We interrupt your Crate and Barrel-registered, middle-class American narrative with a
late-breaking ongoing development from the most populous nation on the planet: There are a lot of closeted, Chinese gay men and lesbians marrying heterosexuals.
That’s news, you ask?
Well, maybe not, but the situation has become so prevalent that it even has a name. No, not John Travolta Syndrome: It’s called tongqi or, roughly translated, ‘homo-wife.’ According to The Economist, 70% of gay men are in these untenable situations, says scholar Zhang Beichuan. It’s believed some 16 million straight women are married to gay men in China.
But there appears to be a middle ground emerging that allows Chinese tongzhi (literally, “same will” or “comrades”) some degree of freedom: marrying each other. Sites like ChinaGayLes.com are uniting gay men and lesbians based on a host of preferences that may offend our freedom-loving sensibilities but work well within the Chinese culture.
And while these arrangements still involve deceit—not to mention strategically placed personal items in case the ‘rents drop by—they beat the alternatives, including social isolation, depression and drug and alcohol abuse.
Just don’t expect us to bring a present.