By: Daniel Otero
Nobody said this topic was going to be easy or less than controversial, and what a great way to expose a worldwide issue affecting ever presently China.
It has always affected the ancient Middle Kingdom since the days of the Tang and Song Dynasties. Where already Chinese philosophy was exposing “The Art of Love” to the masses and males were shown copulating in paintings.
Today, five percent of the population is homosexual or LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender) in China and they are flying the multi-colored rainbow flag for all to know, “I’m coming out!” The ‘doors of the closet are opening’ and 50 million homosexuals want to be recognized as equal citizens here in China. In love, with family, at work and to adopt children; love is love and should be respected for all to enjoy the same benefits. However, this percentage can be easily reduced publicly when confronted by dichotomy or peer pressure.
So, what’s the problem? Gays haven’t been able to fit into this present-conservative system. And what has been stated or prophesized, homosexuals will be accepted and be able to marry in less than a decade. Is this true? I often wonder, and it can happen.
China is right now taking ‘giant leaps’ to accept homosexuals and presently many gays have been in the news. There has been further growth for tolerance in China, compared to other Asian and Africans countries across the globe, etc. They are from those being blessed in a Buddhist temple (a gay couple) to a student ‘coming out’ in her graduation waving the LGBT flag.
How can this happen and why? It happens with the phenomena of modern society. When a country develops, people become better educated and more open minded.
I would dare say that at least 10% of my University students are gay and how are they able to function on what is considered a ‘grey area’ in China? Honestly, it’s tough and complex. And I have to admire these kids. They have a tough road ahead.
In my case, my family had been going through the same problems almost three decades before.
Coming from a Spanish-macho background it took me time to open-up and accept what I called, ‘those people’ or by using discriminatory remarks like queer.
For China it’s been a longtime and coming… My experiences have been mixed when my students have opened-up to me about their homosexuality.
For some [if they are gay, of course], their parents are willing to love and accept them as they are! However, this is a small portion. For others, it’s the fear of being told that they are rejected or forever ostracized, which is the majority. And some parents, relatives or friends of the homosexual just consider it a fad, this group is usually neutral. These are the three current positions in China.
There is the extreme case of sitting with a student and his parents and telling them about their son’s homosexuality. The response, oh, not too well! Especially when it came from the mother; she dramatically started beating her chest, calling herself a bad mother and her husband and I holding her down so she wouldn’t jump from the third story window!
Visiting towns like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the gay community is alive, well and thriving. International or cosmopolitan communities are better at accepting gays. It’s actually more natural and acceptable amongst my foreign and liberal-Chinese friends.
The problem stems when going into the more traditional communities in smaller cities. The situation amongst family can become rather sticky!
And what’s happening on these wicked Friday and Saturday nights in Nanjing? The illegal gay-dance clubs come alive on the back streets of Nanjing University, Shanghai or Sanshan Streets.
Makes you feel like you’re listening to a disco song from Oliver Cheatham, “Get Down Saturday Night” or watching the movie, “M. Butterfly”; as the young and spirited LGBTs are secretly cruising down the avenue for that fun, fun, fun!
What was rather shocking for me, when I noticed a transgender man working as a guide in the city of Xian! As surprising, it was noticeable for me coming and understanding the looks and mannerisms of transgender people from my experiences in Western society. The Chinese person that was with me was quite confused and shocked that this was actually happening in ‘real time’! A male dressed as a female…
What advice do I give gays? Don’t marry out of family pressure, but marry in love. Don’t force yourself into a heterosexual relationship, because later it can become utter hell. Then, many lives will be destroyed! Experiment, learn to live happily. First develop your career and financial independence. Then, when you find your ‘life partner’ talk to your parents. Those are the steps to follow, at least for now.
The important thing is to recognize, it’s not about gender… It’s about love!
What I’ve taught is tolerance. In a word, we don’t have to agree with gays, but we shouldn’t discriminate against them. Understand that being homosexual is not a mental disease, creepy or for those men or women who love the same sex don’t carry the risk of AIDS. Once they stay in a monogamous relationship or have protected sex they should be fine.
Now, sex is still a taboo in China and one must be careful; therefore, try to access educational books which teach the proper concepts of sexuality or if you can talk to a professional counselor or psychologist, that will be even better. I would recommend this step even more and there’s no problem in this. It doesn’t make a person crazy, etc.
To be an open homosexual in China takes courage; so, make sure the people around you have the maturity and understanding to accept you. If not, keep your privacy and business to yourself.
My source whom is gay told me, “My ideal ‘freedom’ situation for a gay person in China is that every gay person dares to say out loud who they love and hold their lovers’ hands and kiss on the street, regardless of others’ reactions!”