Fake marriage a real option for gays, lesbians

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, November 6, 2009
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When 31-year-old Xiao Gong chats in a coffee shop with his girlfriend about their future wedding, anyone overhearing them would think they were a love-struck couple.

Truth be told, the marriage is just for appearances - Xiao Gong is gay and his "girlfriend" is a lesbian - and both want to keep their parents happy without coming out of the closet.

In big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, this form of marriage for appearance is becoming trendy in the gay and lesbian community.

"For most gay men and lesbians in China, one of their biggest obstacles is parental pressure to get married," said Xiao Gong, who works in an international airline company and refuses to give his full name.

"I started to think about it two or three years ago when my parents began asking about my personal affairs more frequently," he said.

According to a recent survey on douban.com, over 86 percent of the more than 300 homosexuals surveyed are thinking about fake marriage.

"We'll appear to be husband and wife to the outside world," Xiao Gong told China Daily. "In fact we are close friends. It's just a white lie to comfort our parents and other social groups. We don't want to show our true identities."

The survey also shows that, compared to lesbians, gay men pay more attention to fake marriage as they get older.

"I think it has something to do with Chinese men's traditional duty to have descendants," said Xiao Gong.

"I know my parents' limits, especially my father's. If they can't accept my brother divorcing his wife, they definitely can't understand why my partner is a man."

However, less conservative gays and lesbians born in the 1980s and '90s tend to express their sexual orientation in public and are against marriages of convenience.

"The whole idea of a fake marriage delays the protection of Chinese gay and lesbian rights for at least 10 years," said 23-year-old openly gay Mu Lin, who just graduated from university and started his first job at a small media company.

"Marrying a lesbian might make a gay feel better, ethically, compared with marrying a straight woman, but in essence it's all the same. Why should gays always compromise?" he said.

"We have to create a bigger environment that accepts homosexuality and fake marriages are certainly not the solution."

Zhang Mumu, a 32-year-old lesbian who came out of closet with her girlfriend this year, said helping the parents of gays and lesbians is a more urgent problem.

"They're the ones who need more help. In modern society we've almost been accepted by the public except for the approval of our parents," Zhang said.

"They (parents) are in a helpless situation because they can't go to friends or relatives and refuse help from us, but they need psychological support."

Wu Youjian, a woman regarded as the first Chinese mother to publicly support her child's homosexuality in 2005, is holding out hope for other parents, and in 2008 started a hotline for relatives and friends of gays and lesbians.

She also maintains a blog and travels nationwide giving lectures and visiting parents who have gay and lesbian children. Recently in Shanghai she gave a lecture at Fudan University called "A gay in her mother's eyes".

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