The Nanfang / Blog

Christian LGBT community in the Mainland finds hope at Hong Kong event

Posted: 06/21/2013 1:00 pm

Christianity and same-sex relationships don’t often go hand-in-hand, but they did recently at a large-scale event in Hong Kong.

Queer Christians from across Asia gathered in the SAR on June 7 for an event called Amplify 2013, which aims to be a welcoming oasis for members of the LGBT community to nurture their spirituality. The event debuted in 2008 in Singapore and has been gaining momentum since.  The one in Hong Kong drew 300 attendees, some of whom made the journey from the Mainland.

Felix from Guangzhou and John from Shenzhen took some time to chat with The Nanfang about the conference.

This was Felix’s second year at Amplify. A born again Christian, Felix says Amplify has helped him learn about Christianity, having grown up in an atheist household.

John, by contrast, was attending for the first time. He is a practising Catholic who has yet to come out. His family still expects him to get married.

Amplify allows participants, like Felix and John, to worship in an environment where their sexuality is no longer an issue. In many mainstream churches, being open about one’s sexuality could mean excommunication, therapy sessions to ‘fix’ the problem or being labeled an outcast and a sinner.

But that’s only part of the challenge. Freedom of religion in China remains a thorny issue despite it being in the constitution. The government maintains control over where people can gather to worship. In Guangzhou, for example, worshippers must present their passport before being allowed to enter a church.

There is no political agenda behind Amplify, Rev. Paul W. Lucas of Blessed Ministry Christian Fellowship Church (BMCF) told The Nanfang in a Skype interview last month. BMCF is responsible for organizing and hosting the event.

Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, courtesy of The Huffington Post

Amplify has clearly inspired a lot of people. Rev. Dr. Patrick S. Cheng is the first openly gay Asian-American to be ordained as a minister in the United States. At Amplify, he led workshops in which he addressed the issue of whether it is possible to be both queer and Christian. “(These are) broken pieces that need to be put together, ” Rev. Cheng said in an interview.

This is not the only event in the region being held for LGBT people this month. June is Pride month and in Guangzhou, a monthly event called ‘Kiwi Night’ was launched to help lesbians meet each other.


Foreigners in Guangzhou launch event to help lesbians meet

Posted: 05/15/2013 11:00 am

Where in Guangzhou can girls who like girls meet other girls?

Last month a lesbian couple made headlines for walking down a street in Guangzhou wearing wedding dresses. In January, Shenzhen hosted the first public wedding between two women in mainland China.

Despite some progress, for lesbians, the situation on the ground remains difficult. This was hinted at when a lesbian couple was turned away from a registry office in the city in February.

Some expats might have come up with a solution.

Last month, 32-year-old English teacher Lisa and her friend Jamie were struck by the lack of venues at which lesbians can hang out. This particular discussion led to the conception of an event for lesbians which will be held at the Kiwi Lounge this coming Saturday, May 18. It will provide an opportunity for women to meet other women in a safe and fun environment.

In Guangzhou, homosexual-friendly bars are mostly geared to men. 24 year-old Huizhou native Rachel thinks the misogyny of wider society has had a rippling effect on the LGBT community.

Rachel is a lesbian and has only come out to her closest friends and brother. Her parents are still unaware.

Rachel realized as early as elementary school that she liked girls. Being in a small town, no information about homosexuality was available to her. Rachel encountered a lot of name-calling and bullying while growing up. Even her own father made fun of her. But this didn’t stop her from having her first relationship with a girl in high school.

In China, some closeted gays and lesbians pursue heterosexual relationships, and even get married. Shenzhen Daily did a feature on the subject in 2011. Some of these married homosexuals have affairs with members of their own sex. Rachel thinks this is even worse.

Lisa is a proud lesbian. But living in China, “people aren’t as understanding about the queer lifestyle.”

Lisa grew up in Toronto, Canada, a city that is known for supporting its LGBT community. But even in Toronto, bars frequented by lesbians tend not to last because, according to Lisa, lesbians do not go out as much as gay men.

Rachel’s journey into accepting herself has been a long one. Her involvement with a lesbian group called “广州女友组” or “Girlfriends Group” has helped her gain the strength that she needs.  Rachel’s girlfriend is the President of the group and they’ve been living together for more than a year. She hopes that one day their mutual love will be recognized by society.

Rachel’s parents are kind, but remain conservative. Her parents believe that “a girl should marry a boy”; something they point out to Rachel whenever they have a chance. Their attitude has created tension in their family, and as a result, Rachel has yet to come out to her parents. For now, Rachel says she prefers to be scolded by her parents because she respects them.

The Kiwi Lounge event commences this Saturday (May 18) and the organizers hope to make it a monthly event. Entrance is free. Lisa says the event doesn’t need to be flashy. “We just need a venue to which people can go and mingle with kindred spirits,” she says.

A poster for the event


Lesbian couple in Guangzhou wear wedding dresses in public to declare their love

Posted: 04/19/2013 7:00 am

A lesbian couple walked down Guangzhou’s Beijing Road on Wednesday wearing wedding dresses and bearing a sign asking onlookers to wish them happiness, Yangcheng Evening News reports. The couple, Xiao Yang and Xiaoxiao were defiant in the face of criticism from some members of the public.

The couple ask members of the public to wish them happiness

The couple emerged at around 11 a.m. when Beijing Road is at its busiest. They started caressing each other’s hair and smooching. Having drawn much attention, Xiao Yang stated loudly: “As of today, this woman is my wife and I am her wife. We are in love, so wish us luck as you would any couple.”

The couple were criticized to their faces by some straight couples and older people but they were defiant, saying: “Wouldn’t you let a woman love another woman?”

Other members of the public applauded and cheered.

When interviewed by the paper, Xiao Yang cited as her hero Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Iceland’s lesbian prime minister who was recently in Beijing. Xiao Yang said the couple’s goal was to inspire other gay people and win respect from the general public.

Gay marriage is not legally recognized in China but this does not stop some couples from holding wedding ceremonies.


Lesbian couple in Guangzhou turned away at marriage registry, holds ceremony anyway

Posted: 02/28/2013 9:20 am

You know same-sex marriage is becoming more mainstream when even Republicans are supporting it, but it still might be a while before it’s legally recognized in China.

A lesbian couple in Guangzhou decided to test the system themselves on Tuesday (February 26) when Jiu Jiu and A Ya appeared at the Civil Affairs Bureau in Haizhu District.

The receptionist gave them a marriage registration form and asked them to fill it out. One side was for the groom, the other for the bride. Once the clerk realized there were two women in front of her, she pulled the form away and said, “Only one man and one woman can get married, based on the marriage law.” Jiu Jiu and A Ya left in disappointment, but decided to hold a ceremony anyway, only a few weeks after another same-sex wedding ceremony in Shenzhen.

There is an extremely small – but growing – number of people in China who are pushing for marriage equality. A Qiang, the executive of a homosexual friends and relatives group, wrote a 600-word letter on behalf of the group to deputies of China’s National People’s Congress on February 25 calling for equal rights. The purpose was to raise awareness of the issue and show why allowing same-sex marriage is good for society.

A Qiang argued some same-sex couples in China have been together for 10 years or more, look after each other and love each other, but lack marriage benefits.  He said issues like healthcare, property inheritance, housing, and more is all affected by denying same-sex marriage. He said the answer is full legalization.

This is the second case of a same-sex marriage being thwarted just this week.  Another group tried to do the same in Beijing on Monday, but were turned away.



Shenzhen hosts China’s first public wedding between two women

Posted: 01/7/2013 7:00 am

The couple pour champagne together

January 4, 2013 was an auspicious day on which to get married in China, according to the China Daily. The date sounds similar to “love you forever” in Chinese.

Among the couples who got married were a 36-year-old woman named Dongdong and 30-year-old woman named Qiqi (both names are aliases), a lesbian couple in Shenzhen, China Daily reports (via the Southern Metropolis Daily).  By taking vows, the couple became the first lesbian couple to hold a public wedding in Mainland China.

Although homosexual marriages cannot be legally certified in Mainland China, both couples received parental approval after initially encountering opposition: “Whether my child marries a man or a woman, she is still my daughter and I can think that the marriage brings me another daughter, which is also a source of happiness,” said Dongdong’s mother.

Taiwan is closer than Mainland China to legalizing gay marriage, as Shanghaiist reported last week. In October, tens of thousands of Taiwanese took to the streets of Taipei for the city’s 10th annual gay pride parade.

It seems one of them wore a suit on her wedding day.

Last month, Gay Star News reported that Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice would commission studies into attitudes towards same-sex marriage in Asian cultures as part of research looking into legalizing gay marriage.

In 2011, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan warned that legalizing gay marriage would turn New Yorkers Asian. If you feel like a laugh, you can check out his reasoning, or lack thereof, here.

Keep in Touch

What's happening this week in Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou? Sign up to be notified when we launch the This Week @ Nanfang newsletter.

sign up for our newsletter

Nanfang TV