Asia’s first LGBT-focused streaming service tackles taboos

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After launching in 2017 in Taiwan, a beacon for gay rights since becoming the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, it has expanded to 21 territories including several that still criminalise homosexuality

A rom-com about a lesbian flight attendant and a romance in a gay spa are among the shows featured on Asia’s first LGBT-focused streaming service, which is pushing boundaries in an often highly conservative region. 

GagaOOLala brings more than 1,000 feature films, shorts, web series, and documentaries to people across Asia, where censorship and traditional attitudes mean there has been little in the way of gay content in the mainstream media. 

After launching in 2017 in Taiwan, a beacon for gay rights since becoming the first place in Asia to legalise same-sex marriage, it has expanded to 21 territories including several that still criminalise homosexuality. 

“One of the main impetuses for me to create GagaOOlala, (is) to kind of dispel a lot of the myths and misconceptions that a lot of people might have about LGBT people,” said Jay Lin, a prominent LGBT rights activist in Taiwan who founded the platform.

“We’re not all living really tragic lives — we’re entrepreneurs, we’re fathers,” the 46-year-old, who is raising twin boys with his partner in Taipei, told AFP.

With about 280,000 members, made up mainly of gay people but also including a significant number of straight women, its success comes as some progress is made on LGBT rights in parts of the region.

As well as Taiwan’s move to legalise same-sex unions in May, India’s Supreme Court last year struck down a colonial-era ban on gay sex.