Fudan Daxue offering 1st course in gay studies

And it’s a hit with the students. From the ever-unlinkable SCMP:

University in Shanghai to offer China’s first course
in homosexual studies

A university in Shanghai is offering China’s first class on homosexuality and gay culture, and several hundred students have applied for the 100 openings, a professor in charge of the course said on Tuesday.

Professor Sun Zhongxin, one of the course’s instructors at prestigious Fudan University, said its introduction resulted from strong interest among undergraduates.

“I used to teach Gender Study for undergraduates and found they were very interested in the topic of homosexuality,” Professor Sun said.

The class is full but “more students are still applying,” Professor Sun said.

The course aims to break down widespread ignorance and prejudice against gays in China, another instructor, Gao Yanning, was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Daily newspaper.

“We will pay more attention on how to have a proper view about homosexuals,” Gao was quoted as saying by the paper. “We will give students an equitable judgment on homosexuals and help eliminate students’ discrimination.”

A secretary at Fudan’s sociology department said Gao could not immediately be reached for comment.

Gays were strongly persecuted after China’s 1949 communist revolution, condemned as products of decadent Western and feudal societies. Puritanical official attitudes have gradually changed since the late 1980s, and in 2001, the China Psychiatric
Association ceased listing homosexuality as a mental illness.

Looser enforcement of laws on homosexual behaviour has allowed small but thriving gay scenes to emerge in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities in the developed east.

Yet, given the disdain shown to homosexuality by traditional Confucian culture, gay men and women in China still tend to hide their sexual orientation.

To me this is great news and long overdue. Let’s hope we see more of this. And please, please, don’t change your minds the way you did over the Vagina Monologues two years ago! And while it’s very welcome, I wish they’d go further and do something about this:

While reports of violence against gays are rare, discrimination by family members and co-workers remains strong and Communist Party officials have ruled out legislation outlawing such unfair treatment.

I know, we have to be patient and give them “space” to grow and learn. Let’s hope that more good news like this helps push them further in the right direction.

The Discussion: 16 Comments

Perhaps this is one of the consequences of a male-child favouring one child policy (if one accepts that sexuality is a spectrum, rather than the “born gay or straight and never change” view).

August 16, 2005 @ 7:49 pm | Comment

I think they are “coming around” a little. It wasn’t all that long ago that the government considered homosexuality to be a psychiatric disorder and therefore locked gays away in mental hospitals.

August 16, 2005 @ 8:01 pm | Comment

Man, you’ll love this article, then:


(sorry about the chopped link).

Fortunately, they give equal time to the story of a guy who after years of trying, finally threw up his hands and broke out the Judy Garland records:


August 16, 2005 @ 8:17 pm | Comment

Daily linklets 17th August

Feedster have a monthly Top 500 blogs, and somehow yours truly came in at number 408. Flattered but undeserved. Right, on with the show… * Harry Hutton: lucky bastard. Exploiting Communists and loving it. * Stocks or real estate for China’s middle cl…

August 16, 2005 @ 10:38 pm | Comment

Well it’s about time the CCP became more consistent. I mean, years after Mao was being sexually serviced by his male soldiers…..

August 16, 2005 @ 11:54 pm | Comment

weekly girl blogging: chinese lesbian

weekly girl blogging: chinese lesbian

August 17, 2005 @ 12:15 am | Comment

As soon as the leadership figures out that gays are more interested in fashion and interior design than politics, are far too couth to spit in the streets, would never join that dreadfully tacky Falun Gong and that they provide the perfect solution to the population imbalance, I expect a major Chinese policy change.

Hu will proclaim “to be gay is glorious!”

August 17, 2005 @ 1:31 am | Comment

Haha, good one.

This is a small step in the right direction but I still think that the massive cultural bias against homosexuality in China will remain for a very long time.

It’s so ironic that in Thailand, another Asian country with a very strong and unique culture, ladyboys are totally accepted for what they are in Thai society. Just walk down the street or turn on the television during primetime and you’ll see ’em.

I realise ladyboys have little to do with homosexuality but it is definitely an “alternative” lifestyle.

August 17, 2005 @ 5:47 am | Comment


i am sure it won’t become a solution to population imbalance in china:


August 17, 2005 @ 6:13 am | Comment


The extremely prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai is offering a course in gay studies. Further, several weeks ago, a state owned news magazine ran a cover story on “the troubles of China’s 30,000,000 homosexuals”. This is surprising to me because,…

August 17, 2005 @ 6:56 am | Comment

I received surprised reports that there was a positive program about gays on CCTV a couple of weeks ago. http://tinyurl.com/8xyfq

August 17, 2005 @ 8:07 am | Comment

gay culture actually was accepted in chinese culture. we have stories like “cutting sleeves” in Shi-Ji (sorry, don’t know how to translate). and in the Ming dynasty, in fujian province, man could marry another man, only later, one of them will marry a woman, to continue the “family line.” all in open. i don’t know when it was changed, probably during Qing dynasty, when the man suppressed some of the Han culture.

The class in Fu-dang is definitely a much health attitue toward homosexuality. much better than being arrested just be gay. when i was in xi’an, i heard few stories circlulating. (there is a film about the gay sub-culture in BJ. how a gay youth know the route of some handsome policeman, and actively seeks to be arrested by him. forgot the name)

even though the general public still view gay as “abnormal.” many young people i talked to, openly discuss the issue and many of them don’t hold discriminating opinions. to my surprise, a lot of the young people i know simply accept homosexual as it is. it might just be the crowd i hang out with are more open minded, but it is something i am glad to see.

education is a great first step toward right direction. chinese always use the silent treatment when it comes to homosexual. “don’t ask, don’t tell, shut you out” kind of approach. hopefully classes like the one in Fu-dang could open more people’s minds.

oh. btw. a friend in BJ, who is gay, is going to get married, to a woman, after 5 years in a relationship with his boyfriend. citing to me, “family and social pressures for a son to continue the family line.” sad.

August 17, 2005 @ 11:08 am | Comment

Kevin, your last sentence is what gets me so upset with how many Chinese view homosexuality. So sad. I wrote a long post about this two or threee years ago that you may want to read, from when I lived in Beijing.

August 17, 2005 @ 11:37 am | Comment

Things are definitely changing, I read the Fudan class was addressed by a senior professor from Beijing who openly discussed his relationship with his lover.

My experience with young Shanghainese echo’s Kevin’s: acceptance is growing rapidly among the generation now in college.

During most of its history, China has been accepting – even celebratory – of male-male love and sex. This has at times extended to female-female relations as well. The current attitudes are only about a century old, picked up mainly from western Christians.

For anyone interested in the topic, I cannot reccomend enough “Passion of the Cut Sleeve” by Bret Hinsch (1990), which takes a well-documented look at Chinese attitudes towards homosexuality throughout its history.

Anyone living here can still see traces of these attitudes. Chinese guys do not grow up with the same macho, homophobic notions that young western guys are instilled with. Just look at physical contact between men, for example.

This seems even more clear to me based on incidents in which I accidentally (on my part, anyway) ended up in bed with straight guys. The inhibitions against male-male contact just aren’t there, like they are in the west. Seems like a healithier, more natural attitude towards sexuality.

Anyway, great news from Fudan!

August 18, 2005 @ 1:52 am | Comment

Confucius’ Zheng Ming (ÕýÃû) is the answer.
Of course we have all been hearing the question.

August 22, 2005 @ 9:53 am | Comment

I think it’s a bad idea introducing homosexuality into China. It will only spread disease, mess up the nation. But I guess that’s the agenda of some of you guys.

August 27, 2005 @ 8:19 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.