Trends and Buzz

The Chinese Government: It's OK to be gay

The Pink Republic of China

The magazine pictured on the left is the August 1 issue of state-owned Xinhua's biweekly Globe. The large cover line reads:

30,000,000: the troubles of China's homosexuals.

This a rough translation of the beginning of the feature article:

Surveys have shown that China's homosexual population could be as big as 30 million. According to statistics from Chinese forum portal, there are more than 50 influential gay online forums... the actual number of gay online communities is considerable.

However, because of many factors, this vast group of people has always been unknown, and lived their lives in the closet. Because of physiological and psychological differences, difficulties in communication channels and lack of information, the outside world looks on homsexuals with ignorance and suspicion. This adds to the psychological burden and inner conflict that homosexuals may have, seriously influencing their lives and mental health.

After researching this article, Globe journalists recognize that this group is both special and normal. Some of them long to be regarded as normal, and also hope to be treated as equals in a more tolerant society. When interviewed, scientific experts and homosexuals alike all sais that respect from society and recognition by their families are the only things that will really improve the difficult position of homosexuals.

Just two weeks later, the state-owned newspaper China Daily published an article about a new course at Shanghai's prestigious Fudan University: Gay Studies:

Set to start in September, the course will examine the health, legal and social issues relating to homosexuality, said Sun Zhongxin, an associate professor of sociology who will lead the course.

"We hope this course, which is an optional one open to the whole university, will introduce the study of sexual orientation to more and more students," Sun told China Daily yesterday...

...Fudan University offered a small-intake homosexual studies course for graduates in 2003. Many undergraduates were also interested and applicants for the course numbered more than 1,500, according to Sun.

These stories represent a direct message from the state, from the central government contolled by the Communist Party: It's OK to be gay.

Conventional wisdom in the West suggests that 10% of any human population is gay, meaning there are more than 130 million gay Chinese. You might prefer Globe's figure of 30 million, which is equal to half the population of Great Britain.

The fact that influential organs of the central government have unambiguously recognized the rights of so many people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a cause for celebration — if you believe in old fashioned ideas about freedom.

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