Special tours and travel in China for gay people and LGBT
Tours for gays
For Hiddenchina.net it is important to offer our homosexual clients an understanding of the circumstances and culture in China. With offering both in Shanghai and Beijing, which are mostly the start point of a tour through China, local gay experts and group tours and travel to get an introduction to the venues, places and also find out more about the “do’s and don’ts” we want to offer our GLBT clients a great start for a hassle free and most enjoyable tour to China.
Joining one of our tours (whether privately or in a group) we want to contribute to the understanding of culture and society. We also offer you a great first introduction to the venues, so if you join one of our tours on the beginning of your city visit, no matter if you are staying just a few days, come for a business trip or even settle down in one of the cities, you will get an excellent guidance into the scene, its venues and personalities and you will have the chance to meet right from the beginning lots of people to further deepen your knowledge and private network of friends in China.
What we don't do is organize match making or sexual services.
In both cities Beijing and Shanghai, our gay guides are first of all long time residents of the city and come from outstanding background and hence will be able not only give you a great introduction, but also teach you some terminology, show you the hot places and give you guidelines for “do’s and don’ts”, which will be very helpful to have a most enjoyable and hassle free journey in China.
Please don't hesitate to contact us for further information.
A little bit of Gay history of China
Homosexual relationships in China have a long history and tradition. While it was never out of discussion that a man needed to get married and have offspring, it was in the old times quite common to have same gender lovers, especially among the male. Also among the emperors and high officials of the various dynasties, it was apparently quite common to have male lovers. According to various sources, especially in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE–9 CE), it seems most emperors (around 10 of them) had homosexual relationships.
China’s most famous historical gay person is probably emperor Han Aidi (27 BC – 1 BC) who had a love affair with the official Dong Xian (23 BC – 1 BC). In China, a common term for homosexuality is duanxiu zhi pi (斷袖之癖) or duan xiu (断袖) which means “to cut the sleeve”. This comes from a famous story, whereas Han Aidi shared the bed with Dong Xian (to share a bed among men was in China common and itself no sign of homosexuality) for a nap. When Han Aidi had to get up to join a meeting and Dong Xian was still asleep with his head on the emperors sleeve, Han Aidi decided to rather cut off his sleeve than waking up Dong Xian, hence the expression duan xiu.
The probably earliest documentation of homosexuality in China dates with ”The Intrigues of the Warring States”, a collection of political advice and stories from before the Han Dynasty, back to the reign of Duke Xian of Jin (who reigned from 676 – 651 BCE). According to historian Han Fei, the Duke Ling of Wei and Mizi Zixia had a homosexual relationship and it was then when the term “Yútáo” (the leftover peach) or the “fentao” (the bitten peach) 分桃 was created and another reference of homosexuality points to Lord Yong Yang and the King of Wei.
From the religious point of view, in Taoism and Confucianism, homosexuality is not excluded, however, the priority lies always in reproduction. So simply said, as long as a gay person is married and has children, having a homosexual affair is okay. Especially in Confucianism, reproduction of especially male heirs is one of the most important duties. When homosexuality interferes with this concept, it contradicts to one of the most important rules of Confucianism, but as long as it doesn’t interfere with reproduction, it’s okay. The Taoism has as a main principle the balance between Yin and Yang. In this respect, a homosexual relationship would be either Yin-Yin (female) or Yang-Yang (male) and considered as imbalanced or even destructive. However, the more liberal Taoists consider that every male (Yang) has also some Yin (feminity) and the “amount” of Yin varies from person to person. Hence in this respect, homosexuality can be something natural that comes with this theory. Another theory is that in fact some deities from the same gender live together with Shanshen (山神, mountain spirit) and Tudigong (土地公, "keeper of earth" as the most common example, since Tudigong is always male and Shanshen quite often male.
In literature it’s difficult to find clear hints of homosexuality, since there is no difference between the male or female pronoun and also in the grammar there is no gender specific terminology. However, there are classics such as the “Dream of the red chamber” where male characters have same gender as well as opposite gender sex and in stories and poems through all Dynasties, hints of homosexuality are present.
With the modern times things changed. Although it was not clear what was the official status for gay people under the rules of Mao Zedong, or whether people were persecuted by the government due to their sexual orientation, Homosexuality was until 2001 considered as a disease although in 1997 homosexuality (which was considered “Hooliganism” and illegal) was decriminalized.
It was “already” in the mid 80-ies when sexologists started to research homosexuality and starting with Hongkong, gay activists started to advocate their rights. In the late 90-ies and early 2000 the GLBT scene started to slowly bloom in the main cities Hongkong, Shanghai and Beijing. The government seems to follow a “3 no” policy: no approval, no disapproval, and no promotion, but in reality it’s still difficult for the scene to drive forward, since gay issues are not widely reported by the state media and also movies like “Brokeback Mountain” (despite directed by Ang Lee) prohibited because the movie was “inappropriate”. There are GLBT organizations in the main cities but it’s still difficult for them to organize events such as Mr. Gay elections. In 2009 for the first time the “Shanghai Pride” was held an since the organizers were well advocated, it was in fact more of a cultural festival with different events and no parade (which is only the privilege of the government to be held).
Another issue for gay and lesbian people is the social acceptance. In line with the Confucian concept of reproduction, the pressure from the family is huge to give the family ideally a male heir, especially with the one child policy. However, in recent years especially the well educated people more and more start to be in favor of a female heir, since they are on one hand more focused on their career, less distracted and definitely more loyal to support the parents. But this does not change the fact that it’s incredibly hard for gays and lesbians to come out. The coming out by the way is in Chinese called “come out of the closet” (出櫃) chu gui. Since the pressure to get married and reproduce an heir is tremendous in China, people still lacking around 2 decades of GLBT acceptance like in the Western countries and the parents fear of losing face in the family, with the neighbors, friends and the community, the coming-out is a huge burden not only for a young person, for people of any age.
In the progressive cities however, acceptance for homosexuality is continuously growing and more and more gay bars and venues, festivals and educational centers are popping up.
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