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New Book Probes into Gay Life

It may not be as touching as the love story of two cowboys in the film Brokeback Mountain, but the first study of gay men in China, released recently in Beijing, provides more true tales.

The research, conducted by Tong Ge, a Chinese gay writer, was put into a book offering a wide range of sexual life experiences from more than 500 homosexual males in eight major cities in the country.

The book titled Chinese MSM (men have sex with men): Research on Sex and Self-identification has 15 chapters and is the result of two-year's effort by Tong.

His study has reached out to a larger gay society by exploring the non self-identified gay people who were often ignored in previous gay studies.

China has an estimated population of about 5 million to 10 million gay men, yet many men who have sex with men do not think they are gay, Tong added.

This research is the first homosexual research conducted by a gay man.

Tong has worked for many years on publishing gay literature and the prevention of HIV aids.

The study was supported by the New York-based Ford Foundation and the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, the first homosexual counseling agency in China.

Tong's research is more genuine and reliable because he is considered a confidant of gay interviewees.

"Unlike other researchers, I am a listener not a speaker," Tong said. "My job is to provide a first-hand experience to people who do or do not understand the gay community."

The book reveals an unknown side of sexual life in China's gay society, "70 percent of which, I, as a homosexual, hadn't heard of before," Tong said.

"Cases shared in this book are something never told before," Pan Suiming, director of the Institute of Sexuality and Gender, Renmin University of China said.

When asked about why he wrote the book, Tong said reading this will help people know gay men as normal human beings instead of as patients to be analyzed.

(China Daily February 13, 2006)

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