Earlier this month, Liu Wangqiang and Lu Zhong, two men in their twenties, celebrated their marriage in the streets of Fuzhou with a few friends and over a thousand assorted well-wishers. That’s not to say that China is one big Pride Parade by any stretch.
There has been a considerable number of opposing views on China’s Twitter, Weibo and even the Fuzhou government strongly opposed this ceremony. Adding in the fact that this marriage isn’t legal, it all makes one wonder why anyone would be against these guys.
China and every other East Asian country lacks the Judeo-Christian foundation of Western countries, yet same-sex marriage is, strangely, officially frowned upon. It’s a mystery that’s always puzzled me since moving to Japan.
In China, homosexuality is taboo and same sex marriage is, traditionally, immoral. It’s different from the Sodom & Gomorrah tales of smite by the big guy in the sky the West has though. Without all the anecdotal evidence and bible thumping, it’s simply not done or discussed.
It’s especially interesting when looking at the issue pragmatically. In a country where population is such a problem that limits are placed on childbirth, a society that allows open homosexuality seems like a sensible solution. People are allowed their freedom and not forced into false marriages with unwanted children.
China’s not alone in this either. Even in Japan, gay marriage is simply “wrong.” I was always fascinated by this way of thinking and asked many people about why it wasn’t allowed in countries with pretty laissez faire attitudes towards religion.
Gay men are ever increasing on Japanese TV, but they are almost exclusively more-flaming-than-life caricatures in the vein of Amos & Andy for African Americans. Nearly every person I speak to says they don’t care if a person is gay or not, and many still say gay marriage wouldn’t bother them in the least.
Then, when asked if most people think this why isn’t there gay marriage I get “that’s just the way it is” kinds of answers.
Finally, after countless shrugged shoulders and “way it is” reasoning, I heard one poignant answer from a university professor acquaintance: There is no gay marriage because there isn’t a significant movement for it, and there isn’t a significant movement for it because there isn’t any blatant opposition to it.
In a weird way that answer made a lot of sense. Homophobia does exist in Asia to a large degree, but it’s so lukewarm that the counter culture is also relatively mellow. It’s not really their fault either, if the LGBT community came out screaming and making demands against “nothing” they might turn people off more.
This is of course, just one angle to a much deeper issue but perhaps people making boldly defiant statements like these two young men will help bring it all to the surface. Once people start examining the situation as it truly is, the changes will start to happen.
It’s like taking off a Band-Aid. You can shed light on the taboo slowly, bit by bit and save yourself some anguish or you can rip it open and get on with your life sooner. It looks like Liu and Lu took the more painful route and surely got some grief, but hopefully they can move into their future together sooner than before.
If anything their celebration illuminated the support the LGBT actually has with the common people in the People’s Republic.