Spring is here and love is in the air as dozens of elderly parents flock to the park, desperate to find a suitable partner for their still unmarried sons and daughters. Parents carry with them signs listing all the important details of their marriageable children — their height, salary, age, education level, but notably not their sexuality.
On Saturday, to mark “5/20” (Lover’s Day in China), a group of mothers of LGBT children tried to break through this barrier by advertising their sons and daughters at Shanghai’s popular “marriage market” in People’s Park. Sixth Tone was on hand to witness the historic occasion, reportedly the first of its kind, organized by two LGBT rights group to raise awareness, which went down about how you’d expect.
The group was bombarded with questions from the curious (“How do they have sex?”) and protests from the intolerant (“LGBT issues shouldn’t be a public display. Their choice is wrong and is against Chinese values”) who called their children “abnormal.” With the scene growing more and more tense, finally, security showed up.
“If parents of straight people can be here, parents of gay people can also be here,” one mother from Shenzhen told the angry crowd. “We have every right to be here — I’m here to find a boyfriend for my son.”
However, her plea fell on deaf ears, security officers ordered the moms to leave the park, telling Sixth Tone that the group had failed to register their “advertising event” (the parents had been handing out educational flyers) — a common excuse used by authorities in China to disperse activist groups.
Watch video from the event below:
While attitudes towards homosexuality continue to improve in China, many in the older generation still hold on firmly to their prejudices, particularly those who long for their kids to carry on their family line. Meanwhile, most Chinese netizens have protested against the exclusion of the parents of the LGBT children, arguing that no matter what, a real marriage is better than a fake one, others have argued that gay children should also face the indignity of having their parents hunt for their partners.
However, discrimination against LGBT individuals isn’t confined to the marriage market. Last month, a photo went viral online showing a pair of Wuhan college students holding up a banner reading: “Defend traditional Chinese ethical principles, uphold socialist core values, resist corruption from decadent Western ideas, keep homosexuality far away from the university campus,” at the behest of their homophobic basketball coach.
[Images via Sixth Tone]
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