“Love Is Not A Choice”: China’s LGBT Awareness Campaign
By: Alexandra Temblador
In China, an LGBT awareness campaign is making a big splash across social media sites. The China LGBT Awareness Campaign is speaking to gay and lesbians in China and is asking them to come out of the closet. The main message of the campaign: Love is not a choice.
In America, the notion that being gay or lesbian is “a choice” is slowly fading away into the ridiculous abyss it came from, but for most of China, LGBT is still thought to be a choice, a perversion, or a mental illness. Most Chinese citizens, especially those in the rural areas don’t have much knowledge about homosexuality or what it means to be transgender. Similarly, the older generations believe it’s a phenomena created from the internet or brought to China by Westerners.
Although China abolished “hooliganism” in 1997 which criminalized homosexuality (six years before the United States abolished sodomy laws) its LGBT movement has stalled for many reasons. For one, the Chinese government has never issued a statement on LGBT issues. Also, censorship laws that are enacted by the Chinese government does not make it easy for widespread dissemination of LGBT information. Fifty three percent of LGBT in China say they remain closeted for fear of discrimination which isn’t surprising since there are no anti-discrimination laws in place to protect them. Furthermore, the fear of discrimination is more real when we take a look at how a Pew poll in 2013 found that 57% of the Chinese population were against accepting homosexuality.
The fear of coming out in China is so ingrained in its LGBT community that many feel pressured by societal norms and their parents’ wishes to get married to unsuspecting brides and husbands. There is an estimated 16 million “tongqi” or women who unknowingly married gay men in China. Since divorce is a cultural taboo, many of these women suffer depression and have even resorted to suicide when they discover their husband’s sexuality.
Still, there is hope for China. The LGBT community is coming together on social media with campaigns like The China LGBT Awareness Campaign. Many of these online communities are creating small films about what it means to be gay or transgender. Although there are not any openly gay Chinese celebrities, there are openly transgender celebrities like Jin Xing in China which does serve to give many LGBT in China someone to look up to.
Groups like the China LGBT Awareness Campaign are paving a future for the LGBT community in China. They are using photographs of homosexual couples and heterosexual couples in loving embraces with the message: “We did not choose to be homosexual/heterosexual. We just are.” This message’s purpose is to help Chinese citizens become more socially accepting of LGBT so that LGBT individuals feel comfortable expressing their sexuality publicly rather than continue the practice of silently hiding one’s personal life.
Hopefully soon, the last line of the China LGBT Awareness Campaign’s message will show Chinese citizens (and everone around the world), that “Happily, the world is big enough for all of us.”
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