In honour of pride month, in this episode I briefly talk about what life is like for someone in the LGBTQ+ community in China. Lots of people automatically think it’s illegal to be part of the LGBTQ+ community in China. It’s not. There are LGBTQ+ friendly bars, clubs, dating apps, etc. Is life harder for a LGBTQ+ person? Yes, although to different degrees depending on each individual’s circumstance. 

Some popular LGBTQ+ terms / slangs (disclaimer: these are to name but a few. Chinese slangs are evolving at such a fast pace, these could become outdated very soon but they would still be understood) :

Gay (men liking other men)

男同 (nán tóng), gay, 基佬 (jī lǎo), 断袖 (duàn xiù), 断背 (duànbèi)

Lesbian (women liking other women)

女同 (nǚ tóng), 拉拉 (lā lā), les, 蕾丝 / 蕾丝边 (léisī / léisībiān), 百合 (bǎihé), 兔子 (tùzǐ), T = someone who’s more butch), P = someone who’s more feminine

Bisexual (an individual liking both men and women)

双 (shuāng),通吃 (tōng chī)

哈喽,大家好。我是Kaycee。

Hello, hi everyone. I’m Kaycee. 

我们这一期回到同志骄傲月。同志这个用法很有意思。很多人应该知道,同志原来是指同一党员的成员或国家公民之间的一种称呼,英语是很有共产主义味道的comrade. 以这个语境用这个词现在用的很少了,可能会听见爷爷奶奶那一辈的人用这个词,年轻人基本上不会用了。一个共产主义味道这么浓的词怎么变成与同性恋有关了呢?

This episode we are back to Pride Month. The way we use 同志(tóngzhì) is interesting.  Many people should already know that 同志(tóngzhì)  was used to refer to members of the same party, or used between national citizens. Its English equivalent is “comrade”, which has communist connotations. The word is rarely used now in this context.  We may hear our grandparents’ generation use this term, but young people basically don’t use it anymore. How did a word with such strong communist connotations become related to homosexuality?

据说,是从1989年,香港人林奕华筹划的首届同性恋电影节开始的。他把电影节命名为《香港同志电影节》。“同志”的用法来自于孙中山的名言 “革命尚未成功,同志仍须努力” 。我们在第18期有讲过孙中山,所以听过第18期的朋友们应该理解这段话的用意。林奕华只是把这个寓意放在了同性恋的语境中。

It is said it comes from 1989 when the Hong Konger Lin Yihua planned the first gay film festival. He named the film festival the “Hong Kong Gay & Lesbian Film Festival”. The usage of “comrade” comes from Sun Yat-sen’s famous remark, “The revolution has not yet succeeded, comrades still must work hard.” We talked about Sun Yat-sen in episode 18, so people who have listened to episode 18 should understand the meaning of this passage. Lin Yihua just put this meaning into the context of homosexuality.

近些年来,其实大家也很少用以LGBT 为语境的“同志”这个词了。在流行网语中,近几年出现了好多词来描述lesbian 或 gay。对,LGBTQA+ 的范围中,中国关注的重点目前还是比较偏向于L 和 G。Anyway,不知道是演变的速度太快了还是我已经到了一定年龄了反正很多新词我是没跟得上。我在这儿就不一一解释这些比较新颖的词了,这一期也不一定会用得上所有的词,但是我会把目前在中国常用的一些词放在网站上。大家有兴趣的话可以上我的网站上看一看。

In recent years, people rarely use the term “comrade” in the LGBT context. In popular online language, many words have appeared in recent years to describe “lesbian” or “gay”. Yes, in the scope of LGBTQA+, China’s focus is still more towards L(esbians) and G(ays). Anyway, I don’t know if it’s the speed of change or if it’s just my age, but I actually can’t keep up with so many new terms. I won’t explain all of the new terms here, I may not use all the words in this episode, but I will put some of the commonly used words in China on the website. If you are interested, you can check it out on my website.

Okay,回到正题。中国是怎么看待同志们呢。很多人印象中的中国是非常死板的,认为中国肯定不会认同同性恋。怎么说呢,对也不对。

Okay, let’s return to the main topic. How does China treat 同志(tóngzhì) / homosexuals? Many people have the impression that China is very inflexible and think China could not possibly recognise homosexuality. This is both right and wrong.

回到中国古代,历史记载中国最早的同性恋是在商朝(公元前16到11世纪)。中国历史典籍中的《史记》和《汉书》在公元前202年到公元8年这段时间所记载的西汉帝王都有同性恋人。在《汉书·佞幸传》里,汉哀帝与董贤共寝,董贤压住了皇帝的袖子,皇帝不忍惊醒他,断袖而起。后人于是就用“断袖之癖”来形容同性恋关系。中国的古典文学也包括少数同性恋爱情故事和诗歌。

Back in ancient China, the earliest historical record of homosexuality in China was during the Shang Dynasty (16th to 11th century BC). China’s ancient records the “Shiji” and the “Hanshu / The Book of Han”, recorded in the 202 BC to the AD 8 period, noted that some emperors of the Western Han Dynasty were gay. In “The Book of Han: The Legend of Nine Fortune”, Emperor Ai of the Han and Dong Xian would sleep together. Dong Xian slept on the emperor’s sleeve. The emperor couldn’t bear to wake him up so he ripped off his sleeve. Later generations would use “sleeve-ripping kink” to describe homosexual relationships. Chinese classical literature also includes a few gay love stories and poems.

以前,人们对同性恋的态度平静而淡漠,对同性恋没有太多的溢美之词,也没有很多的诋毁指责。

In the past, people had a calm and indifferent attitude towards homosexuality. There were not many flattering words about homosexuality, nor was there vilification.

在文化革命时期(1966-1976),同性恋遭遇了历史上最严重的挫折。当时的政府认为同性恋是一种精神疾病,并且会让整个社会蒙羞。此后,同性恋行为被认定犯了流氓罪或扰乱社会秩序,同性恋者不得不转入地下活动。

During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), homosexuality suffered the most serious setback in history. The government at the time believed that homosexuality was a mental illness and would humiliate society as a whole. From then on, it was determined that homosexual acts were “committing hooliganism” or “disrupting the social order”. Homosexual activities had to go underground.

1991年,对同性恋犯罪行为的认定被彻底取消。专门面向男同和女同的娱乐场所,比如酒吧等等,都随之建立。

In 1991, the recognition of homosexuality as a sin was completely abolished. Entertainment venues catering to gays and lesbians, such as bars, etc., were established.

现在,同性恋在很多大城市已经不再遮掩,有各种同性聚会场所和交友软件,但是他们仍然面临来自家人的压力,无论是对同性恋歧视还是想要他们结婚生子,传宗接代。中国社会是非常看重家庭的,非常尊重长辈们,总是家庭第一,幸福其次。所以,现在面对中国同性恋人口的压力主要是家庭,因为大多数父母都难以接受这种现实。

Now, in many big cities, homosexuality is no longer hidden. There are various same-sex meeting places and dating apps, but they still face pressure from their families, whether it is discrimination against homosexuality, or wanting them to marry and have children to pass on the family line. Chinese society highly values family, respects the elderly very much, and always puts family first and personal happiness second. Therefore, the current pressure on the gay population in China is mainly familial, because most parents find it difficult to accept this kind of reality.

因此,很多中国人不敢跟自己家人出柜,就会选择形婚这条路。形婚,全称形式婚姻,也就是协议假结婚,有的真的会登记,有的未必。在所面临的压力面前,他们选择这样悄悄的幸福。

Therefore, many Chinese people do not dare to come out to their family members and choose the “sham marriage” or xíng hūn route. A “sham marriage” / xíng hūn (the full phrase is 形式婚姻 (xíng shì hūn yīn)” is an agreement to fake a marriage. Some are actually registered, some are not. They choose a discreet happiness in the face of pressure.

我在网上看到一个关于形婚的帖子,一个女生写的,想读给大家听。我稍微整理了一下她原来写的帖子,毕竟在网上发表的,有很多网语和读起来不太顺溜的地方。再加一句,她说形婚的时候,有时候是指和她形婚的男生,大家听的时候要注意一下。原文链接我会放在下方描述箱里和网站上。

I saw a post about a sham marriage on the internet, written by a woman, and I would like to read it to everyone. I tidied up the post she originally wrote. As it was published on the internet, there is a great deal of online language and places that are not smooth to read aloud. One more thing, when she speaks about the sham marriage, she sometimes refers to the guy who married her. Everyone should pay attention when listening. I will put the link to the original text on my website and in the description box below.


我是07年认识形婚的,那时候是一个公司的同事,同事而已,没太多往来,后来机缘巧合知道了他是g,其实是他先看出我是拉的(我其实真的不明显,好么)然后我们就结婚了,至少同事那么多年知根知底,人品表象还不错,至少不会发生什么恶性欠债的情况。结婚第二年吧,我和我女朋友就分手了,和形婚这件事不能说完全没关系,当然其他原因占主要,伤心往事就不提了。

I came to know sham marriage in 2007. At that time, it was a colleague from work, nothing more than a colleague, we didn’t have much contact. Later, by chance, I learned that he was gay. In fact, he knew I was a lesbian when he first saw me (I really wasn’t obvious, okay?). Then we got married. Our colleagues had at least known everything for so many years. He seemed to have a great personality, so at least there wouldn’t be any unpaid loans. In the second year of my marriage, my girlfriend and I broke up. I can’t say that it wasn’t completely to do with the sham marriage. Of course, there are other reasons which are the main reason, but I won’t mention this sad past.

所以关于如何处理女朋友和形婚的关系想再多说两句,有人认为,你俩都结婚了,她就跟局外人一样,像个小三一样介入别人家庭,我想和这样的人讲真心不是如此好么,如果形婚真的和直婚一样有真感情,那众多父母们是不是都可以希望自己的同性恋孩子去形婚得了。我形婚对我女朋友还是态度相当好的,只不过我女朋友视他为敌人一样,我和我女朋友吵架是我形婚劝和的,所以这件事我还是很感谢形婚。

So I want to say a couple more words about how to deal with the relationship between a girlfriend and a sham marriage. Some people think that if you are both married, she is like an outsider who is intervening in another person’s family— like a mistress. I want to tell people that it’s really not like this.  If sham marriages really have the same real affection as straight marriages, then many parents would hope that their gay children would have a sham marriage. My husband had a good attitude towards my girlfriend, but my girlfriend still regarded him as an enemy, and when arguing with my girlfriend my husband would comfort me, so I am still very grateful for this sham marriage in this situation.

关于孩子,除了形婚生娃再有就是什么精子库,代孕之类的,但是我自诩没这个经济实力。对于我而言最担心的就是面对这样一个形婚家庭以后孩子的教育问题,我在生孩子之前就觉得,如果孩子以后知道妈妈是les爸爸是g,孩子会不会疯掉;但是有了孩子以后,我忽然觉得这个问题并没有想象中的那么可怕,不知道为什么这个小生命让我有了很多勇气。对于孩子关于认知同性恋这件事,我不想隐瞒他们的存在也不会引导孩子,孩子需要有自己的认知,首先告诉她同性恋并不是异类,他们和你看到的芸芸大众一样,只不过他们爱的是同性,你可以有自己选择性向的权利,他们也有。其次,我觉得孩子是否会性格孤僻另类是与父母的关爱有关的,这点我和我形婚十分一致,对孩子的爱和教育不会少。剩下的,就遇到问题再说了,办法总比困难多嘛~~

Regarding having children in a sham marriage, there are sperm banks, surrogacy, etc., but I can say that I don’t have this financial power. What worried me most was confronting the problem of educating children in a sham marriage family. Before giving birth, I wondered when the child knows that his/her mother is a lesbian and the father is gay, would the child go crazy? But after having a child, I suddenly felt that this problem was not as terrible as I imagined. I don’t know why this little life gave me so much courage. Regarding my child’s understanding of homosexuality, I don’t want to hide its existence nor guide her. A child needs to come to their own understanding. First, I told her that gay people are not a different species. They are the same as everyone else you see. They love the same sex, you have your own right to be selective, and so do they.  Next, I think whether a child will have an anti-social personality is related to the care of the parents. This point is very consistent with my marriage.  There will not be a lack of love and education for the child. As for the rest, let’s deal with problems as of when it occurs. There are always more solutions than challenges.

现在说一下生孩子这件事,我们是自己在家里操作的,为了不变成小黄楼,就简单归结成针管和倒立吧~~我很幸运,一次就成功,估计是排卵期算得好。其实整个怀孕和生产的过程是最孬心的,我没有孕吐,但是胃口不好一直持续到孩子8个月,就是见到什么都恶心,天天只能喝粥吃苹果,所有的产检是妈妈陪同要么自己去,也没有像闺蜜一样整个孕期开心的不得了,怀孕对我而言是一个孤单的、从未享受过的过程。我从来没有机会说一声,媳妇儿,我想吃苹果帮我削吧;媳妇儿,我腿疼给揉揉吧;媳妇儿,咱闺女出来了,老可爱了。。。

Now let’s talk about getting pregnant. We did ourselves it at home. To avoid turning this X-Rated, it simply came down to needles and handstands. I was very lucky. I succeeded after one try. I guess that the timing of the ovulation period was right. In fact, the whole pregnancy and childbirth process was the most sorrowful. I didn’t have morning sickness, but my poor appetite lasted until the child was eight months old. Seeing anything made me sick. I could only eat porridge and eat apples every day. My mother accompanied me for the check-ups, or I went by myself, and I was not happy during the whole pregnancy like my friends. For me pregnancy was a lonely process that I never enjoyed. I never had a chance to say, “Wifey, I want to eat an apple, help me cut it”, or “Wifey, my legs hurt, rub them”, or “Wifey, our girl is getting old and cute”.

再就是生产过程,疼是真特么疼,但是可以忍受,我忍受不了的是在那么多医生面前插大腿好么。。。指检好痛,那帮医生下手真狠,还叫我放松,疼都疼死了,放毛线啊。

Then there is childbirth. It was very painful, but tolerable. I couldn’t tolerate so many doctors poking my thighs in front of me. The finger examination was so painful, and the doctors were ruthless. They told me to relax, but the pain was so bad, how could I relax?

很多人都觉得生孩子是一件多么有勇气的事,说白了,经历了也就觉得那么回事,从你怀上宝宝的那一刻起,就没有退路了,只有一步一步往前走,兵来将挡,水来土掩吧。

Many people think that having a baby is such a courageous thing. Honestly, you will feel that after experiencing it. From the moment you become pregnant with a baby, there is no way out. You can only move forward step by step and adapt to different situations. 

不知道是不是年龄大了,对很多东西缺乏自信了,不知道是不是有人和当时的我一样,在考虑要不要孩子,开始怀疑现在和你恩恩爱爱的女人会不会分手,留下自己孤独终老;在考虑自己会不会在40岁开始疯狂的喜欢孩子,却没有什么机会再要孩子了; 不管怎么样,我从入圈子,谈恋爱,形婚,单身,到现在有孩子,虽然失去了很多,但是我很满足!

I don’t know if I’m getting older and lacking self-confidence in many area. I don’t know if there is someone like me at that time, considering whether or not to have a child, starting to consider whether to break up with the woman you currently love, leaving yourself to die alone. I am thinking about whether I will start to madly like children at the age of forty, but I have no chance to have children again. Anyway, I am in a cycle; dating, married, single, and now I have children. Although I have lost a lot, I am still satisfied!


我第一次读的时候挺同情这个女生的。我们想一想哈,如果在一个允许同性结婚的国家,形婚就代表着你不能与你自己心爱的人结婚。如果在一个不允许同性结婚的国家,形婚仅仅是一个让父母满意的画面而你为了这一幅画要辛辛苦苦的付出自己几年,甚至几十年的努力和精力。能想象得到,她在整个过程中一定很孤单,很辛苦。既然她很满足,我就放心了。这是她平衡了生活中的种种所做出的选择,我们就祝她幸福吧。

I really sympathised with this girl when I first read this. Let’s think about it, if you are in a country that permits same-sex marriage, a sham marriage means that you cannot marry the one you love. If you are in a country that does not allow same-sex marriage, a sham marriage is just an image that satisfies your parents and you have to work hard for this image for years, even decades of effort and energy.

我们下周见。

Wǒmen xià zhōu jiàn.

I really sympathised with this girl when I first read this. Let’s think about it, if you are in a country that permits same-sex marriage, a sham marriage means that you cannot marry the one you love. If you are in a country that does not allow same-sex marriage, a sham marriage is just an image that satisfies your parents and you have to work hard for this image for years, even decades of effort and energy. As you can imagine, she was very lonely and very sad during the whole process. Since she is now happy, I feel relieved. This is the choice she made to balance her life, and we wish her happiness.

See you next week.