In 2018, Andrew Thomas Huang, a queer Asian filmmaker, was challenged to represent his sexual identity on screen. The end product is the short film “Kiss of the Rabbit God” (兔兒神 Tù er shén).

Andrew Thomas Huang

“Kiss of the Rabbit God” follows Matt, a Chinese-American restaurant worker, and Shen, the Chinese deity of gay love. Matt falls in love with the god and experiences his sexual awakening.

Huang sought to remedy the deficit of queer Asian visibility in Western media. He aimed to destigmatize and appreciate the Asian male body. In the director’s statement that accompanies the video on YouTube, Huang says his goal was to enrich “our collective imagination of what queer Asian male love, sex and intimacy could aspire to be.”

So who is the Rabbit God?

Icon of the Rabbit God
Andrew Thomas Huang

As the short film mentions, the story of the Rabbit God dates back to the Qing dynasty. There seems to be two different origin stories. In the first version, the Rabbit God was a soldier. In the second version, he was an official named Hu Tianbao (胡天保)

In both versions, when he was a mortal, the Rabbit God fell in love with an imperial inspector in Fujian. However he is unable to confess his feelings. Hu pines from a distance and peeps at the imperial inspector in the bathroom, but is caught.

Hu is beaten to death after confessing his love to the inspector. In the afterlife, the king of the underworld ordains Hu to manage love and sex between homosexual people. 

The Rabbit God in Taiwan

Taoist priest Lu Wei-ming at the shrine of the Rabbit God
Ho Yi, Taipei Times

Wei-ming Temple in New Taipei City is the only temple dedicated to the Rabbit God. The world’s only shrine for homosexuals was founded by Lu Wei-Ming in 2006. Since its opening, thousands of people have sought Lu’s counsel to please the deity and find a match made in heaven.

When addressing the deity, Lu suggests calling him 大爺 (Dàyé, master) to show respect. Worshippers can write their messages on paper and burn them to send them to heaven. Some worshippers even bring personal items, such as skin-care products, for blessings.

Lu established this temple because the LGBTQ+ community is marginalized and there is “no one looking after them.” Lu hopes his temple and work can support the community. 

Taiwan Gay Pride Parade 

Taiwan is one of the first Asian nations to legalize same-sex marriage. But there are still conservatives who oppose same-sex union. As people’s perceptions towards gender and sexuality continue to develop, Lu’s temple will also continue to welcome gay people. 

Not only is “Kiss of the Rabbit God” a stunning short film, but it also taught me something I didn’t know about Chinese culture. 

Did you know about the Rabbit God prior to this? Let us know in the comments below.

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Vivien Cheng

Vivien Cheng is a student pursuing a B.A. in Mandarin and a minor in international relations. She hopes to aid in policy-making.
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