Though recent years have reportedly brought China's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community a bit more out of the shadows of old, a new report claims that as many as 16 million Chinese women are married to gay men.
One of the nation's authorities on HIV/AIDS, Qingdao University's Zhang Bei-chuan told China Daily that about 90 percent of the nation's gay men get married to heterosexual women in an effort to conform with social norms. As Pink News pointed out, that's roughly three percent of the nation's entire population. "But their wives are struggling to cope and their plight should be recognized," he is quoted by the publication, which is the country's largest English-language newspaper, as saying.
Still, the professor's claims seemed to divide local gay residents. "Zhang's estimation is unsubstantiated and I even feel it's pointless to research the issue," Xiao Dong, a 36-year-old gay man, told the publication. "To put gays' wives under the spotlight might cause more public misunderstanding or even hatred toward the gay population, which does not help defuse existing social discrimination against them."
Yet one 27-year-old gay graduate student begged to differ, saying he would never come out of the closet to his parents. "I may marry a lesbian and we can keep going with our own lifestyle more honestly," he said.
The news seems to conflict with earlier reports that indicated Chinese government officials have been more keen to, if not promote, at least educate residents about gay rights in recent years. Pride celebrations in Hong Kong have drawn an increasing number of participants from mainland China. The Guardian even quoted one forum that reportedly joked that "tong xing," or same-sex, relationships could be the country's answer to its ever-increasingly lopsided boy-to-girl ratio, as it has been estimated that 24 million eligible men will be without spouses.
In 2010, the AFP cited experts who estimated there were about 30 million homosexuals in China, and 20 million of them are men.