We had an interview with Benson Chiang, who is Mr Gay Taiwan about his experience and his views on life. Benson Chiang is a handsome, charming young man, that’s a given, but apart from that he is also intelligent and motivating with a unique approach in life.
How did you decide to take part in Mr. Gay Taiwan? How did you find out about the competition?
I watched the first Mr. Gay Taiwan contest in Kaohsiung in 2014, it was still small back then, but I realized it was more than a beauty competition. Mr. Gay Taiwan gives people the platform, not only to be themselves but also for them to learn who they are and be happy in their own skin, while being a role model for others.
How has participating and winning changed your life?
I have people whom I have never met recognize me and thank me for being a voice for the LGBTIQ community in Taiwan. I am usually a bit shy, and still find it strange being approached by strangers, but what I have learned is that we are one community, and we are all in this together. Some of those strangers have become friends and I have met the most inspiring and supportive people since winning Mr. Gay Taiwan.
How is the situation for gay people in Taiwan at the moment? Do you feel it is changing?
I think about 60-70% of people here support same-sex marriage and don’t judge people for being gay. We are lucky as Taiwan is one of the most progressive when it comes to the LGBTIQ family.
The older generation is more traditional and don’t accept us as ‘normal’, in their eyes we are labeled as ‘freaks’, but that is mostly because they do not get enough information. I believe that by reaching out to them and showing them who we really are, we can change the way we are perceived. It is just hard breaking traditional stigmas and coming out, as parents have no trouble accepting LGBTIQ people, unless their children are gay; some still think it is a choice or a phase that will hopefully be outgrown later in life.
The younger generation is much more open and accepting and once you are ‘out of the closet’ in Taiwan, life usually gets easier. Being Mr. Gay Taiwan has given me the opportunity to show others that not only is it okay to be an openly gay man, it is fantastic. I can be myself and live with the full support of my family and friends without ever feeling judged.
What has helped you during the contest? What is your motivation in life?
My friends convinced me to join and have been supporting me ever since. After winning Mr. Gay Taiwan, I started preparing for Mr. Gay World 2016 that was held in Malta this year. The Mr. Gay Taiwan team has been great and helped me with everything I needed. It is great working with them as we all have the same goals and passions for Taiwan and the LGBTIQ community. We have become this little family and I am proud to be working alongside them.
At Mr. Gay World 2016 in Malta I also met the most amazing guys from all over the world. From my roommates, to the other Asian contestants, to the winner from Spain, Roger Gosalbez, who helped me get all the cat hair off my formal suit minutes before the formal challenge; we have become family.
The Mr. Gay World Taiwan and Asia director, Igor Scheurkogel helped all of us from Asia a lot, running around, making sure we are taken care off.
My motivation in life is not trying to change the world, but trying to change myself so that I can help the world to change. I believe change comes from within and if I can be the best version of Benson Chiang, then I can show others that being themselves and being happy in their own skin is the biggest change the world needs. We can change the world, but first we must change and be true to ourselves.
You are seen as one of the most handsome men. What does beauty mean to you? What do you personally find beautiful?
I don’t usually see myself as one of the most handsome men, I think I am still growing, learning to love myself and looking for the beauty inside, and all around me. For me beauty can be found in anything, as long as you live in the moment. Even the worst situations and ‘ugly’ things can have beauty hidden in them; you just have to know where to look. But you cannot look for beauty if you are not present in the moment. That being said, I am passionate about art, music, style and people.
What are your plans for the future?
Although I would love to meet more people, experience more cultures, learn more skills and see more beauty, I am focusing on the present now. The future is uncertain, but by taking it step-by-step I can enjoy every moment and see where that leads me. For me that is where the fun lies, not planning too much and living every day to the max.
Photographer: Albertus Gerhardus van Aswegen