A long way for Chinese LGBT youngsters to go back home from Australia

“Will you go back to China this Chinese spring festival?” I asked with higher voice in a noisy Korean restaurant.

“Hmmm…yes and no” Zaky, a Chinese 25 year old gay from University of Melbourne, said with a little frowned. He explained, “I’ll come back, but before the spring festival”

At this time, this guy, wearing a retro floral shirt, skinny jeans and Martins boots, with half of his face covered by curly hair, was lounging in the booth in front of me, kept rubbing the hand cream into his hand, front and back.

“Why?” I was a little surprised, thinking of the importance of spring festival for Chinese people, but was marvel at his elegance at the same time.

“I hate spring festival, I hate lots of relatives coming my home and judging my wearing, my life, it’s none of their business. All right, they are just some old people waiting for death” he shrugged his shoulder to perform relaxing, but I still heard a tremor in his voice.

When we talked about his German partner, his eyes lit up and kept talking about the funny things in their cohabitation life, even some details during the sexual activities.

After that, I had never contacted him in the whole summer holiday until the beginning of this semester when I heard of that his mom decided to renounce him. I sent him a caring message on WeChat, and then I received his voice message which only spoke one sentence,

“I will never go back…”

Zaky is not an isolated case among Chinese LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Australia. More and more Chinese LGBT youngsters choose to go out of closet in Australia. Annie, a Chinese international student shared her experience to me: “I don’t know why, when I had bachelor subject in China, I didn’t have one LGBT friends for four years, but I have been here just for half a year, now I have three Chinese LGBT friends, two of them are couples, and another boy is dating a Italian man.”

Yi Han, a 24 years old Chinese bisexual girl from University of Melbourne, said they have a community on Wechat consisting of more than 50 Chinese LGBT youngsters in Melbourne. They organize activities sometimes. But when talking about future, the 24 years old told me, “no texts in the group chat but stickers. It’s struggling to think about future, we can’t go back…”

So is this the Chinese LGBT youngsters’ future? After talks with several LGBT youngsters in the community, maybe it is the motherland that blocks their way of going back home.

My dad will break my leg

The first obstacle for these LGBT people is their parents’ opposition. In Chinese traditional culture, having a baby is a male/female’s responsibility. One of China’s most influential ancient thinkers, Mencius, emphasized “of all the ways a son can be disrespectful to his parents, the worst is to have no offspring.” Same-sex marriage is obviously against the Chinese faith. Yu Zheng, a Chinese butch lesbian taking a bachelor course in University of Melbourne, was planning to tell her parents about her relationship with her girlfriend, she made a joke:

“Now I just wonder whether my dad will break my one leg or both.”

So she thought it is better to disappear than upsetting her parents.

Eww! A loser and a gay

The other force stopping their step back to China is the repulsion of Chinese society to homosexuals. Although China has abolished the crime of “hooliganism” in 1997, and the Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of psychiatric disorders in 2001, a large number of Chinese still take homosexual as a “freak”.

According to a research about the acceptance of homosexual in 31 countries, compared with Australia, Chinese acceptance ratio is 58% less than Australia.

Acceptance of Homosexual Research

They suffer from stress in almost all aspects in life.

Zaky said, “I have considered going back, if I want to be respected, I have to make much more effort to have a high social status, otherwise people will say, ‘Eww, a loser and a gay’.”

This is the reality. More than half of LGBT people have experienced verbal insult in workplace because of their sexual identity, and 77 percent had experienced at least one form of bullying. Therefore, half LGBT people chose to remain completely secretive about their sexual orientation in the workplace.

No policy to protect their right, let alone get married legally. For maintaining the stability of Chinese society, Chinese government adopt “three no” attitude towards LGBT community. As the Executive Director of the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute, Xiaogang Wei explained, they are “no support, no against and no advice”. China’s court just said no to the first gay marriage case in Changsha city.

Sun Wenlin and his boyfriend, Hu Mingliang at the gate of court

Although in Australia, the same-sex marriage is still illegal, many related Bills are being discussed by the parliament.

Yu said, “In China maybe same-sex marriage is not legal until I die, in Australia, I can see the light of hope at least.”

I want to show my love

Homosexual is still a taboo in Chinese media. No matter the movie “Lan Yu”, released fifteen year ago or the TV series “Addicted” released last year, they are all banned by the China State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television without exception.

The poster of movie “Lan Yu”

The media takes the same attitude with the government towards LGBT, “leave it alone”. But for Chinese LGBT, “leave it alone” means “please hide”.

“I love my girlfriend and I want to show my love, but I kept silent on WeChat, instead, share my happiness to strangers on Twitter.” Yi told me with a little sorrow.

Australia is a better choice for them to show love, even in 2016 Sydney Mardi Gras parade, one of the biggest LGBT festival in the world, Chinese LGBT community have one float with a banner saying “70 million LGBT’s Chinese dream”. This is called as ‘a historic moment’ for Chinese LGBT community.

Stay in Australia

“So how do you think about future?” I asked them.

“Stay, maybe” Yu Said, “I have left my closet in China, going back to China means going back to closet.”

“Yes, yes, I think we can’t come back, after kissing my partner on street, how could I hide myself and marry a man?” Yi Han took over the words.

Most of them are studying a major that could give them a permanent resident identity. So they are studying harder than other students so as to get a good score and get an opportunity to stay in Australia.

“What about you?” I asked Zaky, who is studying master of International Relation in University of Melbourne.

“I’m not sure, but I can find a local boyfriend.” he smiled cunningly.