By Horace Lu
A cross-dressing garbage collector has won national sympathy after his house was burned by a fire and he was subsequently ridiculed by both news commentators and video site Tudou.
The report aired on a television station in Qingdao, stating that a fire broke out in the storage room of his home on Sunday afternoon. The report ended with the footage of the oddly-dressed Da Xige (大喜哥 or Mr. Great Happiness) returning home. The anchor then made a comment in a very mocking tone, saying “What on earth has happened? I want to know more about this than just the fire itself.”
Tudou posted the video on its weibo the next day, describing Da Xige as the “Qingdao Freak” and a “monster”, inadvertently turning Da Xige into an online celebrity overnight.
A blogger with the pseudonym Laoben Shizi (老笨狮子 or “an old silly lion”) visited Da Xige’s house and posted more details.
Da Xige, whose real name is Liu Peilin (刘培麟), is now living alone in a slum in Qingdao. The 56-year-old garbage collector is struggling to pay back 10,000RMB (around $1,600) in debt which he borrowed for his mother’s medical bills.
Liu says he has to use fire for heating and cooking because he has no access to electricity. But he says he definitely put out every fire safely before he left home, and he suspects that someone set his house on fire on purpose.
Liu’s bedroom was largely intact despite his storage house being burnt black.
Liu is said to love reading newspapers and books as well as keeping a diary. Laoben Shizi, the blogger, says he saw “a thick pile of diaries” in Liu’s bedroom.
An unconfirmed report also says he was once in love with a mute man who was very nice to him. They once lived together, but Liu lost contact with him after the mute person committed crime and was sent to prison.
Liu is still waiting for his love to come back, according to the story widely circulated online.
Usually, cross-dressers can expect little more than mockery and sarcasm in China after being exposed online. However, after details about Liu were unveiled, he quickly won national sympathy.
Western China Metropolis Daily, a popular newspaper in Western China, calls for care and love instead of jokes and humiliation for disadvantaged groups . The editorial also criticizes the original TV report’s mocking tone and the indifferent attitude of many.
On the video posted by Tudou on its micro-blog (see below), many netizens are condemning the website as “inhumane” and demanding apologies.
While sharing Laoben Shizi’s blog on the fire victim’s life, many Internet users are also quoting a sentence written by Da Xige on his broken mirror in his house,: “A new day has begun, come on!”
The original video report: