By Ekaterina Vasileva.
According to a new study by the University of Kansas, individuals who have had personal interactions with homosexual individuals have more positive attitudes towards homosexuality. The study examined attitudes and stereotypes about homosexuality in China based on media representations of LGBT-identified individuals.
In the study, 225 Chinese college students in Beijing, Shanghai and Guiyang were surveyed on their media consumption and also asked to agree or disagree with various statements about LGBT individuals. The researchers discovered that participants who were more exposed to state-controlled media had more negative stereotypes about LGBT people, but participants who knew homosexual individuals personally had more positive opinions of them.
Attitudes toward homosexuality have also shifted in the household: in the last ten years, more gay Chinese teenagers have been accepted by their parents, according to the Economist, in part thanks to the establishment of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) in China. However, intolerance still exists: 70% of gay Chinese men marry straight women to make their families happy and to continue the bloodline.
Legendary American equal rights campaigner Harvey Milk emphasized the importance of normalizing and demystifying homosexuality way back in 1978:
Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives… come out to your friends… if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors… to your fellow workers… to the people who work where you eat and shop… come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.