China Girls Abroad
Rainbow scarf whispers - seeking Northern Lights
Rainbow scarf whispers - seeking Northern Lights

 

I was knitting a scarf at the end of the summer when it was still warm in England, my German friend saw it, laughed and couldn't help asking: ‘Isn't it a bit too [ ... ]

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The Girls from Ipanema
The Girls from Ipanema

I've been so disappointed by the interpretation of the song The Girl From Ipanema at the Rio Olympic Games opening ceremony. 

 

When the man started singing to the [ ... ]

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Paula Fummey - a funky nightingale
Paula Fummey - a funky nightingale

Paula Fummey cuts an unusual figure for a soul singer. We met first at a large charity concert in Govanhill. Next to me on the front row, a wheel chair suddenly arrived. Seated in [ ... ]

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Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Easter festival in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 2015
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Easter festival in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 2015

 

Stroked by sunshine and breeze on this beautiful Easter sunday, we cycled to Golden Gate Park for a glimpse of the famous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who are hosting their [ ... ]

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kiss

For many years, homosexuality has been under ground in China. Only after 2001, being gay was officially erased from the “mental illness” list. But look at the situation now, there are many grass-root LGBT organizations or committees in Beijing, Guangdong and other big cities. In March 2012, during the National People’s Congress, the female sociologist Yinhe Li asked support from people’s representatives to promote the marriage bill draft. Though she suffered a cold reaction, it was a breakthrough.

 

 

But elsewhere in China gay people are finding a voice, particularly through new media. At the moment, the gay issue is almost absent in all the mainstream channels, like TV programs, newspapers or magazines, so gay people are seeking alternative ways to let their voice be heard. The internet and social networking websites are becoming one of the major ways for people to gain and share information with the outside world, so naturally, these websites, like blogs, weibo (a Chinese version of twitter) have become the most important ways for gay people to speak out their voice, and organize campaigns in China.

 

One typical grass-root LGBT organization in China is PFLAG China (Parents, Friends, Lesbian, and Gay in China), and was founded in 2008 in Guangzhou. Within 4 years, they expanded to 8 cities, and the fans on Sina Weibo have exceeded 22,000. With the help of more than 200 volunteers, they have organized a series of successful events. And they are using social networking websites to provide a platform for people to comment, share their stories, and discuss gay people’s future in China.The director of PFLAG China Qiang has written in his blog that how the Spring Festival has become the toughest time for gay people in China. 

 

         “In order to stay away from family’ pressure, most gay people choose to go to remote cities to work, so that they can only get nagged over the phone. But during the Spring Festival, the whole family gets together, and all relatives ask about it, as well as parents’ face to face conversation. Many people can’t stand it and compromise. Also, when they look around their straight classmates, they see friends get married, and have children one after the other. The seemingly “lonely” gay people would feel even more pressured from this mainstream atmosphere. At this moment, those who don’t have a strong determination or who can’t stand the pressure would just follow their parents’ wishes and get married. ”


The alternative media have also helped to promote gay campaigns: In January 2013, a 29 year old gay man committed suicide. He was a tall, talented, bright person, but couldn’t take the pressure from his Mum and couldn’t stand disappointing her, so in the end, he chose to escape. This incident was like an earthquake, shaking up people conscious. Before he left the world, he wrote a long letter on Sina Weibo, telling the whole story of him being gay and how things became intolerable. After his death, this letter  was immediately spread to most Weibo users. Then hundreds of gay people’s parents wrote a letter, published on Weibo and on their blogs, appealing to the whole society:
 

              “We hope all the parents can understand and accept our gay children. When the children received prejudice or discrimination in the society, please open your arms and hold them inside. Our children being gay, is not an illness, nor a mistake or a crime. Please don’t hurt them with your 'love'. If you love them, please respect them first.  ”
 

The internet helped gay people to share information and let people know many personal stories. For example, Qiang, the director of PFLAG China told of endlessly running to the Civil Affairs Department to get the organization registered, but still couldn’t get a permit. He said, he had been to the Civil Affairs Department 7 times, and every time he had to give a long moving speech to the person who served him. The first time, a young clerk’s reaction was “gay? No way, too sensitive”, so Qiang had to keep handing it over to a higher and higher person, right to the top secretary. Some officials said “there is no law saying gay to be gay is legal, so we will put it aside for a while”. Some suggested Qiang to get rid of the word“gay”. But Qiang insisted on keeping to the original. Now, more than one year has passed, this application has been rejected four times, and is still waiting for consideration. Just as Qiang said “for educational or environmental organizations, registering is just a process, but for gay organizations, it’s not a matter of process, but a matter of how the people in charge of civil affairs see the gay issue.” Still Qiang believes, this process is worthwhile, and the process is also the purpose. Through this application, people’s beliefs are being challenged, and gay people’s rights are being proposed and spread.
 

There are many other stories which have promoted discussion about being gay in China. For example, stories like the first mum who publicly supports her daughter being lesbian, stories of gay government officials’ nightmares of being blackmailed, and the stories of how 16 million women in China are in marriages with gay men, and whether or not such marriage be dissolvable if the women want to divorce after finding out the truth.
 

China is a country where the gay issue was almost invisible before. But then with the growing communication with the world, and the strength of gay movements in the west, more people have a better understanding about their sexuality and dare to stand out. But most people’s prejudice against it is still very strong, and painful tragedies are still happening. So it has become urgent to speak out and change attitudes. At the same time, the emergerce of the internet and social networking websites are the perfect platform for gay activists to push the wider public to discuss all aspects of gay issues. So China has started and it’s on the way.


 

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