Xing Zhao: Gay people in China need to come out

Xing Zhao: Gay people in China need to come out

Talking about talking about legalizing same-sex marriage is a good first step, says a member of Shanghai’s LGBT community

Xing Zhao -- Tell me about it -- inline For the past 10 years, China's most well-known and outspoken sexologist Dr. Li Yinhe has persistently submitted a proposal to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to legalize same-sex marriage.

Every year a proposal, and every year it gets nowhere. That is, until this year.

At the CPPCC in March, Li struck political gold: her five reasons why China should legalize same-sex marriage were officially recognized. She argued that:

1. Gay people should have the same rights as straight people, including the right to get married (with someone of the same sex). 
2. Recognizing same-sex marriage would take China's human rights record a huge step ahead of the United States.
3. Letting gay and lesbian people marry would reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
4. With fewer breeders, China could better control its population problem. 
5. Same-sex marriage symbolizes social tolerance, diversity and harmony.

Acknowledging Li's submission marked a major step forward for the CPPCC -- although we're still a long way from a vote on legalizing same sex marriage,

The importance of same-sex marriage

If most of China's gay people are willing to fake their marriages, or sacrifice their happiness for the sake of the family's face, why would the government even bother to give them the right to marry?

I believe it's important for China to legalize same-sex marriage, but not for the reasons given by Dr. Li.

Many gay people in China have low self-acceptance of their sexual orientation due to the negative views of homosexuality in media and education. For years, homosexuality has been dubbed as “perversity,” so many gay boys and girls grow up with self-loathing.

Legalizing same-sex marriage will allow gay kids to have role models and help them understand that it's OK to be attracted to and to love someone of the same sex. It will tell them: you can be gay and be happy.

For many Chinese families today, having a gay son or daughter means unspeakable shame.

Even though my mother accepts the fact that I'm gay and is able to joke about it, she still never speaks with anyone about what "puts her in shame."

She also still holds out hopes that one day I will marry a woman.

“What about marriage?” she often asks. “It is just not right to end up with a man.”

If marrying people of the same sex was an option, stubborn parents might still shake their heads and say “I just don't understand the gay thing,” but at least it would no longer be some kind of shameful secret.

More on CNNGo: Lala land -- Shanghai's lesbian sub-culture

How far are we away from this reality?

I think China is still quite far from legally recognizing same-sex marriage.

Dr. Li's previous propositions were actually ignored rather than rejected; not ignoring a proposal -- although good -- is far from a move to accept it.

No one else's kids are gay, and even if they are, they won't let people know.— My mother

China is still a rather backward country where gay men can only refer to their boyfriends as “friends”; gay people choose to marry gays of the opposite sex (so gay men marry lesbians, for example) to meet societal standards; and parents threaten to commit suicide in order to pressure their gay sons into marrying women.

Chinese society is just not ready for same-sex marriage -- yet. My mother often says “nobody else's kids are gay, and even if they are, they won't let people know.”

I highly admire Dr. Li's persistence in bringing the topic to the table -- but even her determination may be no match for that of my mother and mothers like her around China.

The more people see something and talk about it, the more they will realize there is not such a big difference between “us” and “them;” however, it is not one person's job and effort to make changes in society.

If most of China's gay people are willing to fake their marriages, or sacrifice their happiness for the sake of the family face, why would the government even bother to give them the right to marry?

I think that to push the Chinese government to consider legalizing same-sex marriage all gay people should come out.

The opinions expressed above are solely those of the author and not endorsed in any way by CNNGo.

Now a writer and art communicator based in Shanghai, Xing has also been covering the Shanghai's LGBT issues for local publications since the summer of 2009.

Read more about Xing Zhao