A turning point for gays in China?

This is certainly encouraging:

About 80 gays and lesbians from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan had taken four days off work and spent hundreds of dollars to attend the first Tongzhi Conference held in Hong Kong since 1999.


Donning rainbow necklaces on which they hung their name badges, the attendees listened to lectures on coming out, safe sex and same-sex dating, among others. These are routine topics for gays and lesbians in the West, but for this audience — mostly people from mainland China who were able to travel to Hong Kong because of recently relaxed travel restrictions — the gathering is an important, if primitive, step toward earning equality.

The article describes young Chinese people coming out to their parents, and how the Internet has provided the medium for gays in China to communicate with and meet one another. There are now more than 300 gay web sites in China, according to the article.

I found this especially moving:

It might have sounded like Homosexuality 101 to American ears, but when Rager Shen told his story, his listeners were stunned.

“I came out to my mother recently,” the 21-year-old from Shanghai said plaintively to an audience of about 40 other Chinese tongzhi, or homosexuals. “I always wanted to tell her that I am gay, and, finally, I did it. She was very upset, but I told her the purpose was so that gays like myself could someday live more easily. She has calmed down a lot now.”

Many sat in awe as Shen described his experience, insisting later that they could never do such a thing. Others pestered the slight, spiky-haired college freshman in a bright orange polo shirt about whether his act was selfish and whether he had merely unbur- dened himself by burdening his mother.

Shen argued that despite her anguished response — she confined him to their home and confiscated his cell phone for a time — he is “quite certain I did the right thing because she is my mother, and I want her to know me.”

In a country where bad news about censorship is only getting worse, it’s extremely encouraging to witness the progress that’s being made in gay rights. It was only three years ago that the government took homosexuality off its list of mental illnesses, and things are continuing to improve, slowly but steadily.

Related post: The plight of China’s gays

The Discussion: One Comment

That’s very inspiring.

Today is “Liberation Day” in the Netherlands, commemorating the end of the German occupation. To mark the occasion, there was a small gay festival at the Homomonument here in Amsterdam. But sadly, there really weren’t very many people there. Maybe it was the lousy weather, or maybe it was the fact that everyone was partied out from Queen’s Day last Friday… but the turnout was pretty dreadful. (For the record, the main Gay Pride holiday is in August.)

It seems that we in the West are far too willing to take our freedoms for granted. But when you consider that last weekend in Seattle, tens of thousands of people attended a rally aimed specifically AGAINST gay rights, it’s clear that we still have to be very, very vigilant.

At least China is, apparently, moving in the right direction.

May 5, 2004 @ 5:04 pm | Comment

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