InterPride’s bad decision to abandon Taiwan

As many in the LGBTQ community in Washington, D.C. discovered recently, our city will now host WorldPride in 2025. Many of the initial reactions I saw from those in my immediate network were a mix of excitement and skepticism – does D.C. have the “gay infrastructure” to support hosting a global Pride event? According to InterPride, the U.S.-based non-profit organization that owns the licensing rights for WorldPride, the answer is yes.  However, what seemed to get lost in the conversation was why D.C. was newly awarded as the host for this event after publicly losing its bid to host WorldPride back in 2021 to Taiwan.

In August of this year, the WorldPride 2025 Taiwan Preparation Committee announced that it was withdrawing from hosting the global celebration after a dispute with InterPride over the name of the event. The host committee insisted on calling it “WorldPride Taiwan 2025” while InterPride insisted that the event be called “WorldPride Kaohsiung” in tradition with using the name of the host city and not that of the host country. The committee did not accept this name change and Taiwan will no longer host the event, as revealed in an announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan.

There is much he-said-she-said in competing press releases and subsequent interviews of how InterPride and the committee arrived at this point. It is certain that not all of the behind-the-scenes negotiations are fully available to the public and it appears that the fallout ultimately comes down to the disagreement over the name of the event. 

InterPride’s decision that this event would no longer take place in Taiwan is ultimately harmful for the LGBTQ community in Taiwan and East Asia as a whole.  InterPride is squarely to blame and fails to stand up for the rights of our community by failing to engage in the public demonstration of Pride that has made the LGBTQ rights movement successful over the better part of the last century.

InterPride’s decision to dictate the name of the event shows a Western-minded lack of regard for the local and regional politics of East Asia and continues the imperialist trend of dictating terms to the Global South. By awarding this event, InterPride should have allowed the committee to choose its own name for the event. Mind you, the name that they initially bid and submitted all of the paperwork with throughout the bidding process and ultimately published for the announcement of the award was “WorldPride 2025 Taiwan.”

InterPride co-president Linda DeMarco has insisted that the reason for the name change was not motivated by geo-political tensions. It is disheartening that InterPride tried to distance itself from politics when the movement they support has its foundational roots in politics. It also seems highly implausible that InterPride did not consider the geo-political tensions in which Taiwan is currently ensnared. InterPride should take a stance in supporting Taiwan and allowing them to choose the name for this global event. In shying away, InterPride is failing to align itself with the country with the best record of LGBTQ rights in East Asia.

Awarding Taiwan with the 2025 event was monumental and invaluable for raising the profile of LGBTQ rights in East Asia, which are tenuous and not widespread.  InterPride distancing itself from this stance is a disservice to the LGBTQ community in Taiwan and East Asia as a whole. Dictating that the committee step down from using the name “Taiwan” disregards the complex history and identity of the Taiwanese people and the LGBTQ community there. InterPride’s failure to stand up for Taiwan by allowing them to use their chosen name for the event is symbolic of the Western imperialism mindset that is still pervasive in the LGBTQ community and Western-based international organizations. The committee has every right to make the event in their image. InterPride has taken away agency from the committee and the LGBTQ community in Taiwan from deciding the name of their own event in a way that is hard not to read as imperialist.

We can all agree that Pride is an inherently political event. When forced to take a stance on allowing the committee to use Taiwan in the name for the event, InterPride balked and claimed to not be political. It betrays the history of the LGBTQ movement to not take a political stance and instead disengage with the committee and Taiwan as a whole. To co-president Hadi Damien who is on record saying that traditionally the name of the event is based on the city that the event is held and not the country, it should be asked why InterPride feels they need to cling to this nonsensical and baseless tradition? 

While the final preparations for WorldPride 2023 Sydney are underway, D.C. begins to prepare to host its event, and Amsterdam celebrates their announcement of hosting WorldPride in 2026, it is critical that we as a community examine where we sit in the broader context of the global LGBTQ movement. InterPride’s inflexibility and decision to move the event away from Taiwan should be a reminder that we have a duty to support our community both at home and abroad. In America we certainly have a very tough and long road ahead of us in terms of achieving full equality for our community.  But that does not excuse us from not exercising our privilege in the global community from seeking to lift fellow community members around the world and support their fight for rights.

I hope that we as a community will keep this in mind and start holding organizations like InterPride accountable to the community at large. I call on InterPride to announce a WorldPride event in a city outside of the Global North. Until then, I will look forward to WorldPride in Washington, D.C. in 2025 and elevating our city to the global stage.

Parker Griffin is gay D.C.-based professional who has worked in international development and is an advocate for LGBTQ rights.