LGBT in Modern Society

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Since ancient times, the public has been more or less confused and biased towards LGBTQ people in both China and the West. It is the second ten years of the 21st century. Since 2010, more and more LGBTQ people get into the mainstream explosively. LGBTQ is not strange and new to modern society today anymore. There are 28 countries and cities which have acknowledged the legality of homoseuxal marriage, such as Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, etc; 20 countries have changed the law over the last ten years.

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As more and more people come out from the closet to the world and stand up to fight for their rights, the society cannot ignore their voice anymore.

However, lots of places in the world still talk about LGBTQ people as illegal and unwelcome. In recent years, numerous voices and arguments of legitimate interest of LGBTQ people in the west are everywhere. Such arguments and discussion have been more in front of the public’s views after the United States and the United Kingdom passed the law of same sex marriage. Compared to the participants of LGBTQ topics for discussion in Western Countries, the same topics in China are just like a sleepy stillwater, it is hard to produce waves no matter how big the stone is. This kind of situation is not unreasonable because LGBT people have existed as a group of demons just 15 years ago.

China is an atheistic country, and it highly values Confucianism, which features “The Doctrine of the Mean, Xhong Yong. This doctrine cultivates a culture of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”(Joseph, Wu). But silence is not tolerance. In the early years of new China, homosexuality was seen as heresy. Although there was no specific law to inhibit sexual feelings and behaviour of homosexual people, there were “”crimes of hooliganism,”” an accusation made for same-sex sexual behaviors. People who have same-sex sexual behavior would be in prison or blacklisted. This situation has changed by the year of 1997, the accusation was deleted from the law, thus regarded as “”decriminalization of homosexuality”” in China.

Moreover, homosexual people were no longer diagnosed with a mental disease in 2001. In fact, the societal attitude of homosexual people has been changing since the beginning of the 1990, and also there were a lot of works of literature and theories analyzing topics focused on homosexuality. Li Yinhe and Wang Xiaobo published Their World: Perspectives on Chinese Gay Community, which presented findings about the living conditions of Chinese gay people in the year of 1992. It is also the first complete literature focused on homosexuals. The year 1990s would be the year of climax in discussion of homosexuality in China. Many people still consider homosexuality as a foreign concept, and in many textbooks, it is still defined as perverse or an impediment.

The word “LGBT” was first shown in the United States in 1988. In the year of 1990, people used the word “LGBT” as a neutral word to name the four groups with respect. Although the inside members of LGBT group argued for the acceptance of different groups, and people believe that “LGBT” is a ‘positive symbol of tolerance. In America, LGBT people are a minority group in the society. Many poele of educated class and Democratic Party of the United States hold a protective attitude. This protective attitude became political correctness to a certain extent in the society.

If anyone was against LGBT in America’s public, he/she would be thoroughly refuted in the social media. In the wealthiest and most open-mind San Francisco Bay Area, including Silicon Valley, many high-tech companies express publicly that support LGBTQ. Every month of June is the month of LGBT parades and the rainbow flag is everywhere in Castro Street. The slogan is “LOVE IS LOVE!” In the parade, lots of homosexual couples walk hand in hand, wear same color clothes and kiss on the street.

However, LGBT is not supported in every place in the United States. Four states are Anti-LGBT: Alabama, Kentucky, Texas and South Dakota. The four anti-LGBT states have similar ideas as Chinese policy. The traditional Chinese society format has been ingrained in everyone’s mind after thousands of years. Due to various and complicated societal beliefs, in China the reform movement to accept LGBT is not welcome.

These ideas are considered to be radical ways of foreigners. For example the rainbow movement was supported by lots of financial groups in the U.S. but not in China. Nonetheless, it is not to say that Chinese LGBT people should stop fighting for their rights, but looking for a more peaceful way. Although LGBT people are in the minority, it does not mean that this group is weak. Different equal groups do not need this kind of support. LGBT rights exists because of reasonable people. Those people who disrespect this group because of their wrong opinions spread the wrong information.

However, there is not much of a definition of LGBT in China. Fortunately, with frequent communication between China and other Western Countries, most people keep a tolerant attitude to LGBT people in the whole of Chineses society. Of course, it seems hard to make the Chinese government admit immediately that same-sex marriage, bisexual, transgender and so on are acceptable. Such places like developed regions and cities near to the ocean are usually more open and acceptable of LGBT culture. For example, Taiwan, China passed the law of same-sex marriage this month. Many people who live in cities inland do not accept homosexuality, especially older people.

This situation is similar to America that people who live coastal regions are more open-minded. However, the Chinese and American government have a completely different policy, so there are no similar methods to solve this kind of problem. Therefore, in China, LGBT people are not accpeted by the society. The pressure from the society pushes many LGBT people to marry for convenience.

According to the report by CGTV, “According to Public Attitude on Homosexuality, published by Li Yinhe, a professor at the Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and advocate for the rights of homosexuals, 70 percent of homosexual people in China would marry a heterosexual person under family stress, forming a peculiar phenomenon called a “”Marriage of Convenience.””(Kuhn, 2019) Certainly, Chinese nationality seems not likely to accept multiple values. From the Kongzi, Mengzi philosophy since ancient China, to the important Core Socialist Values today, collectivism is mainstream. Different from China, America advocate that Multiple values ??coexist harmoniously.

“Cultural values function as a fundamental concept for people to engage in social interaction and interpret their daily lives”. While Chinese culture has been evolving for centuries, respect for traditional cultural values has been a hallmark of that evolution. Hence, examining Chinese values relevant to homosexuality would provide some understanding of why the Chinese view homosexuality as they do.

The different family concept caused the differences of how they view LGBT people between China and the U.S. In China, the parents generations, still values some traditional thoughts about families, old people believe that if the wife makes money more than the husband or women work outside for a family, then the family will not be happy. They believe that the whole family should be controlled by males, and males have more responsibility to take care of the family.

In China, males usually have more pressure than females. For example, some traditional opinion of marriage asks males have a house or car before they get married, while females need a dowery to get married. In some blind date television show, lots of parents ask their daughter to find a husband that has his own house or high salary. At the same time, many man wants their future wife to be a housewife, only stay at home for the husband and children, and their money should be made by the husband only.

A complete family is extremely important in Chinese culture. There is a lot of news every year about domestic violence or unfaithful by husbands in a family, but the wife’s parents still want them to be together because divorce is shameful and the wife cannot live without her husband. This news always happens in rural areas where there is a lack of education.

The traditional family concept even makes some women also believe in this way. For example, the percent of males in China is much more than female; most orphans are girl. The progression stopped and there was no anti discrimination laws in place.The lack of progress makes many LGBTQ people confused about what their legal position is. “Same-sex marriage remains illegal and there is no recognition of same-sex couples. Marriage is officially defined as between a man and a woman and adopted children have to be adopted by heterosexual couples.”(Queer in the world).

The ingrained stereotypes make the government not believe homosexual couples have the ability to take care of the children better than heterosexual couples. In traditional Chinese culture that homosexual is an unacceptable thing. Compare to blessing a couple who really love each other and what to live happily forever. Or using the untruthful form of marriage to pass on family line. Lots of older generations can’t see this clearly. Older generations have a stereotype about it, they think it is wrong, disobey the ethics. From our generation, we believe it is a normal biological phenomenon.

Sex orientation depends on gene, it is innate. The biggest challenge for homosexuals is not about banning the activities government’s don’t do such things anymore. The biggest problem is the deep-rooted culture of oppression in China that over emphasizes family values that refers to the phenomenon as being family oriented but rest Western countries are more individual orientals, this means in China you should always prioritize your family value in Life, personal joy should also give me when there are conflicts in between. Yet in the Western family values is secondary to personal happiness.

American families value has more open mind on the same topic, but the progress was also hard. In America’s culture, the advocates of individualism are deeply embedded in everyone’s mind. Every parents want their children to be confident and independent. Most of them are willing to fight with judgement or restrict individual behavior for their freedom. However, in order to achieve the freedom, there were hard progresses lead to today’s rights. In the United states, when numerous of discussion about LGBT walk into public’s view, there were numerous of misunderstand and questions about them as same as current China. “Are they normal?” “Do they have mental illness?” “Why are they homosexuality?” “Would their lifestyle influence the society?” The United States also have many conservatism and regionalism people like other countries.

LGBT problems always been a controversial topic in the U.S., and also violence, especially school violence. According to a report by The First Nationwide Study about high school student sexuality, found that that “gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers were at far greater risk for depression, bullying and many types of violence than their straight peers”. A lot of teenagers thought they were different from others and nobody understand them makes them felt marginalization. Dr. Miller, who writes extensively about dating and sexual violence, this marginalization “increases their vulnerability to exploitative and violent relationships.” Due to the inborn differences, they have to bearing violence or judgement from others, that is unfair and terrible.

From the days abode in the United States, media has remained an integral part of human civilization. Media also played a important role in promote same-sex marriage legality. As the development of internet, the society has influenced by media in so many ways today. People get messages from the media, and have personal opinions and make judgements of societal issues. In the past ten years, there were more and more content about LGBT issues shown on the media, such as television, movies and social media websites. Most people will not know the LGBT group without showing in the mainstream media, and now the public gradually willing to know more things about this group by media. Such American television like Modern Family and Sense, they are include homosexuality plot. Especially in the Modern Family, it is clearly shown same-sex marriage family can also live in the same way as hetersexual family.

However, the government forbids homosexual content in media. The homosexual plots are not allowed in some mainstream film and television works in recent two years. In the month of April 2019, a most popular social media website in China, Weibo, censored a popular hashtag and super topic related to LGBT issues, #LES#. Any discussion and posts within this hashtag were deleted by the Weibo overnight. After the night, many people stand out and fight for it, they post opinions or images with the backlash and rainbow flags, it was attracted millions of views and posts. In fact, it is not the first time happened. “In many ways, it was a repeat of what happened last year, when Weibo launched a campaign to “”clean up”” the platform, including the removal of all gay-themed cartoons and videos — along with pornographic and violent material — to comply with Chinese laws and regulations”(James, 2019).

In 2015, Chinese censor removed a popular gay web series from all its channels. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagrams are all blocked in China. But people try different ways to break through the walls and access information from the outside. Though the government is imposing strict control, more and more LGBT activities are daring to stand out and challenge the system. There are over 100 LGBT organizations in China. Although it is difficult for them to get official registration as LGBT non-profits, volunteers and activists have never given up. China’s LGBT movement is happening, and they need to let the world hear the voices of the 70 million people.

It is the media, where people get information about what is happening right now around them and the world that everyone’s different perspectives. In Chinese social media Weibo, The government is removing any online content that they consider as “sensitive”. Since people are still afraid to come out in public space, they mainly use dating apps to meet other queer women. There are three main dating apps: RELA, LESDO and LES PARK. RELA has over 5 million users, but due to government censorship, the app was shut down in May 2017, because it supported a group of mothers of LGBT kids to participate in a marriage market in Shanghai. The mothers of these LGBT kids were later kicked out of the park. And then the app was blocked for a month. There are so many internal conflicts, but there is hope. Their community is having more and more visibility. For example, Jackie Chan’s daughter came out in October 2017 with lots of supports voices.

Despite the world became a more diverse and tolerance view of homosexuality, China seems still unwilling to embrace gay rights. From a macro perspective, before the year 2017, Chinese government has never systematically, oppressed the LGBT community. In China’s legislative process, one of the key factor is how many people will this policy effect. But Chinese government always think LGBT people represent less than 1% of the entire population. So it is hard to imagine they would think about law such as same-sex marriage.

From a macro perspective, we indeed need more people to come out. The entire Chinese culture doesn’t teach people to live for themselves, it is not just an LGBT issue. Everybody has been taught to live for their families and so forth. It needs slow but constant efforts of a lot of people. There was a conclusion that the development in China in the past 10 years, almost equals the forty-years development in the U.S. The first step is to nurture a culture of coming-out. The current situation in China is that if someone comes out, half of the people oppose in comments, and some people think it is so selfish. Such phenomenon have to be reverse. To must make people realize that someone’s coming out is paving the road for all of LGBT people. It is conduct worth admiration and respect.

In the past, homosexuals have been afraid to speak out. Nowadays, some of them dare to express their attitude. There will be more people accept homosexual groups. And more people dare to admit their sex orientation publicly. Chinese law will be more complete, and pro same-sex marriage. I truly believe it will happen.

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LGBT in Modern Society. (2019, May 09). Retrieved from