Gay people in Taiwan are turning to the Gay Rabbit God to answer their prayers. Ta Yeh is not a popular deity so people pray to him in hopes that he will have more time to listen to their prayers and fulfill their romantic desires.
Ta Yeh was a man that was killed for cruising a male ruling official in the bathroom in 18th-century China. The chief gods took pity on him for losing his life and his love and made him the Rabbit God. The Chinese consider the rabbit to be a naturally gay animal so he’s become god to the gays.
Move over Jesus! The gays just got a new god. We thought that it was an great story, so we asked one of our listeners of the Feast of Fun podcast in Taiwan to go check it out to see if it was real. The following is a first hand hand account from one of our listener at the shrine of Ta Yeh, the Rabbit God in Taipei, Taiwan. It has been edited to protect his identity as he could lose his job if they knew he was gay.
At the Shrine of Ta Yeh
We knocked and the door was opened by a man visiting the priest. A young man introduced himself as the apprentice of the priest and offered to give us a tour and explain how to worship the Rabbit God. We asked him if we could take pictures and he said “yes.” My friend thought that was unusual as usually priests don’t like people taking pictures of altars.
The apprentice led us upstairs to the second floor. It’s basically just an very plain old house but I didn’t see any sign that anyone lives or sleeps there. It appeared to be only for worship. We were lead into the first room where in Taoist temples it’s customary to first pray to the normal three gods at a regular altar and then move to another room to pray to the specific god of that temple.
There was a donation box and we were told, although it wasn’t mandatory, that a 100 NT donation was appropriate (a little more than 3 US dollars). I put our money in and then we picked up three incense sticks each. We had to bow to each god with the lighted incense sticks and then stick them in the right bowls with other incense sticks. One god and a tiger statue were under the table so we had to stick two out of the three incense sticks under the table.
The image of one god looked pretty gay to me so I thought that might be the rabbit god but I was told it was just the Drinking God. We then put bundles of fake money on the altar which we would later burn on the balcony after worshiping the rabbit god.
I didn’t want to burn anything as I’m always complaining about how bad the pollution is from all the fake money burning festivals and ghost month money burning. Burning our own fake money was optional anyway but everyone else there did it.
The temple was crowded as there were three sets of lesbians and two gay couples there and we all took turns to go to the actual rabbit altar to light incense sticks. We were told to write our message to the rabbit god in a fake book that was on the altar and when the book is burned, he will get the message. There were already many of these books on the table as you can see from the picture with lots of writing on them in pen.
There was a lesbian couple before us and they took a long time, about twenty minutes bowing to the rabbit god and writing on their books. Then it was our turn and we lit the incense, bowed etc. Then we went back to the first altar and took the picture with the Feast of Fun t-shirt on it. Then we took the picture of Feast of Fun t-shirt on the rabbit god temple where I accidentally knocked a bunch of the books on the floor which, according to my friend, was a big taboo, but no one caught me.
I wasn’t going to wear the t-shirt and my Taiwanese friend wasn’t either because both of us are English teachers and in the closet. We would both immediately be fired if it is known here that we are gay. Both of us love teaching and being in the closet is the price we pay to be able to do our jobs.
Anyway, we asked the apprentice to wear the t-shirt and after a little convincing he agreed to do it. I was surprised. After we took the picture of him, we went back downstairs and the priest invited us to sit and talk with him. He doesn’t speak any English. I told him about the Feast of Fun podcast and I even asked him if he would do an interview if someone in Chicago could translate. He said he would be happy to and he gave me his card, or rather the Rabbit Temple business card. I will send it out to you on Monday.
When I realized who the priest was I was kind of taken back because he looks like a 15 year old boy. If you ask me he looks younger than his apprentice. My friend told me he was probably in his 30s though. I found this pretty disappointing as I was envisioning a sexy silver fox priest.
The priest seemed busy with his other guests so we didn’t stay long. We thanked him and prepared to leave. The priest then asked me if he could take my picture in front of the rabbit altar. I had to say yes and the apprentice took my picture standing next to my friend. We then told him we were in the closet and to please not use the picture. He told us no problem. He didn’t mind though that we use his picture. I thought that was very cool of him.
My strongest memory of the temple was of the lesbians, especially the ones that we waited for while they were at the rabbit altar. I could tell this was serious business for them and they really needed this rabbit god’s help. They seemed really sincere and just seeing this couple at the temple made the whole thing really serious and real for me.
For these people it wasn’t a joke. Being gay in Taiwan is extremely hard for most people. It’s ridiculed and goes against all family traditions, especially the one that says you have to get married. When I saw the lesbians, I felt I was watching something really sacred. It wasn’t just a temple in a house, but a special place.