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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 Sina.com 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:

两个男人的”性”福生活

The life of two “lucky” men

阿伟光着膀子,懒洋洋的躺在沙发里,手中紧握遥控器,在球赛开始前不停的切换着电视频道。那份焦躁像极了一个嘴馋的少年等待一份大餐出炉。
世界杯开赛以来,他把洗碗的业务全部”转让”给我了,还美其名曰:”家属应当做好后勤,支持球迷伟大光荣的看球工作。”理由听上去比较奇怪,但我居然答应了。真是应了那句老话:懒人有懒人福!
看球时他将双腿伸的笔直,双脚交叉放到我的腿上,不停的抖动着,提示我:”左前掌,左前掌痒。不帮我挠你休想安心的上网。””大脚头与小脚头之间帮我捏一下,””哎哟,膝盖帮按按,打球碰到了有点酸疼,轻一点,上一点,再下一点。”他嘴里不停的发出指挥,眼睛却一刻也没有离开电视屏幕。

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.

我左手轻点鼠标浏览着网页,右手有气无力的按他的要求一会捏,一会按。稍有停歇,他的脚又会抖动起来。”快点,一边上网一边按摩两不误。””等会中场休息了,我去切西瓜给你吃。”他不忘拉拢我。
比赛精彩处,他会突然抽回双腿,”蹭”的一下坐起来,大力的鼓掌,”漂亮””哈哈哈””死人,真臭,笨死了!””哎呀,这球也踢不进!”他自顾自的高声评论着。有时还会为裁判有争议的判罚骂上几句。我不用看电视,就凭他忽冷忽热的评球声,一场球赛的高潮尽收耳里。球到精彩处,他会忘了我的存在,脚不痒了,腿也不酸了。我乘机可以歇歇手。
球赛一到沉闷处,他又躺倒在沙发上,双脚再次抖动起来”脚后跟帮忙捏捏。”周而复始。他看一场球下来,我累得吭哧、吭哧的。
中场休息,是我们的洗澡时间,为了报答我的”捏脚之情”,他会象征性的帮我搓搓背。不过敷衍了事。就算这样,我还是有种”投入”终有回报的感觉,一股暖流从心底漫至全身。。。

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:

何时换下床头的这幅画?

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

flower.jpg

这幅画已经在我们的床头挂了五年,记得家里刚装修好时,一个女性朋友来玩,参观之后跟我说:”阿强,我只有一个问题,什么时候把你床头的那幅图换成你的婚纱照?”当时我还没有出柜,给她的回答是:”也许这一辈子都不换了!”
朋友夸张的叫道:”不会吧,你的意思是你一辈子都不结婚?””也许这辈子都结不了婚。”我含糊的说。”不会的,不会的,怎么这样讲,我们强哥还怕没有靓女追?”朋友显然理解错了我的意思。
我所说的结不了婚是指:可能我这辈子都看不到法律允许同性登记结婚。五年前我是这样说的,五年之后的今天我仍然看不到希望,但我满怀期待。
十一周年纪念日那天,我跟阿伟照了一张合影,放大后摆在卧室的窗台上,我心里想,一旦同性婚姻合法化,我立即把床头的那幅画换掉,换成我们的合影,或者去照一张两个男人打着领带的结婚照,挂到我们的床头,那是一份隆重的纪念,一份宣誓,一种追求。。。

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:

在那个年代,信息相对比较闭塞,你无法获取自己需要的信息,还记得第一次在书店看到了一本书叫《同性爱》,作者是张北川老师,书很厚,但是一个十几岁的小男孩哪里敢明目张胆的翻阅,发现旁边没人了偷偷地翻上两页,说实话处在高度紧张的状态下,书里写了什么根本都没印象,但自己心里知道这本书里的东西都是自己需要的,也许现在的人们看来感觉很可笑,但这的确是事实。

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:

多同志,整天叫喊自己苦闷,自己孤独,不被人理解,但你要想想那些不是同志的男人,他们不是也一样苦闷着、孤独着、不被人理解着,即使他们结婚后,又会派生出另外这些情绪来。我就不明白了,为什么同志那么喜欢把自己的不良情绪放大,看着这些人窝囊的样子,我就想揣他的裤裆一脚,告诉他:你是一男人,就是同志也还是一男人。

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.我们还是做好兄弟吧。(这样你就不会再骚扰我了,否则我告你乱伦!)

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

2.我只想睡觉的时候抱抱你。(抱了以后发生的事真的不在我的计划之中。)

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

3.我绝对不会告诉别人。(就算我告诉了别人,我也会跟他说:”你千万不要跟别人讲哦!”)

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.我还是处男呢。(因为我技术太差了,所以后面试了好多次都不行。)

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‘:

我们也许还记得,2000年我国各地电视台热播的、以发生在医院急诊科里的故事为背景拍摄的长篇电视连续剧《永不放弃》。该剧中有这样一个片段:急诊室送来一位突发心脏病的中年男性他全裸的身体用被单遮盖,在一旁焦急陪伴的另一位男性,身穿睡衣。这个场景强烈地暗示着两人的关系——同性恋性伙伴。镜头一转,一位有着知识分子气质的中年女性带着一个10来岁的女孩进入了急诊室,女孩扑向病人;叫着爸爸……之后的剧情是:那女人一张冷漠的面孔,边拉着女儿向外走边安慰着女儿:”医生说你爸爸没有危险了,那位叔叔会很好地照顾他的。”

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.”

SNIP

当某异性恋者不幸遇到了同性恋的配偶,在婚姻内应该如何相处?首先是不要回避,双方要坦诚地讨论一下,是否有可能通过婚内的相互帮助而慢慢改变同性恋方的性取向偏移程度。虽说真性的同性恋是无法改变的,但是可以走入婚姻的同性恋不一定是绝对的同性恋,其中有不少是双性恋或境遇性(一过性)的同性恋,这部分人在良好的婚姻关系中可以渐渐地收敛自己的同性恋倾向,建立较好的家庭关系。而对于真性的同性恋,他们很难改变,而且改变带来的痛苦甚至会导致他们心理生理的强烈冲突,引发各种精神障碍,甚至做出极端的行为。面对这样的同性恋配偶,异性恋的一方最理智的选择就是果断地离婚,没有必要为一个无法改变的事实殉葬,毁了自己和对方的终生幸福。

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 Bullog.cn 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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