ilmmaker, author and gay rights activist Mickey Chen (陳俊志) was found dead at home on Monday.
The news was broken on Facebook by a cousin, who revealed that the 51-year-old artist, a longtime patient with hypertension, died from cardiogenic shock.
Chen’s heart disease appears to run in the family. His father died three years ago from the same condition, and so did his brother just two months ago.
A pioneer of Taiwan’s queer cinema, Chen shot his first documentaryNot Just a Wedding Banquet 《不只是喜宴》in 1997 at the age of 30.
On a visit home, shortly after coming out of the closet as his film hit the circuit, his furious father made him kneel in front of the family’s ancestral tablets for bringing ‘dishonor’ to the family.
It was a scene straight out from Crystal Boys, the novel by Pai Hsien-yung, Chen would later recall.
Leaving home and vowing to never return, Chen devoted the next few years to film-making and to gay rights activism.
His other notable works include Boys for Beauty 《美麗少年》, Memorandum on Happiness 《幸福備忘錄》 and Scars on Memory 《無偶之家，往事之城》 .
In 2011, Chen publishedTaipei Dad, New York Mom 「台北爸爸，紐約媽媽」, an autobiography which took him five years to write.
In it, he recounts three decades of his troubled family history in excruciating, heartbreaking detail. Once wealthy, Chen’s parents fell on hard times and had to move to the United States to make money, leaving him in the care of his grandparents.
After their divorce, Chen’s father returns to Taiwan, and his elder sister runs away from home, eventually dying of a drug overdose at the tender age of 19.
Released to critical acclaim, the book quickly became a Taiwan bestseller which was also awarded the Taipei International Book Exhibition Prize.
It was also adapted for a stage production which premiered at the Taiwan International Festival of Arts in 2012.
A planned movie adaptation ended in shambles, however. In a Facebook post written in November 2017, an exasperated Chen said he had been abused for three years by actress-turned-producer Lee Lieh (李烈) and her right-hand man Kevin Chang (張士達).
Vowing to call a press conference in which he would tell all, Chen subsequently backtracked from suing the duo.
Thanks to the efforts of an aunt, Chen eventually reconciled with his father before he passed away in 2015 at the age of 77.