China: Queer blogs for the straight eye

There hasn't been a terrible lot happening in China lately that could be filed under ltgbq news. There's been stories of a lesbian hotline in Beijing, the opening of the country's first university campus queer club, and the usual excitement over pro-gay marriage politician and public intellectual Li Yinhe‘s latest provocative declaration, none of which amount to much.

Or do they? Judging China's major blog portal websites by Western values, if nothing earth-shatttering has been in the news today, why is queer content getting prime placement on most of their front pages? Have gays stomped in and hijacked the offices? Are they selling out to the seductive pink yuan? Satisfying the market share of closeted and curious married men? Or has queer gone mainstream among China's urban, upwardly-mobile, white collar, websurfing crowd?

If it ever were a taboo topic, it hasn't been for a while. Starting with mega Hong Kong popstars like Danny Chan in the 1980s to movie and song icons Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui (not to mention Aaron, Andy and Jordan) in the 1990s, later to Mao Ning on the mainland and now with public personas like the transsexual host of Gossip Queen on Taiwan's Star TV or Jin Xing, ex-colonel in the PLA and current owner of the Shanghai Ballet.

That said, Chinese gay culture is defined by how much of it is fostered by the internet. For a long time, and to a large extent to this day, lack of social space was of made up for by the boom of websites which opened in nearly every city. Lan Yu (aka Beijing Story), for example, which began as a novel published anonymously online and ended up becoming one of the best underground movies out of mainland China in the 1990s, featuring several actors that went on to become mainstream celebrities.

Chinese instant messenger QQ [zh] has the topic front and center on [zh] its blog page right now. ‘Same sex love, can you handle the weight?’ asks the title post, followed by links to two discussion forums, ‘Being gay is a neverending road’ and ‘homosexuality is just another kind of love.’ Lots more on their ‘gay section’ deeper inside [zh]. News portal site has had a feature section embedded up top on its blog site for weeks now. Here are some of the blog posts it currently showcases, the first [zh] from Ah Qiang's highly-read blog, where the blogger openly posts pictures of himself as he documents life with Ah Wei, his partner of over ten years:


The life of two “lucky” men


Ah Wei lies lazily on the sofa with no shirt on, remote control gripped tightly in hand, flipping steadily through the channels before the ball game begins. Worked up like a greedy kid waiting for dinner to come out of the oven.
Ever since the World Cup began, he's “passed” his dishwashing duties over to me, or to put it nicer, ‘family ought to maintain logistics, support the fans’ great and honorable ball-watching work.’ The reasoning may sound a bit weird, but I still agreed. It all comes down to that old saying: deadbeats get what they have coming to them!
While watching the game, he stretches both legs straight out, crossed and rests them on my lap, ceaselessly shaking, telling me, ‘
the left heel, the left heel's itchy. If you don't scratch it, don't even think about surfing online peacefully.” “Help me rub between the big toe and the pinky,” “Oh, hey, massage my knee a bit, I knocked it playing football and now it's a little sore, a little softer, up a bit, now down a bit.” His mouth doesn't stop shooting out directions but his eyes never leave the television screen.


My left hand clicks the mouse as I browse through websites, my right hand half-heartedly follows his directions, rubbing here, massaging there. The second I stop his legs start shaking again. “Hurry up, you can rub and surf at the same time.” “It's almost half-time, I'll go cut up some watermelon for you to eat.” He doesn't forget to sweet-talk me.
When the game gets good, he'll suddenly pull back his legs and sit straight up, cheering loudly, “beautiful!” “ha ha ha” “damnit, idiot, moron!” “No! Missed again!” He yells out commentary to himself. Sometimes he'll start cursing over some controversial penalty. I don't need to see the television, I just listen to his sporadic outbursts and I know what's happening in the game. When the game gets good, he forgets I even exist, his feet don't itch, his knees suddenly don't hurt, and I seize the chance to get my hand back. “Then it starts all over again. In just one game, he wears me right out, all the way out.
Half-time, is when we take our shower. As payment for my ‘foot-rubbing love’, he helps me wash my back. Although it's just going through the motions. Even so, I feel I finally have some return on my ‘investment’, and a warm feeling spreads from the bottom of my heart throughout my body.

If that isn't the sweetest thing you ever heard, further down there's this:


When are you going to change that picture above your bed?



This picture has been hanging above our bed for five years already. I remember when we had just finished renovating, one friend came over to hang out. After checking out the place, she asked me, “Ah Qiang, I just have one question, when are you going to swap that picture above your bed for a wedding photo?” I still hadn't come out then, so my answer was: “maybe never!”
My friend exaggeratedly burst out, “no way! are you saying you're never going to get married?” “Maybe not in this lifetime,” I ambiguously answered. “No, no, how can you say that? Is big brother Qiang worried no pretty ladies want him?” My friend clearly misunderstood my point.
What I meant by saying I can't get married is that in this lifetime I might not ever see a law that allows same-sex marriage. That's what I was saying five years ago, and five years later I still don't see any hope. But I fully look forward to it.
On our eleven year anniversary, Ah Wei and I had our photo taken, blown up and put on our bedroom windowsill. My thinking is that as soon as same-sex marriage is legalized, I'll immediately take down that picture above our bed, and put up our photo together, or else go and get a wedding photo of the two of us in suit and tie, and hang that above the bed. That would be a grand souvenir, a vow, a sort of goal…

A patient search around shows a serious lack of lesbian content. Here's one piece [zh]:

在现实生活中,与其男同性恋过着明目张胆的两个男人生活在一起外人一般没什么怀疑,而对于2个美女在一起亲密生活就会遭到周围的异性恋男人和女人的质疑为 “怪物”变态”,更为麻烦的事情是,美女一直就是男人追随和欣赏的对象,当身边有帅哥或有钱人靠近时,同性恋美女们大都难以启齿的拒绝,而男人会说些讥讽与嘲笑的话,譬如那么漂亮怎么还没男朋友阿,是不是身体有病啊什么的等等疑问.想解释又害怕影响自己在身边同事和朋友中的美女形象,不解释的又经常有男人追随.

In practical life, two men living together, two gay men, wouldn't normally arouse outsiders’ suspicion. But two pretty girls living intimately together would be met with the suspicion of heterosexual men and women around them that they are ‘freaks’, ‘abnormal’. The most troublesome thing, though, is that pretty girls have always been the object of men's pursuits and enjoyment which most femme lesbians, when around handsome men or men with money, find very hard to refuse. And the men will make some sarcastic and mocking remarks, like ‘she's so pretty why doesn't she have a man…must have a disease’ and other questions like that. You want to explain but then you're afraid of disturbing the image colleagues and friends around you have of pretty girls. If you don't explain then you'll often have men chasing after you.

Carrying on with the Sina collection, if you're not hot, says Liang Yongqi, you better have money [zh], not that one doesn't hear that all over these days [zh]. But what's a working class gay lacking the strength or financial means to eke out an independent ‘bachelor’ existence to do? Judging from Heng Guang's story [zh], it seems that many men, having fulfilled the societal obligations of getting married and having kids, feel free to seek satisfaction on the side. In Heng Guang's case, however, his wife sees the QQ messages his lover has sent him, threatens to kill herself if he doesn't break it off which leads to him attempting suicide and the end of his brokeback relationship. That seems to be the dominant narrative, followed by divorce, or the increasingly seen choice to abstain from traditional marriage. Blogger Distracted by the Tian Mountains chose to follow his urges and recaps the last ten colorful years [zh] in vivid detail, including how he first got started:


In those days, information was relatively hard to come by, you had no way of getting the information you needed. I still remember the first time I saw a book called Same Sex Love in the bookstore, by Dr. Zhang Beichuan. The book is very thick, but how could a little teenage boy dare to openly leaf through it? Seeing nobody around, I flipped through the first two pages. To tell the truth, I was in such an intensely nervous state, I have no recollection of what was written in the book. But I knew deep down that what was inside this book was what I needed. Maybe people today see this as rather silly, but it's totally true.

It's not all fluffy comfort food Sina has laid out. Like Lie a Little in his post [zh] ‘Comrades, please live your lives like normal men’, who argues that although it may be tough being gay, it's not easy for straight men either, so stop your bellyaching:


Many queers cry all day about how agonized they are, how lonely, not understood by people. But you have to think about those men who are not gay. Aren't they just as agonized, lonely and un-understood? Even after they get married, which gives rise to other emotions. What I don't understand is why queers like making such a big deal of their unhealthy feelings. Seeing these people so screwed up, I just feel like kicking them in the butt and telling them: you're a man. Queers are men too.

Then there's the top ten lies gays [zh] tell each other:


1. Let's just be ‘brothers’. (This way you won't harass me anymore, or else I'll sue you for incest!)


2. I just want to hold you in my sleep. (Anything that happens afterwards wasn't planned.)


3. I promise I won't tell anyone. (Which means if I tell anyone else, I'll tell them ‘never ever tell anyone else!’)


4. I'm still a virgin. (because my technique sucks; I've tried doing from behind but never could.)

5.我从来不419的。 (我一般都是4n9。)

5. I never have one night stands. (Usually they're several night stands.)

6.我和他只是朋友关系。 (没人规定朋友之间不可以暧昧的)

6. Him and I are just friends. (There's no rule saying there can't be ambiguity between friends.)

7.我永远不会骗你的。 (我只会隐瞒你。)

7. I'd never lie to you. (I'll just hide things from you.)

8.我累了,今晚不想。 (换个人的话,我就不累了。)

8. I'm tired, not tonight. (But if it were somebody else, I wouldn't be tired.)

9.我很低调的。 (那只是自傲和自卑的混合伪装。)

9. I'm very low-down. (That's just a combo of fake pride and inferiority.)

10.我是1。 (但为了你,我可以”牺牲”自己做0。)

10. I'm a top. (But for you, I'm willing to sacrifice and be bottom.)

There's more! Also on Sina are two pages [zh] devoted to the gay blogger community [zh], a page for straights interested in gays [zh] and one just for the ladies [zh] as well. Don't forget the Perez Hilton types here here here and, jumping to Sina competitor Bokee, here [zh].

Moving on to Blog China's front page is the post from Zhang Tuo_001, ‘When homosexuals end up in heterosexual marriages‘:


We might still remember in 2000 when television stations all across the country aired the serial television series Never Give Up, set in a hospital emergency ward. There was one part in the show where a middle-aged man, having just suffered a heart attack, is ushered into the emergency room completely naked except for a bed sheet and an anxious man accompanying him wearing pyjamas. This scene strongly hinted that the relationship between these two men is that of homosexual lovers. In the next shot, a mid-aged woman with an intellectual air brings a ten year-old girl into the emergency room and the little girl runs to the patient, calling ‘daddy…’. The story ends with the woman's cold face, part taking her daughter out and part comforting her: “the doctor says your daddy isn't at risk; that uncle will take good care of him.”



When some heterosexual has the bad fortune of marrying a homosexual spouse, how should they deal with each other? First off is to not avoid each other. Both sides should sit down and discuss honestly. Is there any way, through both sides helping each other, for the homosexual partner to slowly change their sexual orientation? Although they say true homosexuals cannot change, a homosexual who enters into marriage is not necessarily a true homosexual. There are many bisexuals among them, or situational homosexuals. These people, in a happy marriage, can gradually constrain their homosexual inclinations and establish an exceptional family relationship. As for true homosexuals, they are hard to change. And changing brings with it pain and can even induce intense psychological and biological conflicts in people, giving rise to various kinds of mental disorder, even extreme behavior. In dealing with this kind of homosexual spouse, the heterosexual side's smartest choice is to resolve to divorce. There's no need to kill one's self over something that can't be changed and destroy a lifetime of happiness between both sides.

Independent blog aggregator has a queer correspondent of their own in dzl who just in the past week as posted a look at persecution and progress of homosexuals worldwide over the past seventy years and a look at queer characters in recent films and books and some celebrity speculation, leading to a post in which dzl—who claims to be straight—responds to readers who took issue with it [zh].

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