Olivia Wu of Love Boat, the first fashion and lifestyle shop for queer women in Taiwan, joined us today for a personal interview to talk about coming out, her work at Love Boat and more!
Olivia is an American born Chinese. After college, she found a strong desire to pursue mental, physical and spiritual wealth. She started a Wellness Workshop at Love Boat, hosting weekly events on meditation, caring for pets, massage and healthy living. Along with the Wellness Workshop, Olivia has also helped organize tarot and I-ching (The Book of Changes) readings at GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Awakening Days) and painting rainbows on participants of the annual Taiwan Pride Parade.
Miyuki: To start off, can you share a coming out story with us?
Olivia: If I recall correctly, the first person I came out to was my Mom, I think I was about 15 at the time and in junior high school. I came out because I felt a strong urge to be myself and I wanted someone to recognize it and see it as a fact.
Miyuki: Were you in the U.S. at the time?
Miyuki: When did you come out to yourself?
Olivia: Looking back, I’ve always know that I liked girls, even back in kindergarten.
Miyuki: I see, wow!
Olivia: But I think, the young mind is more innocent. I didn’t see liking girl as something bad or something odd, it was just natural.
Miyuki: Completely! So, how did your mom react? I think most Asian/Asian-Americans are worried first and foremost about how their parents will react or think of them.
Olivia: I think they try their best to raise their children and if something goes even remotely different from the expectation, they see it as their fault. But it really isn’t.
My mom was calm at first and said this is something she needs to discuss with my dad.
Miyuki: Interesting! How about after you became a really big component in the work at Love Boat? How does it feel to be a “representative,” if you will, that visitors interact with when they visit the store?
Olivia: I see Love Boat as a very important part of my life and my being. I wasn’t really active before in the LGBT community but I’ve always felt that I wanted to help the community somehow.
Miyuki: When did you move to Taiwan again?
Olivia: About 2 years ago.
Miyuki: Can you tell me a little bit about that transition?
Olivia: I was actually traveling to Taiwan because I felt a strong sense of being here
When I was here, I came in contact with I-Ching, The Book of Changes, and with my LGBT identity, I found an actual way to help the community. I’ve always felt a strong connection to my Taiwanese/Asian side, so I just did what felt right.
Miyuki: Can you talk a little bit about where you found the inspiration for the weekly workshops you run at Love Boat?
Olivia: Along with the owners of Love Boat, I had the hope to help lesbians on levels of mental, physical and spiritual health. That’s why I started the workshops and I’m extremely grateful that Love Boat is able to provide us with space.
Miyuki: It really is a comfortable space, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Olivia: That’s great to hear.
Miyuki: What have you learned from running the workshops?
Olivia: That people can come from different places, with different skin tones, different languages, different stories, and yet within each one of us there is the same aspiration to carry on each one’s life to its fullest potential whether it’s building a long lasting relationship, a stable career, or happiness.
Miyuki: Finally, do you have any advice for readers of Asian, Gay and Proud?
Olivia: Sometimes no advice is the best advice because life takes you by surprise. Even when you least expect it, believe in yourself that there is a reason for us being who we are and it’s up to ourselves to find out.
Miyuki: That’s awesome! Thank you Olivia for your time and your thoughtful answers!
If you want to find out more about the weekly workshops Olivia hosts and other events, please visit their facebook page.
Address: 1F, No.7-14, Alley 8, Lane 210, Sect. 3, Roosevelt Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei, Taiwan
Times: Tues – Sun 2:00 pm – 10:00 pm