By Xiaoying, Xie Dec.8 2016
“At first, I thought being a gay means no friend and no love. “
Lixiang began to be a Chinese LGBT activist from every early ages. He told us, at first, he was longing for a community with same kind of people as he is. He was longing to know more about himself and about Chinese LGBT groups that are largely invisible in Chinese society. During the journey, he started to develop AIDS final care and LGBT culture advocacy as his lifelong career. He said one thing influenced him deeply as he walks along this road.
It was still back in 2010, when Lixiang just began to step into AIDS prevention and care, he started to do AIDS tests with his friends just for fun. However, for the first time he did it, he found out that his friend showed positive for AIDS. “We were just watching the two lines gradually appearing (which means positive for AIDS) on the dipstick, and the world feels like it stopped. We didn’t talk for 10 minutes, and the first sentence my friend said to me was ‘so does that mean I can be free from marriage now?’” Lixiang said to us it suddenly showed him, in a cruel way, how gay people suffer social pressure and, even worse, family pressure. AIDS, for his friend, was not an intimidating disease. Instead, it was a gateway to escape from all the pressure from his family to force him to get married to female that he had no love for.
Chinese LGBT group, or LGBT group living in culture of Confucianism, face some unique culture pressures from its strong traditional social culture values that are still very strong in modern society (Chou,2001). Filial Piety is perhaps that one that LGBT suffers most from. Chinese culture emphasis strong tie and relationship with one’s family and respect for elders. One manifestation of this value is filial piety which asks people to obey their parents. That also means that disobey of ones’ parents could inflict the feeling of guilty on to people. While most Chinese parents of people in their 20s were still largely ignorant of LGBT groups, these parents usually show strong disapproval of their sexual orientation. This situation gives strong mental stress onto Chiense LGBT groups since they view their minority sexual orientation as disobey to their parents. And they view themselves as morally guilty towards their parents. Also, another presentation of filial piety value is that people should have children to keep family prosperous. Therefore, people who won’t produce children are viewed as not contributing to their family development. With the single-child policy, most people in their 20s right now are single children to their family. That means if they do not choose to have children, their family line would not be able to grow further more. This situation puts great pressure on Chinese LGBT group form their parents and family. This is why Lixiang’s friend actually felt relief since AIDS freed him from the pressure of getting married and have children with female.
With the introduction of western culture, these traditional values are gradually changing. Nevertheless, they are still very strong in China, especially in the rural area. There is still long way to go for LGBT activists to figure out how to merge the traditional culture values with the new ones.
Chou Wah-Shan (2001) Homosexuality and the Cultural Politics of Tongzhi in Chinese Societies, Journal of Homosexuality, 40:3-4, 27-46, DOI: 10.1300/J082v40n03_03