PinkPower is empowering LGBT Chinese with business and storytelling

PinkPower is designed as a bridge between business owners — those who want to reach the LGBT Chinese market but may not have found a way to do it (and others who may not be aware of this market) — and the LGBT community. Meanwhile, it is empowering LGBT Chinese with business and storytelling.

York, a famous Chinese gay star living in New York, at the Gay Pride parade in 2015.

Why do I care about LGBT Chinese?

Like most Chinese, I didn’t know before I went to college that human beings had different sexual orientations. I had heard some rumors about gay people in high school. People talked about them as if they were ill, nasty and bad. When I went to college, I met some gay men and lesbians in class. At first I didn’t know they were sexual minorities; we made friends and hung out a lot. In our junior or even senior year of college, they finally came out. I was a little surprised, but I was sure of one thing: they are not ill, not nasty, not bad at all. They are caring, creative, open and responsible. They are not always miserable, as others imagine; they’re happy and sweet and enjoy relationships whether long-term or short-term, the same as straight people. Then I thought: why do people see LGBTs as monsters?

When I was studying for a master’s degree in gender studies, I started to know more LGBT people and to hear more about their struggles in daily life. Gay Chinese around my age always struggle to come out to their parents. In any Chinese family, coming out could be a disaster because the child cannot go into a straight marriage and give birth to biological grandchildren.

It matters a lot to most Chinese families because a gay child could be the only child in the family due to China’s one-child policy. So it could take years or decades to rebuild family relations. When gay people come out in some conservative workplaces, especially public service and state-owned corporations, they can expect to struggle with discrimination. As a result, most choose to spend their whole lives in the closet to make things easier. They self-censor every minute.

However, things have gradually changed. Even in China, LGBTs are more visible than they were 10 years ago. NGOs, LGBT activists and celebrities like Jin Xing, (a famous transgender dancer and TV host in China) and Leslie Cheung (the most popular bisexual singer and actor in Hong Kong) have changed LGBT images in society and made their voices heard. Sexual minorities are more acceptable to younger generations.

Seven gay couples received funding from Alibaba to get married in Los Angeles in 2015.

Why do I want to build PinkPower?

In 2015 I realized I had an interest in the Pink Economy, which focuses on the LGBT community. After same-sex marriage became legal nationwide in the United States that year, my LGBT friends were so excited, even though they lived in China. Some planned to visit the U.S. to celebrate. Seven gay couples received funding from Alibaba, the biggest e-commerce group in China, to get married in Los Angeles that year.

I saw the great spending power of middle-class gay people. What they want and deserve is not only an enjoyable life, but also respect and dignity. Meanwhile, large-scale enterprises like Alibaba, Facebook and Google need to show the public LGBT-friendly images. Smaller businesses like travel agencies realized the same, so they soon launched products including Pride Parade trips overseas and wedding trips in the U.S.

Considering how hard it could be for NGOs to work for LGBTs in China, I believe that business is still the easiest way to make progress. Besides, China has the world’s third-largest LGBT market after Europe and the U.S. According to research, the Pink Economy in China is currently valued at $300 billion per annum. So PinkPower is designed as a bridge between business owners — those who want to reach the LGBT market but may not have found a way to do it (and others who may not be aware of this market) — and the LGBT community. Meanwhile, it is empowering Chinese LGBT with business and storytelling on Weibo, WeChat (ID: PinkPowerChina), Twitter and Facebook.

I have been covering politics for three years, and to be honest, it’s not my favorite field. I worked hard to demonstrate my abilities and to keep my boss satisfied so that I could have more bargaining power when pitching to the newsroom, since gender issues are still seen as minor and less important.

I finally have a chance to study at the CUNY J-school and work on my own new medium. If it’s not PinkPower, what is it?

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