My child is … gay

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In Chinese society, where carrying on the ancestral line is a duty, it can be hard for parents to accept their homosexual child may never marry - at least in the conventional sense. But as Shi Yingying finds in Guangzhou, there is help at hand.

The most difficult part of being in a gay relationship in China is often when the couple goes home and breaks the news to parents. [Photo/China Daily]

The most difficult part of being in a gay relationship in China is often when the couple goes home and breaks the news to parents. [Photo/China Daily]

Seven years ago, Wu Youjian became the first Chinese mother to openly support her gay son on television. Seven years later, she is still a lone voice among the parents of gays and lesbians who struggle to accept their children's sexual preferences.

Xiao Qiang (not his real name), 44, is one of them.

"I watched her speech on TV, but I just couldn't do it her way - hug my son and accept the fact that this boy, who I watched grow up with such pride, favors men over women."

Xiao says he went home drunk every night for a whole month after his high school aged son revealed his sexual orientation because he fears he will never have a grandson. It is illegal for same-sex couples to adopt children in China.

"It was the biggest wish of my life, why I worked so hard and brought my whole family to Guangzhou from my hometown in Hunan's Shaoyang, so my heirs can have better lives."

Xiao runs a hair salon in Guangzhou's bustling Tianhe commercial district, and makes about 7,000 ($1,123) to 8,000 yuan a month.

Twenty years ago, he arrived in Guangzhou as a migrant worker and worked as a security guard, pinning all his hopes on his son and saved to buy him an apartment.

"Now I have to work even harder to make sure I have a grandson, as the black market prices for surrogate mothers in China is extremely high," Xiao says.

He has done his homework and says a grandchild from a surrogate mother will cost him anything from 120,000 to 0.5 million yuan.

"You've got the high-end option in California, where surrogacy is legal and your baby is born with an American passport And then you have the lower end option of doing it on the black market in China."

While Xiao worries about the economic implications, 66-year-old Xu Meifeng claims her son coming out caused her medical problems.

"I felt like I was pushed over the edge when my son came home two years ago and brought his foreign boyfriend. I couldn't even stand hearing the word 'homosexual'," Xu says, adding she has had insomnia since that day.

She admits worrying about her 32-year-old's lack of a prospective daughter-in-law, but it never even occurred to her that he was gay.

There was no one in her family or among her friends she could confide in.

"I would simply turn away every time my friends talked about their grandkids."

For both Xiao and Xu, help is at hand with the support network Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. The NGO comprises 150 parents of lesbians and gays in China.

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