China’s Gays Live Well – But Quietly – Under Communism

Time magazine spends some time this week looking at gay life in Communist China: a delicate balance, to be sure:

There’s never been a better time to be gay in China, but as [gay club] Destination’s somewhat schizophrenic combination of outer reserve and inner exuberance demonstrates, it still pays to be careful. Beijing’s attitude has been described as a Triple No policy: no approval, no disapproval, no promotion. That hands off approach — a sort of commercial don’t ask, don’t tell policy — is emblematic of the delicacy with which the Communist regime is learning to deal with many of the issues concerning personal liberties that are increasingly being raised by its burgeoning middle class.

For their part, homosexuals in China seem perfectly happy to pursue their lives within the broad boundaries allowed by the government, albeit not without the occasional snipe at the authorities. It’s no coincidence, for example, that the once ubiquitous term tongzhi — comrade — is now only heard as a slang term among young Chinese for gay men.

Despite the limited limitations, gay activists and citizens claim things are getting “freer and freer” with the passage of time. They’ll be ruling the world in no time!

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  • J

    I know there are a couple of gay bars in Shanghai, but shanghai is also way more liberal than Beijing, I mean, traditionally.

  • arochom

    Gay men and women may unwittingly promoting one of China’s controversial and draconian policies: One family, one child. Fewer heterosexual may translate to fewer births.

  • Ben

    I am an american gay man currently living in china (beijing). I would have to say that from a governmental perspective, the “triple no policy” barely holds true. corruption here is so rampant that cops instead find other ways to collect money from bar owners or go-ers for upholding the triple no policy.
    This article reminds me of somthing from the chinese press. and the government’s PR machine convinces people to write about how things improve, no matter how bad they still may be.

  • dhruv

    Being Indian living in Beijing, its easy to compare the two countries. Whats common in both countries is the tremendous ignorance/denial on the issue. The major battle lies in the family grounds.

    Legally definitely china is doing better, indian still got sodomy laws.

    Whats strikes me is that both communism/democracy have somehow failed to handle this issue, government in both the countries would rather live in denial and not talk about it at all.

    Asia has a long way to go with gay issues.

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