Shanghaipride week is underway and one of the thorny issues discussed is the problematic marriage of gay men to straight women. Yao Minji reports.
Kathy, a 28-year-old small business owner, has been struggling for the past four months about whether to divorce her husband, who admitted he was gay after being confronted by Kathy and her mother. The couple has a 28-month-old son.
"I never met any gay man in my life, and I never suspected such a thing," Shanghai-native Kathy (not her real name) tells Shanghai Daily in an interview. "At first it felt like the end of the world."
Her spouse, a successful businessman who also talked to Shanghai Daily, is not unkind, just indifferent; he is a patient father. But they never had sex after their child was born. While she never thought to complain, he had a boyfriend who was openly gay among friends. Kathy and her mother suspected a mistress and did some snooping. The truth was a bombshell.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community in China is slowly coming out of the closet and the shadows, with more support groups and online communities, larger gay pride parades, more homosexual weddings (not legally recognized in China) and franker discussions of many issues.
The ongoing ShanghaiPRIDE (www.shpride.com), which runs through Saturday, is a celebration of all about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual. It includes drama, exhibition, a film festival (running through Thursday) featuring homosexuality-related short and feature-length movies and ends with a BBQ party.
Many gay men still choose to marry, however, since they face enormous family and social pressure in China to wed, have a baby and carry on the family bloodline. Prominent sexologist Zhang Beichuan in Qingdao, Shandong Province, estimates that at least 10 million women in China are married to gay men. He says more than 80 percent of homosexual men are married or will eventually marry.
Gay men are called nan tong xiang lian and their wives are tong qi, or gay man's wife.
"I feel sorry and embarrassed, but I didn't really have a choice about getting married," Kathy's husband tells Shanghai Daily.
As single child, like many of his peers under the one-child policy, he is expected to wed and sire a child. Kathy's husband, now in his early 30s, once told his parents that he didn't ever intend to marry - and he was severely criticized and threatened with loss of inheritance.
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