As Taiwan moves closer to legalizing same-sex marriage, LGBT individuals are also finding a larger foothold in mainland China, though many aren’t yet ready to come out of the closet just yet.
A survey of 16,690 LGBT people in China (as well as 3,310 non-LGBT ones) released by the nonprofit network WorkForLGBT finds that only 22% of gay and bisexual men and 12% of gay and bisexual women do not plan to come out to their friends and family. That’s an improvement over last year when the percentages were 30% for men and 16% women.
Still, most remain undecided about coming out of the closet (55% of men and 49% of women) leaving only 23% of men and 39% of women saying that they are ready for people to know about their sexuality.
For the survey, WorkForLGBT, a group that fosters collaboration between lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender individuals, surveyed people from across urban and rural China in August and September in order to “better understand LGBT people in China today and better serve the future development of this community.”
Another goal of the survey was market research, the group was helped along by gay dating apps like Blued and provides data like the Chinese LGBT community’s favorite places to travel (Hong Kong, Thailand and Macao) and how much they are willing to pay to get married abroad. The survey also found that a majority of men and women — 54% of men and 65% of women, up from last year’s 40% and 44%, respectively — consider same-sex marriage as their ideal marriage option.
The survey estimates that there are between 70 million and 140 million LGBT people living in China. The most influential factor preventing people from coming out was family pressure (70%). In an interview with China Daily, one mother, who identified herself as “Mei,” expressed her view on the subject:
A decade ago, most parents who finally accepted the fact that their children are homosexual did so because they loved their children and didn’t want them to shoulder more stress… But now, more parents have begun to understand that it’s inherited and can’t be changed, although many are still bitter when their child reveals their sexual orientation to them.
“Hank,” a gay Shanghai resident who chose not to reveal his real name, also weighed in on the issue. “I believe that we’re still far from a situation where many LGBT people can come out publicly, which requires a change in the mainstream mindset and legal protection in the country,” he said.
On top of the fact that same-sex marriage is illegal in mainland China, promoting solidarity with LGBT people has had its challenges as well, from multiple cases of media censorship to Golden Bell Awards winner Lee Tien-chu’s anti-gay speech last month. Then again, Beijing’s campaign to promote gender-neutral bathrooms and Xi Jinping’s move to call government officials “comrades” could help the cause.
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By Abby Ordillas
[Images via Danlan]