How Does China View Gay Families? | Speaking of China

17 Responses

  1. Jo Gan
    Jo Gan August 27, 2010 at 7:33 pm | | Reply

    As a Black woman living here in China.. I have to say that Joeclyn in her beautiful way told you the truth.. however, I will be a little more direct. They will treat you horribly here… I know how they treat people that are different. I am different and married to a Chinese man and I have lived here for 2 years in the same small town and they still look at me like I am walking around with two heads.. I have spoken to students of mine or are obviously gay.. and they have told me although I think girls are more lovely.. I will do what my parents want… I have some men that will move to abroad because there is no way they would be accepted here. Unfortunately, China is still very closed and very traditional when it comes to family matters. Even if your marriage is horrible.. it is better to stay in it and have an affair than to divorce. They are just not ready over here… hey… they are barely ready in the states…

  2. melanie gao
    melanie gao August 29, 2010 at 8:21 am | | Reply

    The results from Li Yinhe’s study are right in line with my experience. Most people I know say they would accept a gay family member but they would encourage them to choose a hetero lifestyle instead because life is hard for gay people in China, even in a big city like Beijing.

    So it *sounds* like a fairly open atmosphere where people might not necessarily support a gay family member but they wouldn’t actively oppose them either. But in my five years here I haven’t met one single openly-gay person, let alone someone in a committed gay relationship. And I’ve met a lot of people.

  3. globalgal
    globalgal August 30, 2010 at 2:15 am | | Reply

    My hairdresser here in Beijing is openly gay. He is Chinese/Korean and grew up in Moscow. His family is very supportive of his lifestyle, but he tells me that being in gay in Beijing is miserable – from the discrimination he feels from other Beijingers to the lack of social outlets.

  4. globalgal
    globalgal August 31, 2010 at 3:04 am | | Reply

    Actually, I started thinking about this after I commented, and I realized that I know three more openly gay Chinese, all living in the third tier city in Shandong where I lived for 3.5 years. One is a young man who runs a clothing shop with his parents who are aware of his orientation. He liked to hang around with the foreigners there because he felt he could be more himself. The other two were a lesbian couple (They also spent much of their time with foreigners.). If Beijing is tough, imagine life in a third tier city!

  5. Jonathan
    Jonathan September 2, 2010 at 11:24 pm | | Reply

    Wonderful post!

  6. Laura
    Laura September 10, 2010 at 3:15 pm | | Reply

    I asked my husband this question – his family is from a “small” town and are very traditional. He said that his family would probably prefer to have their children be heterosexual but would love them just the same if they were not. They want his happiness first. Now, outsiders on the other hand… don’t know! I’ve never been to China, but will be there in a couple months, and I’ve already been forewarned that people will probably want to touch me, gawk, etc. because I look so different.

    Like Jo Gan said, she still gets strange reactions to her skin color. So, you’ll probably get strange reactions as well. I just hope you don’t let it get to you… and maybe you can change the perceptions of those people around you to make it easier for others in the future. I will pray that you will have all the boldness you need to be yourself and live authentically.

  7. 枫叶
    枫叶 October 24, 2010 at 3:10 am | | Reply

    My boyfriend is Chinese, I’m Australian. We’re both under 20. I think younger people are much more open than the older generation; he is completely out and has been through most of his school life. His family doesn’t accept but some of his cousins do.

    Anyway, I think it will start to slowly change.

  8. webster
    webster May 13, 2011 at 2:53 am | | Reply

    So…I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost 1 year and I’ve been in China for the past 6 months with him. I spent some time with his parents (about 3 weeks or so at his house), and there was a LOT of friction…
    I assume his parents must know he’s not straight because he’s never dated, and because of things he said when he was younger (i.e. not feeling attraction when asked about girls…etc) anyways, one day his dad became very upset and they got in an argument. I had a pretty good idea about what was happening, but played dumb, because I didn’t want it to escalate…(my boyfriend told me later once we had left that his dad had proclaimed that he felt me and my boyfriend had become too close for comfort and it disgusted him)…things only got worse as the day progressed. His aunt and uncle and cousin came that night and his dad again brought up the topic of me and my boyfriend’s “closeness”…after some pacification from his uncle they left and things cooled some…but it was still very uncomfortable. Now my boyfriend has seemed to have back-tracked a little…I feel very confused. He actually told me that if something happened to our relationship and we separated, he’d just find a woman and marry her because he just doesn’t want to hurt his mother. But on the other hand, he DID stand up to his father and told him, that “even if [he] was gay, it doesn’t matter…it’s [his] life and he can decide to be with whoever he wants.”
    So in short, I feel like I’m in between him and his parents (well, mother) and I don’t want to be there…I feel as though I will lose in such choice if things become tough…

  9. Josh
    Josh November 28, 2011 at 5:54 am | | Reply

    Ah, Webster, I am in the EXACT same position as you are. I am an American, and have been dating my Chinese boyfriend for 2 years. We moved to China 6 months ago so that he could accept a Professorship in a university in a second-tier city.

    I am openly gay, but in China I feel I’ve had to go back in the closet, which is a very miserable thing… It was so hard to come out in the first place! My boyfriend is only out with a few friends in the U.S. and Shanghai, but mostly definitely not out in general, especially not in China. This is exacerbated by the fact that he is a professor, and would probably lose his job, or at least support from his colleagues, so it is somewhat impossible for him to be out in this city.

    I really want him to tell his parents, though I never push the issue. I hate feeling like I am just a casual friend of his to everyone he knows. I have visited his parents several times and it’s usually OK, though the language difficulties make it a bit hard. I feel they would most likely hate me if they found out about our relationship.

    I also feel like I will lose on any issue between my boyfriend and his parents. He has talked many times about finding a fake wife or a real wife and what we might do. I’ve gotten pretty angry about it, as we are in a committed relationship, why would he be talking about finding a wife!?

    In China, there is also the annoyance of everyone trying to hook me up, or commenting on the fact that I am single (so they think). This is a very hard issue to deal with, and I feel I may need to pretend I have found a girlfriend in America on one of my visits there. Sigh, life became so complicated when I moved to China.

    However, I do like living in China (though I do miss America), but this issue with my boyfriend and his family, more than any other issue, makes me feel we must move back to the States to have a normal life.

  10. Sarah
    Sarah December 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm | | Reply

    I’m pansexual and my family knows it the one’s who don’t, I’m not hiding it from but it’s really none of their business. My boyfriend wasn’t too happy about it when I told him. He just wanted to know how I became that way. I said I didn’t “become” this way, I just am. He thinks it’s weird and doesn’t hide the fact that he thinks Americans are weird for accepting such things. He mentioned that if we have kids, he wants them to marry the opposite sex. That he might be a little bit ok with the girl being a lesbian but definitely not the boy. I told him that my children will be allowed to be who they are and that I cannot be with someone who will not love them unconditionally and accept them for who they are and they will be allowed to be with whomever they want. In the end he agreed and if we do someday marry and such thoughts do come true, I know he won’t like it but I’m taking him at his word that he’ll be accepting. But he also thinks it will be a little ok because we won’t be living in China. In fact, most of the things he’s “ok” with is becaus we won’t be living in China. Most often to me that means that if we were going to live in China, he and I would not be together. But we’ll see how things go.

    I think it’s too bad that your situation is like that. I think no matter what, you guys need to think of what is most important to you. It is all important but what can you live with? If you’re committed and want to spend the rest of your life together, there will need to be sacrifices and you’re probably going to hate losing any of it. But decide what’s more important to you and go from there.

  11. James Dale
    James Dale February 4, 2012 at 10:46 am | | Reply

    I am English and haved lived in China for 2 years. I have spent a year and half of that time with my Chinese boyfriend. I have been happy almost all of the time. His family do not know and neither do most of his friends, however those friends that do know have not changed their opinion of him and us. In fact, some of them actually like him more….Not just for being gay, but for being open.
    Yes Chinese familes have a deep culture thats not just about their children, its about honor. As they can only have one child, they want to ensure their child is the best possible child they can have, and if they feel they have a gay child, they dont want this to be seen as unhonorable to the family. They may feel embarresssed when talking with other families.
    His family do not know he is gay, but they often say ‘if we are too each other than that as too our wives we will make our wives the happiest people alive’….we both even joke with them….oh we are wives together……China is not as open as the West, but its becoming increasingly common to be more open open….In fact, i personally dont think his parents would mind…but his parents have sacrifised alot for him and he said when the time comes that he can sacrifice for them, he shall tell them…

    I can agree with both sides….Chinese parents only have one child…they want to ensure this child has / is the best and will do everything in thier power to do so….Once their child has protected their parents too, they will start to understand.

    Culture is different…but Love will never change.

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