June 17, 2007
Written by C.N.
China has generally not been known to be a socially-progressive society. Democracy? Uhhh, no. Religious tolerance? Still working on it. Uncensored Internet? Check back later. Tolerance for gays and lesbians? Actually, as Reuters reports, China’s first show explicitly focusing on gays and lesbians is all set to go, albeit on the Internet rather than television:
“Tongxing Xinglian” [is] China’s first gay chat show, an interactive online forum hosted by gay presenters and accessible to more than 130 million Internet users across the country. With the title a loose play on words of a Chinese idiom “people with the same afflictions sympathize with each other,” the weekly 12-episode show, produced by PhoenixTV.com, aims to open minds in a country where homosexuality was listed as a mental illness until 2001.
“Of course, not everyone will be able to accept this show,” producer Gang Gang, told Reuters after the Web cast. “But 90 percent of people think we’re doing meaningful work here,” Gang said, who also appeared on the show. . . . Since Mao Zedong rule, when homosexuals were persecuted and imprisoned, China has slowly become more accepting, opening support hotlines for gays and lesbians, and offering free tests for sexually transmitted diseases in recent years. . . .
“Of course, discrimination remains … The kind of pressure on gay people in China is different to the pressure in Western countries,” Gang said. . . . “Of course, it will not change some people’s attitudes toward homosexuality, but we hope that it might teach them not to take issue with their family members’ choices.”
Hopefully this will be another step along the way toward greater acceptance and tolerance for gays and lesbians in China. Who knows, maybe China is slowly on its way toward becoming more socially progressive on those other issues as well. We can always hope.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "First Gay Internet Show in China" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/06/first-gay-internet-show-in-china/> ().
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