More LGBT plan to re­veal sex­u­al­ity

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shanghai zhouwent­ing@chi­

A grow­ing num­ber of gay men and les­bians on the Chi­nese main­land plan to come out within five years, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey re­leased by WorkForLGBT, a non­profit busi­ness net­work that ad­vo­cates for les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der peo­ple.

Only 22 per­cent of gay men and 12 per­cent of les­bians don’t in­tend to re­veal their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion in the next five years, com­pared with 30 per­cent of gay men and 16 per­cent of les­bians last year, ac­cord­ing to the 2016 China LGBT Com­mu­nity Life and Con­sump­tion Sur­vey con­ducted by WorkForLGBT.

The sur­vey polled nearly 17,000 peo­ple from the LGBT com­mu­nity from cities and ru­ral re­gions on the Chi­nese main­land in Au­gust and Septem­ber.

Some peo­ple from the LGBT com­mu­nity said it is be­cause there is more in­for­ma­tion about the com­mu­nity avail­able nowa­days and gay mar­riage has be­come le­gal in sev­eral coun­tries in the past fewyears.

A mother, who left her home­town in Shan­dong province for Shanghai to dodge the point­ing fin­gers of friends and rel­a­tives when her teenage son said he was gay a decade ago, said the pub­lic now shows more tol­er­ance and re­spect for the LGBT com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially in big cities.

“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,” said the mother, who wanted to be iden­ti­fied by her sur­name Mei.

“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,” said Mei, who is now a vol­un­teer with PFLAG China, a Guangzhou-based non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to elim­i­nat­ing the stigma at­tached to sex­ual mi­nori­ties.

The tol­er­ance also de­rives from the ef­forts of such NGOs that have been ad­vo­cat­ing gay rights in re­cent years, Mei said. Ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity was re­garded as a men­tal dis­or­der in China un­til 2001.

“Most gays and les­bians don’t want to live be­hind a mask, es­pe­cially in front of their par­ents. They want their par­ents to love them for who they are, and want to share their hap­pi­ness with their par­ents. They want to tell them, ‘I’m in love with some­one’,” Mei said.

A Shanghai res­i­dent who is gay said that al­though more peo­ple from the LGBT com­mu­nity are com­ing out, most of them only re­veal their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion to their clos­est fam­ily mem­bers and friends.

“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,” said the 31-year-old, who wanted to be iden­ti­fied by Hank, his English name.

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