How Do Gay Chinese Avoid Disappointing Their Parents? By Faking a Straight Marriage


We’ve widely read about how anti-gay sentiments in Chinese culture have less to do with religious-based objections to The Gay than a societal importance on getting married. Which explains why some Chinese might be nudging closer to supporting same-sex marriage, because hey, at least there’s a wedding. And then there are Chinese queers who still feel pressured to get straight married, but found a neat circumvention tactic.

Fake a straight marriage with another gay couple. Writes Elizabeth Murphy:

They had what they thought was the perfect solution, but it turned out that the men are just too picky. They think that Yu Xiaofei, with her cropped black hair and dark-rimmed glasses, looks too much like a tomboy, and they think that Jiang Yifei’s distaste for children is suspicious. So what are these young Chinese women to do? They’re 24, out of college, employed, living at home – and they’re in love with each other and desperate to find a way to stay together. “The most important thing is that we cannot hurt out parents,” Yu said. “They put a lot on us.”

That means finding two men in a similar predicament. Their plan is simple. Yu and Jiang will find a gay male couple, arrange a living situation and lay down some ground rules. Then, they’ll pair off with the men and get married, just as their parents expect them to do. They still have time, and they’re using it to take in every last kiss and touch before these gestures become even more complicated than they already are. Still, their proposed arrangement is no grand tragedy for the pair – it’s practical.

Beneath it all are the Confucian family values that still underpin Chinese society: As a son or daughter, it’s your duty to maintain and carry on the family line by having children. “We have to – that’s tradition,” said Jiang, who sports long caramel-colored hair and clinking bangle bracelets. “That’s what (our parents) think we should do.”

This sounds totally healthy and completely unlikely to yield years of required therapy.

[Miami Herald]

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  • veg

    – fascinating –

  • drums

    I’m gay and Chinese and I won’t lie, I’ve thought seriously about doing this. It’s nearly impossible for non-Chinese people to understand, so I won’t even bother to attempt via the Internet of all things. I’ve heard all the arguments about how it’ll just all end in tears, but (most) Chinese families don’t really want you to be happy, they want everyone to maintain a manageable facade of happiness. It may be unhealthy, but you can’t exactly judge other cultures unless your own is perfect in every way.

  • El Brucio

    @drums: That was basically North America 40 years ago. Hopefully with globalization, Chinese families will adapt a bit more quickly than others have in the past.

  • jeffree

    This same scenario also happens among Thai, Vietnamese and Korean L/Gs, or so I’ve read/ heard. Perhaps other countries or ethnicities do this as well.

    Once a child is produced, pressure is partly off.

    What’s interesting is that even among first generation Asian GL couples whose parents follow tradition, there are dating sites/ “matchmakers” who litterally arrange such marriages.

    Not that long ago in rural USA; these kinds of families also came to be. I’ve heard me some rumors….Maybe they still do.

    Someone with a PhD in history or anthropology could build a career on that kinda study, if they aren’t already doing that !

    As long as gramma & gramps get a grandbaby or two, theyre pretty much happy !

  • jeffree

    Good story, John Rogers! You won’t get major clickage, sad to say but it does help those of us, like me, who forget that other people in other places live in more dire circumstances. I’m less apt to scream “poor me” over the next 24 hours !! :-D

  • Rey

    Unlike here in the US,there’s no fire and brimstone condemnation of gay men in most Asian countries. Being gay may not be ideal, but is quietly manageable. Having lived in the Philiippines as a child, one way men negotiated their same-sex attraction was to marry a woman, have children, and still see men on the side. Doing so fulfilled the familial obligations, which was paramount, while still getting your groove on.

    I don’t think these men required therapy later. These were arrangements in which the husband, the wife, the boyfriend(s), and the society at large were all quietly complicit, reducing the conflict between innate desires and social roles. Do straight French men seek therapy for having mistresses? I don’t think so.

  • John (CA)

    If China is anything like Japan, then being gay is primarily about getting laid. It is regarded as a fetish rather than an orientation. While there are plenty of gay establishments in larger Japanese cities – 300 bars in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district alone – there’s little sense of community as such.

    Every week, thousands of Japanese salary men tell their wives they are going to Osaka or Tokyo for a “business meeting.” In reality, it is understood by all parties involved that they are going to brothels, pornographic theaters, bathhouses, and bars for homosexual activity. Then they return to their wife (who dutifully pretends she knows nothing about her husband’s proclivities). Lesbian women are doing this with greater frequency as well. After a time, these people might even produce a couple kids to keep the parents off their back. And many of them are actually quite happy in their own strange way.

    Keep in mind that homophobic violence is extremely rare in these countries as well. It is not like in San Francisco or New York, where you are given a false sense of security, only to have some disgusting creature come out of nowhere and hit you with a baseball bat.

  • Jackie Chan

    weeeeeeooweee I’m Chinese Weeeeeee

  • adman

    The “men” from these cultures are the most disgusting pigs, it’s insane. I am creeping into daddy age, and the asian boys and their schemes are so off-put by the fact that I have a partner and don’t play. They can’t imagine anyone who is gay having any sense of self worth. I get treated like I’m not pragmatic or something, don’t I know I am a round-eye gay animal made for their amusement? I used to have a lot of asian friends when I was younger, but now as a part of a couple I am a pariah among them and happy for it, quite frankly. People who are so provincial suck, point blank, whether they are Asian, American, or whatever.

  • JonDorian

    @drums: Your “manageable facade of happiness” would also apply to most American Suburbs.

  • Samwise

    @drums: I’ve heard all the arguments about how it’ll just all end in tears, but (most) Chinese families don’t really want you to be happy, they want everyone to maintain a manageable facade of happiness. It may be unhealthy, but you can’t exactly judge other cultures unless your own is perfect in every way.

    Other cultures nothing. That sounds exactly like evangelical Christians in the U.S.


    That is a great freakin’ idea!!! If the strhaters are gonna deny me the right to get legally married, at least we can find a couple ‘o Lesbian sisters and have a fake marriage to get some goodies in return for all those damm wedding presents we have given over the years to other couples! :-p

  • scott ny'er

    @drums: “but (most) Chinese families don’t really want you to be happy, they want everyone to maintain a manageable facade of happiness”
    LOL. Man, I am laughing with you, not at you. Because I TOTALLY understand. The Chinese culture is very complex. I hear ya, my Asian brother.

  • jason

    The Chinese are awful, just awful. A Chinese acquaintance of mine says that Chinese parents beat their children senseless in order to get them to do their homework and excel at school. We should never take a leaf out of their book.

    The Chinese are also control freaks. There is a mass neurosis in that country.

  • Samwise

    @jason: Is there a single depth of assholery to which you won’t sink?

  • j

    @Samwise: I knew it was him before I read the name. One only imagines what a person like him is like in real life. Lives alone with fourteen cats anyone?

  • Samwise

    @j: Hey, that’s an insult to crazy cat ladies (and gents) everywhere.

  • Luxury

    I’m genuinely starting to think that this is all an act. You are unbelievable.

  • spiritedrandy

    @Drums: I’m sad about your plight. One of the most freeing things I’ve learned (ironically at my very progressive Episcopal Church) is that all important decisions are conflicts of competing values. So it sounds like you are caught between your desire to be authentic and your respect for your family. I find recognizing that there is no perfect solution is, although frustrating, liberating. I hope you find peace and love in your life.

  • missanthrope

    Faking marriage? Why not, straight Americans do that all of the time.

  • yeah

    China already had its openly gay A-list movie star (Leslie Chueng), where in US there is none.

    The chinese/hongkong/taiwan movie industry has produced tons of gay themed movies that are very much mainstreams and there is no fuss about it at all and appreciated by both the straight and the gay population.

  • jason

    Unlike you, I’m not politically correct. I don’t allow people to hide behind labels.

    I call a spade a spade. Your defense of the Chinese is unbelievable considering the Chinese have been known to execute political prisoners and homosexuals. Shame on you.

  • Steve in Shanghai

    Totally get this…

    My mum is chinese and though she has some what westernised she reacted in a very chinese and confucian manner to my sexuality.

    When I told her i didn’t want to live a life and that doesn’t she want her son to be happy, she responded with “that’s selfish”.

  • Steve in Shanghai

    a life that is a lie i meant to say.

  • Gary

    I’m gay and in a civil partnership with my younger Chinese partner.

    My partner doesn’t know that their son is gay let alone about us.

    It’s something I have had to deal with, but do not like. He tells me if they were to know they would hate me!

    Trouble is they, his mother, sister, etc are due to visit from China and I / we will have to pretend we are not only not gay, but are not in a relationship. Sadly they are due to stay for a while :(

    I Know it’s crazy but what to do, no matter what I’ve said there is nothing he can do, it’s the way it is !

  • Yellow Belly

    It’s like something out of a sitcom.

Comments are closed.