Badpuppy Gay Today

Friday, 05 September 1997

URBAN CHINESE GAY LIFE EMERGES MOSTLY IN CITY PARKS

Growing Tolerance Finds Closeted Young People Socializing at Restaurants
Still Maintaining Facades at Home They Come Out to Each Other


By Warren D. Adkins

 

While in America, gay men are now being entrapped in public parks in record numbers by plainclothes police, China, where homosexuality was once as little open as sexual equality, seems to have become more tolerant of a social value that police in cities like New York, Miami, Cleveland, Los Angeles and San Diego blatantly ignore at Democracy's peril. That value is freedom of assembly.

China is, it seems, changing, while U.S. police are suddenly showing a side that has remained hidden since the 1950s and 1960s when enticement and entrapment daily provided police with a perverse sort of amusement.

In Shanghai, according to a September 2 front page report in The New York Times a waterfront area restaurant also caters to same-sex lovers and friends. There, reporter Seth Faison found "plainly dressed men in their 20's and 30's" applauding the talents of a singing drag star as they dined on steamed fish and Chinese vegetables.

The star dazzled the crowd, recalls Faison, with "irreverent humor."

It seems that urban Chinese gays and lesbians are discovering that officialdom doesn't much bother anyone unless groups attempt to meet and organize. Socialization minus politics is thus the rule of each gay day, which, perhaps, is not exactly democracy in action either. But, fortunately for China's gay populace, socialization by itself is a great leap forward.

Much of it, according to the Times, takes place in public parks. Willis Bivins, a GayToday source who travels worldwide, notes with wonder at what he calls the amazing sociability of the Chinese people. "They live in housing stacked row on row on top of each other in the big cities and elsewhere," he told GayToday, "and they seem to maintain a civility and mannerliness toward each other, considering such crowds, that's astounding."

"But if you want to go home with a Chinese gay man, that's a problem," says Bivins. "They live at home, but, with the family waiting, there's no privacy there. Everything happens outside their homes."

Gay males in Shanghai tell reporters and visitors that no one in officialdom much bothers them anymore, and that gay males and lesbians are free to come and go as they please just so they do not cause commotion. Isolated incidents of police actions against gay bars in rural areas have been noted, however.

Increasing numbers of visitors from the West are bringing home stories that tell of a relaxation of overconcern by Chinese police. Homosexuality in China is not a crime. Previously when gay men were arrested they were charged with unspecified crimes such as "hooliganism." Reports in Rex Wockner's Weekly International News (GayToday archives, World, September 3) indicate that growing numbers of American gay and lesbian couples are adopting Chinese babies, specifically girls.

As was once true in the United States, lesbians in China are less likely than males to go out actively cruising for partners. They meet, according to those interviewed by the Times, through circles of friends.

Most gay Chinese youths keep their feelings to themselves when at home or in the business world. But in the last four years there has clearly been a marked change for the better in their day to day social lives.

Previously, Chinese authorities, like those in the U.S. in the 1950s, turned gays and lesbians over to "medical officials" for electric shock treatments.

1997 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
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