code red

China Might Actually Love Its Gays. We’ve Got a Conspiracy Theory Why


Aren’t Communist regimes supposed to hate the gays? Not in China! There, gay sex has been legal for over a decade! Being gay hasn’t been defined as “crazy” since 2001! Gay relationships barely draw attention! And the whole place is starting to look a bit more progressive than — dare we say it? — America! And, WTF is this? The state-controlled media applauded Shanghai’s first-ever gay pride celebration? The country is starting to look so gay-friendly, it has some calling for everyone to acknowledge all that China has done for gay rights.

Sure, the Chinese government may have a policy on gays called the Three Nos (no approval, no disapproval, and no promotion), but its decision to allow the gay community to grow and even thrive is surprising coming from a nation that is more regularly associated with human rights abuses like torture and wrongful imprisonment. (Hey, just like the U.S.!)


But we’re not entirely on board with the theory that China just wants its citizens to be happy and prosper. Cynics that we are, we suspect ulterior motives! (Especially since it wasn’t so long ago the picture was less rosy.) Such as: China loves to be able to throw things back in the faces of critics.

While Sec. of State Hillary Clinton‘s visit to China this year didn’t include mention of human rights abuses, the U.S. State Department’s new profile of China claimed the injustices are increasing. So what did China do in response? It released its own list of human rights abuses America is responsible for. (Nine thousand words later, we learn violent crime, personality disorders among young people, and a lack of economic and culture rights are all abuses the federal government is responsible for.)

Which has us thinking: Whenever the U.S. gets around to criticizing China again, Beijing can point to how openly and freely its gays live, while in the U.S. we pass legislation to steal their rights away and keep them as second-class citizens. Bada-bing!

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  • Another theory

    In two parts:

    (1) China has a massive oversupply of young men, thanks to agressive sex selection under the One Child policy. A massive cohort of disaffected, sexless young men is very, very bad for a country’s stability. Allowing the young gay men to pair off freely decreases the stock of men seeking female partners, for whatever reasons. Since there are more gay men than lesbians, this tolerance eases the too-many-guys problem, at least somewhat.

    (2) China is still interested in controlling population growth. Gay couples are rather less likely to produce offspring, particularly if gay couples are not discouraged, but surrogacy/in vitro/&c. are discouraged.

  • Leto

    Let’s not overlook yet another possible motivation which is reduced births. Gay couples currently need someone of the opposite sex to help them reproduce–making the process more difficult. Also, in a few years the mismatch between the number of males to females in China is going to cause increased conflict. There will be many more males than females in the general population. This may also play into their tolerant attitude. Interesting times in the world!

  • dgz

    @Another theory: @Leto:
    plus, it helps keep educated gays from emigrating.

  • Jaroslaw

    TO: Another Theory post #1 – Just one possible problem with #(1)” – aren’t you assuming this “oversupply” of single males – due to sex selection – are predominantly or more than average turning out to be Gay? Or since there are so many more guys due to the selection thing, they are “choosing” to be Gay?

    I think China’s tolerance is just something to throw in the face of the USA. Not a bad strategy. It fits with other theories about how China works. I just read a pretty convincing piece that China doesn’t even try to control the internet and cell phones, but inserts their own propaganda and fear mongering information.

  • Jaroslaw

    And of course, “choosing to be Gay” in this case, due to a woman shortage – well, there’s just a host of problems with that possible answer. Most people here don’t think being Gay is a choice.

  • Georgiaguy

    Let’s not forget that China is moving forward, while America seems unable to fight the culture wars to pass ENDA, federal hate crimes legislation, and repeal the law putting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into the legal code. Progress is happening in the states, where gay marriage seems likely to progress in the next few years. Just don’t expect a backward place like Alabama or South Carolina to pass any favorable gay legislation.

  • Another theory

    Jaroslaw —

    No, no, I’m not suggesting that otherwise-straight guys are electing to be gay because there’s a shortage of women. I’m suggesting that if gays and gay relationships were actively discouraged, many gay men would feel some pressure/desire/obligation to marry women in order to participate in a conforming relationship. The more tolerance is granted to gays and gay relationships, the less this impetus, and the greater the number of marriageable women “freed up” for genuinely straight men.

  • Larry

    It’s important to look at this in a historical context.

    Anti-gay attitudes like we have in the West are relatively new in China, having arrived in the Victorian era when China sought to “modernize” by becoming more like the West. Before that, China had a history of being pretty tolerant of homosexuality for thousands of years, with same-sex relationships described in literature and sex between men depicted quite graphically in paintings.

    To put it simply, thanks to its being a predominantly non-Christian culture, China historically didn’t have all the hangups about sex that the West does.

    And I don’t think this is all a PR move by the government. Most people in the high levels of the CCP remain conservative, as do most older people, but attitudes are rapidly changing among young people. I’m out to all of my friends in China, and I never experienced any judgment or condemnation from them. I also knew a lot of gay Chinese college students who were out to their classmates and didn’t have any issues with them.

    I also found that when confronting young people with prejudiced attitudes, it was far easier to sway them than it is to convince homophobic people here. They tended not to be as adamant about their beliefs as Americans often are, which has a lot to do with the beliefs of the latter being grounded in “the inerrant word of God” as opposed to mere social convention.

  • Larry

    Another thing: It’s likely that the two soldiers in the photo aren’t gay and are probably just joking around. People in China tend to be more comfortable with close physical contact with members of the same sex than Westerners, and it’s not uncommon to see straight guys walking around with their arms around each other and to see women holding hands.

  • Alex

    So, I’m going to ask what seems like an obvious question. For the past few months, Queerty has (rightly) been demanding actual results and progress in our rights. So…

    China is having it’s first Pride celebration (at which two events were canceled, even after organizers took steps not to piss off authorities, including not having a parade).

    America’s first Pride events were in 1970, when China was having it’s cultural revolution. There are now Pride events not only in every major city, but deep into the most conservative regions of our country. Omaha, NE for example, has a march

    In China, you cannot get married in the eyes of the state. In America, marriage equality exists or is on it’s way in 6 of our 50 states, though not recognized by the Federal government.

    Military Service:

    People should feel free to dispute my points or bring up other areas, but I’m not quite ready to move to the Middle Kingdom.

  • Larry

    @Alex: I don’t think the writer was trying to say that things are better in China than here, but noting that while China has been making progress on gay rights over the last decade, we have been going backwards (compare: a handful of states with same-sex marriage to 30 states with gay marriage bans in their constitutions).

  • macscruff

    @Larry: Larry is right. Asia mostly does not have the oppressive Christian culture.

    Perhaps many places in Asia do not need a gay pride parade. I mean, if it’s no big deal, then who cares.

  • Jaroslaw

    Larry – your points are well taken to a degree, but what about the sex “park” that was demolished because the penis statues were visible from the outside? Wasn’t that in China and reported here on Queerty? Seems like they could just made taller walls or lower statues, but to demolish the whole thing?

    That sounds like sex hangups to me!

    Tolerance may not be a PR thing, but then again, decisions don’t have to be made using only one factor. Seldom is one person completely in charge – the Mao’s and Stalins are few and far between.

  • Dan

    I completely agree with Larry. And Jaroslaw, why do we have to equate gay rights with a sex park? Gay or straight, large statues of penises displayed in public would make most global citizens uncomfortable, including Americans.

    Have you been to China lately? You can be very public about your sexuality, though you can’t in certain regions, just like in the US. I’ve flirted with plenty of guys, and kissed one in public without feeling uncomfortable there. But that’s different from whipping mine out or creating a large statue of a penis that is higly visible.

  • DaveO

    They should let Chinese gay couples adopt unwanted Chinese girls.

  • Jaroslaw

    Dan #14- I didn’t say we need a sex park. Larry said the Asians don’t have the sex hangups we do in the West so the response to completely demolish it seems extreme. Not to mention in China’s often severe form of government it seems like the developers of the sex park could hardly just start building something without telling officials what it was. Did you forget the people that poisoned the toothpaste and pet foods were shot, probably without a trial even?

    Please also re-read my post – re: the sex park penis statues: I said very clearly the walls could be higher or the statues could be lower. I assume you either were rushing while reading or is there some other problem?

  • Larry

    @Jaroslaw: When I mentioned sexual hangups, I was speaking of the culture as a whole in a general, historical context.

    Most of the anti-gay attitudes and prudery that persist among the leadership are the result of ideas imported from the West at the turn of the 20th century and adopted from communist thinking later in the 20th century.

    That’s not to say that there is no work to do for gay people there, but it’s possible that things will improve and develop a lot more quickly and seamlessly than they have in this country, largely because the country doesn’t have such a huge population of fundamentalist Christians, and decisions are made by leaders from a ruling party that requires members to be atheist.

  • Alex

    @Larry: And I would argue, with all due respect, that we’ve made great progress in the last 10 years. I watched “After Stonewall” a few months ago. Since 1990, we’ve seen:
    *Lawrence v. Texas that not only ruled sodomy laws unconstitutional, but also recognized relationships as deserving of protection.
    *Same sex marriage has essentially come into being as a legal institution in 2001 in Canada and the Netherlands. In 2004, Massachusetts started performing those marriages, and is still doing so today (and, barring a Handmaiden’s Tale type of political change in America, probably won’t stop). There are now 6 states with marriage legal or on the way, including Iowa, where the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that marriage rights are due to LGBT couples.
    *Public attitudes have shifted massively, as has the dialogue. For example, a majority of conservatives and of Republicans now are opposed to DADT. That would have been inconceivable in 1999.

  • Jaroslaw

    OK – Larry – I got you. I sincerely do not say the next thing to be argumentative, but …..It can also be true that things that change easily in one direction can go back in the opposite direction just as easily.

    Time will tell, won’t it?

  • M Shane

    China is a capitalist country; as stringently so as the U.S. So we don’t want to be too critical of rights abuses, since they go with capitalism as the Neocons or neoliberal see things. We also owe them a whole lot of money and they own a lot of U.S Real Estate.
    They don’t have the reigiousextremism that runs rampant in the U.S. sio why would they prevent gay relation given the population problem and shortage of women. It solves several problems.

  • IanRen

    how come this became a birth control issue ???
    Chinese people just didn’t had a history of hating gays, politics or religion…
    Sorry for bad grammar…
    And our internet is still in control of the gov. trust me. we can’t visit youtube…

  • dgz

    @M Shane: China is capitalist? news to me.

  • amissio

    Dear lord, guys. The naivete dripping from this article (and the subsequent responses) makes me cringe.

    Did you know that China has the world’s most stringent product safety standards? They do! On the books at least. But does anyone remember those baby toys that killed the tiny tots that teethed on ’em? Yeah.

    Did you know that China has the world’s toughest environmental standards for cars and the like? They do! On the books. ANd yet nineteen of the twenty most polluted cities in the world are in China.

    Things are not rosy for gays in China. Sure, it’s grand that the state-controlled media cooed about Shanghai’s first pride parade. But it’s a front. Sure, homosexuality was decriminalised, but in a society with more laws than people it’s easy to nab people for trumped up charges and make them stick.

    This article also doesn’t mention anything about, oh, 90% of China. Sure, Beijing and Shanghai have gay clubs. Woopdefrickingdoo. You don’t have to go further down the list in the biggest cities in China to discover cities that aren’t so enlightened; I lived in a “liberal” city of 10 million people (and, according to made-up statistics from the gov’t, the richest city in china) and there was one tiny underground gay club.

    If things were so frickin’ fantastic in China, do you think it would be news when the first gay-straight alliance was founded at Sun Yat-Sen University (Zhuhai campus) three years ago? (And that group had approximately four members last time I checked.)

    China is not a good place for gays, and all the intellectualizing of its history, dissection of its government’s public face, and silly anecdotes plucked at random from the web will not change that fact.

  • purses

    Chinese gays can not be married, the state does not have any law for this.

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