Vision of OUT IN TAIWAN
OUT IN TAIWAN is a project spearheaded by internationally renowned fashion photographer and film director Leslie Kee and co-executed by GagaOOLala, GagaTai, LalaTai, the LGBTQ online entertainment service in Taiwan. Kee’s wish is to introduce the Taiwanese public to the diverse faces of the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and humanise what it means to be LGBTQ.
The purpose of OUT IN TAIWAN is to foster a society that is accepting and supportive of LGBTQ persons who wish to come out to family, friends and peers in the community. For LGBTQ individuals, coming out is a gradual and often fraught process. How and when each individual comes out varies. Fear of distressing family members or facing discrimination at work makes coming out even harder. Some people choose to live their lives in hiding. However, making the decision to come out has changed many lives for the better. Those who have chosen to come out speak of lower rates of stress, depression and risk of suicide, improved health, higher productivity and overall well-being. Medical research and employer feedback supports these observations. Moreover every individual who comes out helps to create a more honest and open environment where younger generations gain a greater sense of belonging and acceptance.
OUT IN TAIWAN comes at a special time. The referendum for same-sex marriage is taking place on November 24th, and all sides are demanding more attention to LGBTQ issues right now. This project has already had a deep impact on the LGBTQ communities of Japan and Singapore and we hope Taiwanese people will also become more open to the idea of a diverse society through Leslie’s artwork.
About Leslie Kee
Leslie Kee was born in Singapore, 1971. He majored in photography at Tokyo University of the Arts. He is a world-famous fashion and celebrity photographer and, recently, he has shot his first short film. He is a multifaceted visual artist.
Leslie moved to Tokyo in 1993 and has lived there since then. He travels all over the world for art, fashion, commercial shootings, short films, and music videos. He was the first Asian photographer to work with Condé Nast Publications in China on a long-term basis, as well as being one of the regular photographers for Vogue Taiwan.
Leslie Kee's works include thousands of magazine covers, hundreds of pop CD covers and countless Japanese music, theater, and movie posters. He has worked with numerous international celebrities such as Madonna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Cindy Crawford, Pharrell Williams, Kate Moss and Jennifer Lopez.
To support the survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Leslie Kee captured 300 Asian celebrities for the photobook "Super Stars" and donated all the profit to the victims. He again donated the profits from his photobook “Love & Peace” in 2011, after the earthquake in Tōhoku, Japan.
After countless of exhibitions and public appearances, including NHK and the UN, he became a TED speaker in 2014.
The Independents (2016) is Leslie’s first short film and was nominated at the 2015 ASVOFF Fashion Film Competition, and awarded The Beauty Prize Award.
Lastly, Leslie is the man behind OUT IN JAPAN and OUT IN SINGAPORE. He has traveled all over Japan taking pictures of members of the LGBTQ community and organized several exhibitions around the country. In April 2018, he placed a flag composed of 1,500 portraits over Shibuya, Tokyo, for two weeks, to promote diversity and acceptance during Tokyo Pride 2018. From 2016 to 2020, Leslie is the director and photographer for a four-year project commissioned by NKH called “To 2020 Portrait Messages by Leslie Kee” aiming to promote the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics Games.
Since 2015, Leslie Kee has wanted to take portraits of LGBTQ people. The inspiration for this project came from his experience in New York where he found out that many talented western artists belonged to the LGBTQ community. They acknowledged their sexualities and embraced them to the fullest. At the same time, the queer Japanese and Asian artists had to remain hidden. They were unable to express their feelings to their family, friends, or colleagues.
OUT IN JAPAN was a platform for queers to come out of the closets. By inviting, mobilizing and introducing these people into his photography he made their stories and images public. Leslie Kee goes to a different Japanese city to shoot every two to three months. More than 1,500 individuals from different fields have come out through this platform in many different ways in this ongoing project that hopes to reach 10,000 in five years. For more detailed information, please visit outinjapan.com
Singapore is Leslie Kee's birthplace and the second country to join this project after Japan. Despite being a racially diverse country, they are relatively conservative towards LGBTQ topics. The Confucius notion of a male marrying a female and to raise children is still deeply rooted in people's hearts. At the same time, gay sexual activities are still illegal under Section 377A of the Penal Code. Because of this, OUT IN SINGAPORE became a groundbreaking milestone for the community and a symbol of acceptance. Singaporean society witnessed a never-seen-before celebration of diversity with the coming out of hundreds of its citizens, including Li Huanwu, grandson of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, and his boyfriend. OUT IN SINGAPORE was shot and displayed to the public during June and July, 2018, and it was a crucial part of the 10th edition of Pink Dot. For more detailed information, please, visit www.outinsingapore.sg