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Go There! | I'm Surrounded by Queers

A while ago I moved from my studio apartment in an out-of-the-way suburb to an impressively filthy flat in Central Taipei. Which, after a couple of weeks of intensive cleaning, turned out to be a fabulous idea. I moved for a large number of reasons, but the primary reason for me moving to this specific location was that this area has at least 50% of my favourite places in Taipei. The downside is that my astronomically extended commute means I barely have any time to visit them, but hey, no place is perfect.

I’m going to focus on four of these places. They are all near the Taipower Building Station, on the green line, and they are all (surprise) queer.

Number One: Taipei LGBTIQA+ Social Group

First up is one that I have mentioned before: The Taipei LGBTIQA+ Social Group, otherwise known as the queer meetup. The setup is pretty simple. It’s every Tuesday evening, you pay 150 NT to the owner of the venue, Human Space, and for that you get to hang out for a few hours with a bunch of lovely queers. The venue also provides some drinks and video games and extremely human-averse cats. The meetup is very informal, and you can socialise as much or as little as you choose. Near the beginning they do have an “ice breaker” in which everyone goes around and gives their names and a quick introduction, and answers a question. Previous questions have been “What tattoo would you get if there were no consequences?” and “If you could make any food magically come out of your belly button, what would it be?” (Don’t look at me, I didn’t come up with them). The icebreaker is a nice way to get to know new people, but if that sounds like a mild form of torture to you, no one’s going to shun you if you hide away for its duration. There is also a Line group, which is very, very active. I’ve had to turn off my notifications for that one.

There are also movie nights on Saturdays, which comes with a diverse range of movies, and occasional parties, KTV nights, and other social events, including a group trip to Pride. Throughout the year my attendance has gone up and down depending on how busy I am, but it’s always a nice place to come back to. Sometimes you just need to hang with a group of people with similar experiences and struggles. It’s relaxing not to be constantly watching what you say, and I’ve met some amazing people and made some good friends. You can find information on the Meetup here.

They have a number of different rooms you can book, including a private downstairs area.

My favourite part of the meetup: The people.

My least favourite part of the meetup: Stop moving overseas, you jerks.

Number Two: H*ours

(Photo: Jordan Herpich)

H*ours is simply a queer friendly café. It was established in 2000, though it has changed managers twice. It is actually where the meetup used to meet, long before my time. H*ours doesn’t have many events or meetups now, but it has good sized tables, comfy chairs, and is a fantastic place to buy coffee and get work done, all in a relaxing queer-friendly environment. It also does coke floats, for those of you who aren’t vegan and like that sort of thing. The coffees are a bit pricier than some places, at 100 NT for an Americano, but if you want a place where you can sit and work undisturbed for a few hours (heh), it’s worth it. The décor isn’t fancy, but I honestly prefer places with a homey feel than the more sterile “elegant” style of some cafes. H*ours also has a selection of games for its customers and some gay magazines of a size and thickness that more resemble books, and which are not, from my quick flick through, for the prudish.  

My favourite part of H*ours: The relaxed and comfortable environment, and the resident dog, Hǎimǎ (seahorse).

Dogs make everything better. (Photo: Jordan Herpich) 

My least favourite part of H*ours: What is it with eateries putting mirrors in toilet stalls? Statistically, only a small percentage of the clientele is going to be into that.


Number Three: GinGin Store

(Photo: Jordan Herpich)

Right next door to H*ours is a queer shop. I’d been for a brief look once before, shortly after arriving in Taipei, and left with the impression that it was purely gay focused. This happily turned out to be wrong. The shop has an oddly eclectic range of goods for sale, including the traditional queer rainbow jewelry, pins, flags, mugs, and so on, as well as lesbian magazines, binders, underwear, gay magazines from England, gay porn, lesbian movies, sex toys, nice smelling soap, windbreakers, and what I think was a queer women karma sutra. It also has a gallery and a television which shows whichever movie they wish to promote.

My favourite part of GinGin: The rainbow Buddha. Also the owner that I met – there are two – is very lovely and helpful.

(Photo: Jordan Herpich)

Plus I found this mug there.

My least favourite part of GinGin: All gay places in Taipei sell massive amounts of masculine underwear. Why? It’s no different from the underwear in department stores. This isn’t rhetorical, I genuinely want to know.


Number Four: Loveboat

(Photo: Jordan Herpich)

I’d heard of Loveboat for a long time before I got around to visiting. I had been told that it was a lesbian café, which turned out to be rather inaccurate. According to the director, it started out as a shop that sold things like binders and accessories, but has since expanded to a community centre/shop/new age healing provider. It is queer women focused, but that happened organically rather than being a deliberate choice.

(Photo: Jordan Herpich)

It now offers, among other things: a “café salon”/community space, I Ching and Tarot readings, chakra healing with essential oils, light healing with crystals, knife massage, meditation, and education. They also have book signings, mostly for queer, diversity, and women focused books. They also have a meditation area, separated from the main store, furnished in wood and stone and the gayest of the My Little Ponies, as well as a massage table in an adjoining room.

Pony not pictured. (Photo: Jordan Herpich)

It still sells binders, accessories, women focused books and movies, rainbow products, a few marijuana themed products, essential oils and incense, women-focused sex toys, suits, some flannel shirts, and, in an amusing nod to queer women clichés, dog clothes. So far I’ve only used the café salon and browsed the store, but I am planning on getting a knife massage sometime soon.

(Photos: Jordan Herpich)

My favourite part of Loveboat: Taipei is rather deficient in queer women spaces, which makes Loveboat a fantastic resource. Also, there are turtles.

My least favourite part of Loveboat: This monstrosity: 

I actually can’t tell if I hate it or love it.

(Editing: John Grzelak)

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