The plight of China’s gays

I was just interrupted by an unusual phone call. I am going to take a gamble and write about it now, although I’ve never blogged about such personal subjects before. If only a couple of people see it, it will be worthwhile. I must by necessity live a secret life here in Beijing, where being gay, while no longer a crime per se, is certainly something one doesn’t announce to one’s colleagues. So I keep all aspects of the topic out of this diary and out of my worklife. I have entrusted one colleague of mine, a very mature and wonderful young lady, with the URL for this site. Amy, if you are reading this tonight, I am counting on you to honor my trust in you.

So the phone rang a short while ago. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t believe that I can ever be happy here. I can never tell my family about the man that I love, I always have to live a secret life.” So said my friend David, one of my first friends here, a 21-year-old student at a local university, his voice choking with emotion. David told me about a teacher he was in love with, an American whose father had just suffered a heart attack. He had to return at once to America and David, who has been looking for love for so many months, was utterly devastated. I hardly knew what to say as I heard his sobs, but I felt that I was hearing a cry of agony from all the gay men in China. “He was the only man I loved and now he’s leaving me. I know why he has to go, I know it’s his father and I would do the same thing. But still I feel so frightened and so alone, I have never felt so alone. I looked for this man for so long, and tomorrow he’ll be gone. Finding love in China is almost impossible, and I am frightened I will never find it again.”

In Hong Kong, I felt terrible for young men who felt they had to marry and have a child because it was so much a part of their culture — the very idea of coming out was anathema to their way of thinking, to their way of life. In China it is infinitely worse. At least in HK there is a gay community, a place to go and know you are not alone. In China this community is so much in its infancy, so small and so fragile that it can offer people like David little support. I urged David to recognize that life is often sad and unfair, but that there is enough joy and happiness to make it worthwhile. I told him that at the age of 21 it might be hard to realize that life goes on after the man you love goes away, but that it does. I told David that the key to his happiness would be his relationships; he had to reach out, to have a support system, friends he could go to like me.

I was sincere, but in my heart I wondered how easy that would be in China. It wasn’t the first time I had heard a young Chinese man gripped with extreme panic as he looked with hopelessness at the many obstacles that stood in his way to happiness. The time before was in Shanghai, where a very brilliant friend of mine was reduced to tears as he told me that all he could see in his future was pain, frustration and boundless loneliness. I put my arm around his shoulder and tried to give him encouraging words before I too broke down, a fountain of tears, because I couldn’t tell him that his fears were unfounded.

David was never a close friend of mine, but in this moment I felt he was my brother, and I wanted to reach out and shield him from his anguish. As soon as he said hello, I knew something was very wrong, and I got up from my computer and sat down on the couch. I knew he needed all of me. I know that I made a difference for him tonight, and our talk was long and serious. I know I couldn’t heal the problem, make it go away, but I know that I helped him just by giving him perspective. But what can I do to help ease the anguish of all these millions who, like David, see their lives as a kind of death sentence? China has, of course, by far the world’s largest gay population. How tragic that so many of these people go to bed each night and wake up each morning with an aching heart, knowing that even if they do as expected and marry and have their child, they have been sentenced, through no crime of their own, to live a life of unspeakable aloneness, bearing a sense of shame and self-hatred. Tonight I feel as though I have cried for every one of them, for every one.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 47 Comments

Hi Richard,
thank you for sharing this article with me. China is full of such sad stories. Wish you luck in Singapore. Let’s keep in contact.

Dieter

September 12, 2003 @ 4:00 am | Comment

Yes, and the more need to be worrid about is that grouth of china’s AIDS rates caused by underground gay relationship.
Hope china goes well.
Quite well article, Thank you.

September 28, 2003 @ 12:11 pm | Comment

I read your story on the plight of being gay in China. Your understanding of the status quo of Chinese Gay is basiclly correct. Still, I am afraid you have neglected at least three points:
First, compared with ten or even five years ago, the Chinese society is now much more open and tolerent to gay people. As far as I know, many people (both gay and straight) do not feel awkward and uncomfortable to talk about such issues, while just a few years ago homosexuality was still a taboo in daily talks.
Secondly, many gay people form their own small circles, mainly via the Internet. They visit the same gay bbs regularly, get to know each other, and then hang out. They hold parties and orginize activities regularly. In some big cities, such small and semi-occluded circles — the rudiment of gay communities — has become an important part of many gays’ lives. It is in a circle that Chinese gays restore their self-recognition and the sense of being a part of the society.
Thirdly, the young generation, born after 1980, are much more brave than 1970s their counterparts. They are less concerned with, thus less confused with, their own sexualities. They do not treat it as a serious matter, like the 1970s did. Many colllege students are not afraid of telling their classmates that they are gay. They tell it, which the 1970s might regard as a big and life-long secret, just as if they are saying, “I have single-layer eyelids”.
:) by the way, can you tell me your MSN?

January 2, 2004 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

you still have to be careful of making things sound too rosy. yes, the internet has opened amazing new doors, but many of the younger college students are still wary of it. (where it has been most successful is becoming a tool for moneyboys to advertise.) i know some who see it opnly as a way to find sex partners, but that all the societal/family phobias remain pretty much intact. i have received so many letters from readers affirming the basic truth, that there is still no safety net for the frightened, confused homosexual in china. some of the hipper guys/girls in college are becoming more open — a little. when i talk to those i know about coming out, most find the very idea to be absurd, impossible, virtual suicide. some gays asyou say may not see coming out to be a big deal. i think they are a tiny minority, significant, but certainly not yet indicative of a techtonic shift.
sorry for the bad typing, can only use one hand

January 2, 2004 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

Hello, I am an 18 year old gay male who lives in New York… I was reading up on how other cultures deal with homosexuality and I must admit that this story touched me. I think living life in America is alot easier and the topic is more understood… among my peers it is alot harder. for example when I was in high school I had my life threatened because another young man thought I liked his friend. He came after me with a knife. I dropped out of school the next day and got my GED. I do regret dropping out but, I think that the people should do more for the gay youth. At the time I was not afraid to tell people if they asked now I am hesitant which I don’t think I should have to be. I am telling you this so that maybe you can help me find sites or other thing on-line so I can talk about my problems and talk with other youth about theirs. Thank you for listening.

January 17, 2004 @ 6:19 am | Comment

Craig, there are many, many gay youth support sites in the US, especially in NY. Since I’ve been away from the US for years I can’t recommend a specific one, but I’d just do some Internet searches. I’m sorry to hear you felt you had to quit high school. If there is any way on earth you can make plans to go to college, I strongly recommend it. You are still young, and yoiu will find that a degree is an important thing to have in the American job market. Feel free to comment here anytime or to send me a personal email. I’ll do whatever I can to help.

January 17, 2004 @ 2:40 pm | Comment

Just by chance, I found this web page, and was touched by the story. Well, I am a Chinese guy, 27, working in a university in Beijing. Though many start to talk about gay issue in China, there are people more than you can imagine still hide them in the closet, just like me.

Sometimes, or most of the time, I feel like I am having a guilty life, for I am so afraid that someone is gonna find out the secret, and then I will have “no face” living and working here. A teacher is supposed to be very good, and if he is found out to be gay, he will certainly be looked down upon by teachers and students.

However, the strong need of loving someone and being loved prompted me to pursue for the right person, to share my life with. But how? It’s just unimaginably difficult for me to find the right person.

Tears are my only friend.

If you want to keep in touch, please email me at
richard719@eyou.com
I am looking forward to hearing from you, heart to heart, mind to mind.

February 29, 2004 @ 11:01 am | Comment

Richard, this is Richard (peking duck); I will write to you today. But I’d like to say publicly that there are ways to meet other gay people in China now. They are not perfect and they are not very diverse, but it is definitely getting better. The primary communications tool is the Internet, of course, and even though the personal ads are clogged with ads from “money boys,” you really can meet some quality people there. You just have to be patient. Also, the gay bars in Beijing at least offer a meeting place.

Whatever you do, please don’t let your feelings of guilt, shame and depression overcome you. It is difficult to find your place in a straight world, even in the US. All you need is friendship, to know you’re not alone and to have people you can talk to. Don’t give up.

February 29, 2004 @ 2:50 pm | Comment

oh my, I’m so touched with this story, keep up the support with each other : )

March 8, 2004 @ 6:27 am | Comment

I found this page because a friend (gay) of mine and myself have been offered work in China as dancers for a period of six months. It would be a huge change for us and we’re not too sure we would love it. He asked me to do some research about gay life there and I’m sad to say that all of the articles I’ve read so far have not been reassuring. I’m curious to know if its seemingly taboo for just the Chinese or for foreigners as well. I know the drastic change of culture would be enough, let alone trying to conceal your true self/ feelings. It makes me appreciate being an American.

April 28, 2004 @ 12:24 am | Comment

Things are getting better for gays in China, and have improved markedly even since I wrote this post 15 months ago. There are some gay bars and plenty of web sites for the Beijing gay community, but keep in mind that this is still a taboo subject for most Chinese. You’ll want to be discreet and cautious. I wouldn’t let your concerns over this issue keep you away from China. If you use good judgement and keep the culture in mind, you can have a great time in China, and it’s an experience of a lifetime.

April 28, 2004 @ 12:38 pm | Comment

There are no simple yes or no answers to the difficulties that homosexuals go through in China. Four years ago, homosexuals lived in fear, but their lives were innocent and pure in the idealistic, romantic sense. In the great seaport of Xiamen along the harbour near the ferry to Gulangyu Island, gays often used to gather in couples or groups to fraternize amid those who were there to pick up or be picked up. There were a few money boys, but they were in the minority. Chat lines were just beginning. It was a refreshing way to connect. It really was a great time. But like a lot of things in China over the past four years, it all changed with the influence of Western decadence. The Chinese gays saw how the gays in the West treat each other, and like everything else, copied the behaviour. This is its tradegy: mindlessness. Now chat lines are filled with rude, deceptive, cheating, lying, boys and men, who misrepresent themselves and give all gays in China a bad name. They are the majority now. However, those doe-eyed romanitic boys who still have the dream of finding the right one to live with forever are still around. Soon, however, some innocent unsuspecting gay boy will be taken by a ride by a degenerate married man, who will then use him, abuse him, and spit him out, breaking his heart. In the end, the young innocent will join the ranks of the embittered, broken hearted, cynics who don’t think real love really exists. It is a vicious cycle now. Why the hell is everyone covering the reality of gay life in China into a cushion of pink clouds. Let’s face it: Like everyone else now: THE GAYS IN CHINA EAT THEIR YOUNG.

June 6, 2004 @ 7:30 am | Comment

HI
who can comment aboiut Xiamen gay life today ? thanks !

June 10, 2004 @ 11:22 am | Comment

I have not heard of gay affairs in China
,fankly.it is really a fresh feeling.

August 25, 2004 @ 11:49 pm | Comment

Well, that’s what the Catholic Church identified in a sexuality camp in 2000 which I attended.

That gays and lesbians feared loneliness most and craved love.

There are really a lot of friends which you can find in the Church which you detest most, I hope you find these friends, because they are really very, very nice and understanding people.

God bless and buy a Peking Duck to peek up yourself, be good to yourself once in a while.

September 7, 2004 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

Grey Wolf, who detests the church?

September 8, 2004 @ 7:29 am | Comment

Richard,
The inability of your friends to “come out” is not peculiar to China…it’s everywhere.
It also has to do with their sense of self-worth.

Surely it’s the same in “Confucian” Korea and Japan, and throughout the Muslim world. Perhaps in Catholic countries such as France and Italy, too?

They have a fantasy that it’s “freer” in the West, but thereabouts, they live in `gay ghettoes”. Being gay is about accepting yourself…it takes a long, painful time.

September 10, 2004 @ 5:00 am | Comment

Momo, it’s true, but….it’s easier to come out in some places than others.

September 10, 2004 @ 7:01 am | Comment

It is very interesting to hear the quite varied responses from your readers. I’ve been in China for close to three years now and I gotta say things definitely are noticeably much better now than when I first got here.
The first two and a half years I spent in Guangzhou, gay bars would open and close within a couple months. Went through about 6 in the time I was there.
For the last year, however, there has been only one gay bar in GZ, which did close for a few weeks, rumours of a suicide. Who knows.
In the few months leading up to my move to Hangzhou, I happened to come out to several local Chinese, one policeman the same age as me, one woman in her late 40s, just two examples. Yeah, it could be they wouldn’t accept that coming from a compatriot, but the absurd fear and back-flipping I went through to keep my two lives from converging is laughable now.
The night I came out to the cop, when I got to the karaoke bar he was at with his fiancee and her friends, he called up another cop friend of his out who just happens to be….gay. It’s funny how much our fear keeps us from enjoying life, and nice surprises like that await us on the other side.
The lady I mentioned in her late 40s, I even took her out to GZ’s gay bar a few times with her sister-in-law (also in her 40s) who also happens to be a police officer.
They’re just locals. I jokingly asked her if she would come back the next day to close the bar and she just punched me in the arm.
One last thing: a question I often ask Chinese gays in Guangzhou and now here in Hangzhou is what reaction they might expect if they did come out to their parents. Specifically, if they would face the common-enough reaction of a slammed door and expuslsion from their home that’s not so rare in North America.
VERY few people could admit that their parents would kick them out of the house, talking one or two guys here have told me they’re afraid this could happen.

September 16, 2004 @ 11:27 am | Comment

I know a guy who was thrown out by his father. His story still haunts me. That “I have no son” attitude is just unfathomable, at least to most Westerners. And even though things are definitely improving, mosty gays I know in China would never dream of coming out to their parents.

September 16, 2004 @ 10:50 pm | Comment

Are you out back in the States? I’m not trying to argue, but it’s not so unfathomable where I’m from, semi-northern coastal British Columbia, even less so I would guess down South.
I suppose at 1:30 a.m. this morning when I couldn’t fall asleep I couldn’t quite articulate my point which is that ordinary Chinese people, being so tight on family and loose on ideology, wouldn’t be so quick to throw their sons or daughters out on the street.
Could something like Teena Brandon happen here in China? I just can’t imagine it.

September 17, 2004 @ 1:53 am | Comment

china men are very good in cheating. be careful

October 10, 2004 @ 6:11 am | Comment

I’ve been spending some time on the Shanghai gay scene recently. I speak Chinese and often ask people I meet about their situation. I would not paint a very rosy picture of the situation although it has doubtless improved along with the whole country. Bear in mind that Shanghai is one of the most progressive cities in China:
* A large proportion of gays are married and seeking gay contact covertly. For the most part they don’t see anything particularly wrong with this.
* Unmarried men tend to live at home. Housing is expensive so moving out is not always an option. Most Chinese gays are quite mystified by the idea that 2 or more gay men (not in a relationship with each other) could live in the same house, thinking the idea quite bizzare or wraught with sexual connotation.
* Social pressure is the main reason gays get married. Especially where they are the only child (due to China’s one child policy). Most are pushed to marry in their early twenties when they are not well positioned to resist such pressures
* On the scene, most men are seeking sex and nothing more, few report having had a meaningful relationship with other men at any point in their lives
* Of the people who do identify as gay, long term stable relationships are very difficult given social pressures in China (mostly from family members). I have many stories similar to the one told at the start of this thread, with all the crying, hopelessness and dispair. It is wrenching, and all the more so for being powerless to do anything about it. Starting a relationship and falling in love is against the odds anyway, keeping it together requires uncommon strength and courage.
* The rest hotels that are a common meeting place for sex offer little in the way of privacy (fine if you like having sex with people watching, feeling around, and asking questions). Unsafe sex is the norm, STDs are rife (which makes me wonder about the wives).
* All gay meeting places (commercial, outdoor, and online) are rife with MB’s (money boys). Most are quite young and and largely aim their services at other Chinese (since they don’t speak English well enough to converse with foreigners). For quite a few earning a few bucks from sex is just a way to augment a day job. They ask for money if they think they might get it, other times just play for free. Leaning on friends for money is quite common in China and MB’s tend to rationalize life in these terms. Many MB’s would take objection to the idea that they were engaged in prostitution. My impression is that this phenomenon is a response to large numbers of married men wanting to pay for quick gay sex.
* For most there is little or no chance to travel or work outside China and thus to escape any of this
* Most Chinese gays have little concept of life for gay people outside China due to media censorship and lack of contact with foreigners (so we can discount most theories about the influence of Western decadence)
* Chinese societies outside China proper, for example in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan have similar family pressure for marriage however the gay scenes are more balanced; gays do not get married to the same extent, prostitution is not the norm, public sex venues are safer and have more privacy, more people are able to enjoy free sex lives, stable relationships. Being ‘out’ is however far from the norm.

November 29, 2004 @ 12:20 am | Comment

“…live in the same house, thinking the idea quite bizzare or wraught with sexual connotation.”

I have many gay friends who live together (in Canada), and the stories they tell me are quite bizarre and wrought with sexual connotations. Also, they do define themselves through their sexuality and therefore creating a sexual stigma around their personal life. I’ve spoke about it with them and they agreed that it is up to gays to paint a different portrait of their relationships or suffer the consequences of always being associated to that image.

January 13, 2005 @ 11:58 pm | Comment

Hey there,
I just found this website by sheer accident on a google search and I am thoroughly impressed! I’ve been living as an American expat here in China for over the past 4.5 years and leaving soon to go to Singapore. The phenomenon of the evolution of gay society in just the few years I’ve been here have been pretty interesting to be a witness to. From the gay bar/club scene, to the friends I’ve met, to society in general, it seems that China’s gay society is waking up though very slowly. It’ll be some years yet until a sense of “greater community” exists in the cities, to say nothing of the countryside, but the stirring of the world’s largest gay population cannot ultimately not be denied. I’ve been told official estimates say 3% of the population is gay, based on no fact at all, but if the Kinsey scale is more the truth, then 130 million people’s voices will eventually be heard. Thanks for a really nice website Richard. I’m sorry we never met while you were in Beijing…or did we? Hmmm. The community is small here. If you see this, do drop me a line.

Best,
R

February 7, 2005 @ 10:45 am | Comment

This is the John of the mid-September reply. I’m responding to this now not because I want to be a prick but because I’ve been in China for three years and have spent a lot of that time in the gay circle and lately, working in a gay bar and volunteering doing HIV testing in bars, parks and saunas. That and there aren’t any other venues that I know of for this sort of discussion.
I don’t quite agree with some of the things Malcolm said, but not all of them.
“A large proportion of gays are married and seeking gay contact covertly. For the most part they don’t see anything particularly wrong with this.” I don’t particulary think so. Practically all the actively gay yet married men that I know/have known here realize the unfairness of the situation–for both them and their wives/children–and were not ‘gay’ at the time of their marriage, yet divorce now is out of the question for them; societal and parental pressures. Think of it as a modern Chinese gay identity in the context of transition from traditional Confucian/filial society. This is the only cultural space that they can bring themselves to inhabit presently, given their current situation. Choosing to continue the marriage for the sake of the children is understandable. Maintaining the marriage for fear of losing face, in today’s day and China, is not. I do know a handful of mid- to late-30s men who have had their obligatory kid and then divorced. I know even more men in their mid- to late-30s who have chosen to never get married (not even taking into consideration the men from the same age group who have long-term unmarried live-in same sex partners); anyone over 40 seems stuck to their marriage.
And as for anyone under the age of 30, they’re at the point in China’s opening-up where a choice to not get married will not have an effect on their job or social status. Appeasing their parents is also a personal choice, but still a choice (practically speaking).
Anyways, half the guys back home in Vancouver cruising the parks at night or to be found in a bathhouse fit the exact same description you provide above.
“Unmarried men tend to live at home. Housing is expensive so moving out is not always an option. Most Chinese gays are quite mystified by the idea that 2 or more gay men (not in a relationship with each other) could live in the same house, thinking the idea quite bizzare or wraught with sexual connotation.”
I estimate 95% of the gay men who currently live in a city and have more than 5 gay friends would not be mystified by two good gay friends renting a room together. Read any local gay website; ads looking for roommates pop up every few days. It seems to me like this is more of an economic question now, whereas ten or twenty years ago it would not have been. Especially with out-of-towners who probably make up 50% of the population of every sizeable city in China.
“Social pressure is the main reason gays get married. Especially where they are the only child (due to China’s one child policy).”
Such a blanket statement might have worked 30 years ago but now you have to take into consideration education levels (parents AND son [I unfortunately can't speak for Chinese lesbians]), as well as the city/countryside divide. Men who live with their parents in their hometown don’t have an alternative to getting married. Men who move to the city are probably split between living the gay life and moving back home at 30 while their parents press for grandkids all the while. And the highest percentage of those who, as with their parents, are city-born and -raised. This certainly is consistent with all my prior experience.
“On the scene, most men are seeking sex and nothing more, few report having had a meaningful relationship with other men at any point in their lives.”
Is this a description of the post-Crystal Meth, post-Sex and the City North American urban gay scene? This sounds exactly as plausible as the standard line I get from most Mainlanders, that all foreign (ie. American) gays care about is having sex. Haven’t you heard that? What does it mean that we’re both saying the same things about each other? Further, it’s not as simple as saying that Chinese gays don’t value meaningful loving long-term relationships. There is context here. F-further, just ask anyone you know what they think about the storyline of the movie Lanyu. F-f-further, you sound like you’ve been in Shanghai for too long. Come to Hangzhou!
“Of the people who do identify as gay, long term stable relationships are very difficult given social pressures in China (mostly from family members). I have many stories similar to the one told at the start of this thread, with all the crying, hopelessness and dispair. It is wrenching, and all the more so for being powerless to do anything about it…”
While filial duty is something that still does exist, it is still a phenomenon that has its roots in an agricultural past that China has long left behind. Most Chinese that I know are pragmatic, or pragmatic enough to think about their futures in a rational matter and are working to make their lives more suitable for their gay lifestyle needs (ie. not wasting a woman’s prime and having kids). Also, I almost never seen Chinese cry. Am I just hanging around with a bunch of hardened old queens or am I missing something? I have, myself, cried in China, due mainly to ex-boyfriends.
“The rest hotels that are a common meeting place for sex offer little in the way of privacy (fine if you like having sex with people watching, feeling around, and asking questions).”
Depends perhaps which establishments you choose to frequent. The main sauna in Hangzhou, for example, has a common room, several dozen private rooms wtih beds, a common “bed” room, as well as all the steam rooms and hot tub. Saunas in Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou of the same sort can also be found. What does that say about Shanghainese? (Joking)
“Unsafe sex is the norm, STDs are rife (which makes me wonder about the wives).”
This I have to agree with 100%. I believe it was the online survey that the gay website up in Harbin undertook with over 2,000 responses that came up with the number that 80% of all gay men “don’t use condoms”. A 42 year-old 100% mainland completely uneducated Chinese married-with-a-kid man that I dated for four months after moving to Hangzhou, despite finding time to meet me for tea or dinner almost every single day, when I one day was struck with the thought that his reluctance to have sex was perhaps due to his having and STD, responded that yes, he has syphilis and won’t have sex with me because doesn’t want to hurt me. He claims his wife knows about his sexuality. And his syphilis, which she might have guessed from the red pockmarks that covered his body for a lengthy period of time. We are still very good friends.
“All gay meeting places (commercial, outdoor, and online) are rife with MB’s (money boys). Most are quite young and and largely aim their services at other Chinese (since they don’t speak English well enough to converse with foreigners). For quite a few earning a few bucks from sex is just a way to augment a day job. They ask for money if they think they might get it, other times just play for free. Leaning on friends for money is quite common in China and MB’s tend to rationalize life in these terms. Many MB’s would take objection to the idea that they were engaged in prostitution. My impression is that this phenomenon is a response to large numbers of married men wanting to pay for quick gay sex.”
It’s not that difficult to tell commercial-style moneyboys apart from guys just looking for a friend or hookup. If what you’re talking about is seemingly ‘normal’ friends or lovers requesting presents or financial aid, that’s just something that Chinese will do, regardless of their sexual orientation, perceived actual or otherwise. Factor in the stereotype that all foreigners have money to burn and…
“Most Chinese gays have little concept of life for gay people outside China due to media censorship and lack of contact with foreigners (so we can discount most theories about the influence of Western decadence)”
I’m just going to vocalise my disagreement, this seems quite obviously wrong (sorry). Oh, heck, here I go. It has everything to do with western influence. Any typical urban gay, regardless of income, knows what KY is, has heard of Queer as Folk, incorporates the words gay, cc (sissy), ma-mi/mamasan, for-one-night (419), SM and several others into their normal (gay life) speech.

February 24, 2005 @ 6:38 am | Comment

yes, it’s shame be a gay in China. Because our culture different. And not only China, lots of countries can not give gays legal marriage. Tell me why? I can understand, but I can accept.

May 11, 2005 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

I love gays

May 28, 2005 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

i want to make a good friend, i am in china , i am lonely , so wish you can write to me m8g@163.com , i have pic to you !

July 4, 2005 @ 5:15 am | Comment

hi, i’m here in china for work. right now i’m living alone in my room and no one to talk. i really feel lonely and sad. i need the cuddle and love from man whom i’m longing for to have. i’ve been waiting for ages and even posted a lot of ads in different websites but, still i haven’t found the right one for me. i really dunno why until now i’m still alone battling my feelings in looking for one. they say, i shouldn’t lose hope coz my prince is on his way to get me and live with him forever. how i wish that’ll come true now……

August 8, 2005 @ 11:31 pm | Comment

John K’s comments about the situation among gay’s in China echoing Western influence is perhaps the most accurate description of gay life in China today. I said ‘decadence’ which is a stronger way of putting it. He was being too kind, I think. John K’s summary is by far as accurate as can be. Well done!

September 2, 2005 @ 7:04 am | Comment

I am currently contemplating (even planning) to come and work in China for a while.

I will come with my partner of many years.

We have the freedom to leave again. It is hard (though not impossible) for Chinese guys to have that freedom.

I face this future with great excitement and also trepidation. I hope that I will be able to be reasonably open myself, I always have been here in the UK, and that perhaps my own openness will be helpful for others.

My fears? That I will not be able to command the respect and filiality I seek from local people, and that I will frighten off those with whom I might be able to share a productive dialogue (I hesitate to use the word intercourse for fear of misunderstanding).

In the UK, I have found enriching community with gay friends which is everything about being gay and nothing to do with sex.

I wish so strongly (but fear to hope) that I will be able to find the same in China.

The gay club/pub scene in UK is, for me, largely barren. I make my gay friends in other ways and cherish the friendships I have made.

If anyone in China cares to contact me, I would love to here from you.

September 2, 2005 @ 7:39 am | Comment

http://www.actuporalhistory.org/wwwboard/messages/11204.html gentilitywelcomingwhereupon

September 5, 2005 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

To the best of my knowledge,the REALITY of the gay community in china has not been improved significantly with the economic boom witnessed by the past years.I am gonna talk about this subject from two perspectives.
first,from a macroenvironment perspective.you know,the chinese government remains conservative,whose top priority is the social stability.due to the rise of AIDS infection,which could pose threat to the social stability, the authority started to address the issue in a limited manner. surprisingly,a couple of days ago,the state-controlled national tv channel1 presented a tv show telling the story of the gay community in china, which is a sensitive topic always ignored or covered deliberately.in my opinion,the chinese government’s concern about this community is NOT based on the consideration of human rights or the wellbeing of this group,but the social security.as a result, the basic rights of chinese gay people remain unandressed and unprotected, and the gay community still represents one of the most vulnerable groups in china.what is worse is that some people take advantage of them. sometimes, robbery,ramp and cheating happen to some gay people,who are desperate to find their love. but they could hardly find help to protect and compensate themselves,which makes things worse and their lives more miserable.

second,from an individual perspective.yes,the new generation of gay people in china found less problem in identification of their sexuality,thanks to the increased social tolerance and knowledge sharing. but culture and tradition power remains strong. it is still HARD for them to ‘come out’.the typical chinese lifestyle or family model still dominate. the sons in the families are expected to marry women and have children,and find few options for them.thanks to the internet,the gay community in china found a ‘better’ platform or channel rather than park or public bathroom to communicate,socialize and make friends. well…besides the virtual space,there are a couple of venues for the coummunity indeed. but they only serve a very small part of the whole population,due to the high diversity in this community, social taboo and poor facility provided.
all in all, the whole climate for the gay community in china is still far from being relaxed and pleasant. as a matter of fact, the community remains highly diverse and underground. there would be a long time before it emerges to the surface.

September 11, 2005 @ 2:57 am | Comment

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October 1, 2005 @ 1:34 am | Comment

I’ve been in China a couple of years. I first lived in Xiamen, which has two gay bars (often shut by police) where I met a few gays. The older ones mainly complied with the stereotype of married-with-several-boyfriends. The younger ones were being preyed on by the older ones and were also resigned to the idesa of a sham marriage (although one was considering marrying a lesbian friend of his, which is an improvement of sorts).

Now I’ve been in Shanghai for a year, and the gay scene here is comparatively huge, and diverse. Yes, there is soulless sex. Yes, there are rent boys. Yes, there is sexual disease – just the same as back home. However, in Shanghai I have a chinese boyfriend (of 8 months), who is out to both his parents. I have lunch with his mum most sundays and she seems very accepting. And in Shanghai I can hold his hand and kiss him in the street. People might stare, but then they always stare at foreigners whatever we do. And in London I would get verbal, if not physical abuse, if I showed affection to another man in public.

So which country is repressed?

November 15, 2005 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

China. Having lived in both London and China, I can safely say China is far more repressed. You can find isolated examples of repression against gays in any country, even the most liberal. But in China gays face a far lonelier time than in most other places, certainly than they would in any country in Europe. I’ve seen gays holding hands in public in London, and if they are doing it in China, I suspect it is only in the large coastal cities, not in the average small town and village. China has made huge strides in this areas in recent years and I am thrilled to see it. but to imply that England is more repressive to gays than China (especially based on anecdotal evidence you saw in Shanghai) is rather absurd.

November 15, 2005 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

i’m a Chinese with higher education background, and with a indefatigably-guarded secret attraction to people of my sex. i know exactly what’s my heart’s desire, but i’m too pusillanimous to pursue it, as it seems. i’ve been struggling to come to terms with the truth of my sexual orientation. questioning the very meaning of my existence, of my identity has become a part of my daily life. i don’t know why fate should subject me to this kind of ordeal. it’s torture! it’s excruciating pain!
i’m twenty-two, a hell of an age yet to have my first same-sex relationship. but i doubt if it would become a reality. i’m very concerned about STDs, HIV AIDS, and i’m also shocked by the sexual promiscuity of most homosexuals. would i stoop so low as to satisfy my bodily lust for flesh with those erotomaniacs only to end up so pathetic a person? no, i don’t think so.
maybe the moment the truth came home to me, i was destined to live a life of self-doubt, self-denial, self-denigration.
i’m just a walking dead, it might as well that i end my life. what’s the joy of living when i wear a mask, live a life not my own?

December 9, 2005 @ 7:47 am | Comment

There are compromises. You can be gay and have friends in the community without letting the community define who you are. A condom will protect you against disease with nearly 100 percent efficiency. And a lot of the gays you describe are very decent, loving people, even if some of them think about sex too much (which a lot of straight men do, as well). So please, don’t over-intellectualize things and talk yourself out of a life. You go around once. If you choose to be a “walking dead,” it’s your decision. It doesn’t have to be that way. You have a choice.

December 11, 2005 @ 5:32 pm | Comment

hi again,
thanks for your insight.
i have to admit that it seems me so daunting and demanding to seek like-minded people in this city, Guangzhou actually, where there must be plenty of fun to keep people satisfied. the first step is always the most difficult one, because i don’t know how to take it, where it would take me to. it’s no just that: ok, i’m gay and i want some fun, and all of a sudden i’m gay and happy.
actually i spent four years in Beijing, previous to my first job in Guanghzou. another big city. there it seems a lot of fun , but i was not part of it.
by the way, i didn’t find peking duck to my liking. but this site seems great.

December 12, 2005 @ 5:56 am | Comment

The Internet helps make it easy to make friends in Guangzhou. You have to swallow your fear and move ahead with your life. It hurts to watch others having fun and not being poart of it yourself. It doesn’t have to be that way. Take control of your life and you’ll find there can be a lot of good things that make it all worthwhile, despite the pain and difficulty of being gay.

December 12, 2005 @ 5:02 pm | Comment

I’ve come across a code for a one night stand: 419 or 409. Is this accurate? If so, why does that mean a one night stand? I know 520 means I luv u because it sounds like wo ai ni, but what’s the reasoning behind the one night stand?

thanks

February 25, 2006 @ 11:36 pm | Comment

I think it’s 419. Originally I thought it was coined by Chinese as I found out only Chinese use them, then I was quite amused to find that it comes from English FOR ONE NIGHT(four one nine). Don’t you native English speakers use it to refer to one night stand?

April 16, 2006 @ 9:13 am | Comment

Please send me how I can connect with Chinese guys. Write me a solotibia@bigpond.com

June 5, 2006 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

Very interesting article and discussions.

I am a Chinese American guy of 55 years old.

I live in the US but visit China often.

I have few gay friends in China.

Do not mind to meet more.

Write me:
lvbjfever@gmail.com

I will go there in April, next year.

Thanks for let me post here.

Love you all,

chico

October 31, 2006 @ 1:48 am | Comment

[...] it’s not your everyday Chinese documentary. I wrote a long time ago about the difficulties gays face in China (I know, a lot has changed since I wrote than in 2002) as well as the unacknowledged crisis of AIDS [...]

October 11, 2008 @ 5:32 pm | Pingback

[...] had any readers, I wrote a post back in 2002, when life for gays in China was much, much different. I described their lives as a plight. The social safety net then was less wide than it is today, and things have improved a [...]

June 30, 2010 @ 2:43 am | Pingback

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