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Gay and lesbians in China strangled by family bonds   2011-07-27 16:56:00

Three years ago, when I brought my "girlfriend" to our graduation party, all my classmates admired my courage in coming out as a lesbian and felt happy for us. They were dreaming of my lesbian wedding one day and all the girls in my class volunteered to be the bridesmaids.

Gay or lesbian marriage isn't new in China nowadays. Although the couple can't legally register their union, some still hold wedding ceremonies. Unfortunately, only a minority get a happy ending.

After three years with the same woman, I'm at a crossroads now. Almost 27 years old but "single," I received several calls from my parents every week to urge me to find a man and get married. I never considered coming out to them, as I am the only child of a traditional Chinese family.

My father is the headmaster of a local school and my mother is a doctor. If I told them I'm a lesbian, my father would faint and my mother would threaten suicide unless I "changed." Even if my parents could finally accept my choice, unbearable rumors from neighbors and relatives will overwhelm them. In my hometown, a small town in Hunan Province, people are not tolerant enough to accept homosexuals, but smear us as weird, shameless and dirty.

In order to deal with the pressure from my parents and not to shame my family, I tried looking for a gay man to form a fake marriage with. I expected to find a gay "husband" to put on a show for each other's families with, and then we can live separate lives. But the realities turn out to be more complicated.

So far I have met five guys. We met in couples with my girlfriend and their boyfriends and negotiated marriage details.

The most controversial thing is the baby issue. Four of them firmly demanded babies. There is one guy who is almost 40 years old and even said he could accept all my conditions, the only thing he insisted on was that I must have a baby for him, either through sex or artificial insemination.

I felt uncomfortable being treated like a baby machine, but I did understand the situation he was in. He was the eldest grandson of a big family, who fled his hometown 20 years ago and discovered his sexuality in Beijing. Although he lives a happy life with his boyfriend, his nearly century-old grandmother still awaited his marriage and a future great-grandchild back in their hometown.

Chinese homosexuals don't have it easy in a country where family is everything. Fake marriages are one solution, but do they only bring more problems?

The law recognizes the marriages as real, causing property and other legal issues. And will children of such marriages be able to grasp the situation, or will they be confused by two sets of daddies and mommies?

Chinese society is certainly becoming more and more tolerant toward homosexuals. In big cities, people are accustomed to seeing two boys or girls hand in hand, hugging or kissing.

An online video of a man proposing marriage to his boyfriend at a mini-concert circulated rapidly on in June, and the video attracted thousands of supportive comments. But I heard privately that the openness of their relationship came at the cost of their relationships with their families.

Some Westerners think Chinese homosexuals have it comparatively easy because there are no religious prohibitions on sexuality.

But our families can be just as restrictive and oppressive as any church or religious text. My parents keep calling me to ask when I will get married. At least we are in an era of shengnan and shengnü (over-aged leftover men and women) now, which could act as a shield to deal with my parents for the moment. But how long will it last?

source : Global Times     editor:: Shirley
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