Note: This post was originally published on HuffPost Germany and was translated into English. It was adapted for an American audience.
“Will you ever bring home a girl to introduce to us?” This is the kind of question many families ask their sons during the holidays-- and Fang Chao’s family was no exception.
But for years Fang Chao dreaded this question. It’s not that he was unable to find a girlfriend -- Fang Chao is gay and his family had absolutely no idea.
The video below tells his story. The young man explains that it was only his love for his boyfriend that encouraged him not to hide any longer.
But his parents didn’t accept his coming out. They labeled him as shameless and said that they didn’t have a son anymore.
In China, stories like this, unfortunately,are not uncommon. In the Chinese concept of family, it’s a young man’s duty to marry and beget children –- preferably sons. In China, where governmental structures to support the elderly have only recently been developed, children are expected to support their parents after retirement, and carrying on the family line is a central cultural value. In fact, it was only in 2001 that “homosexuality” was taken off China’s official list of mental illnesses. And even now, in some hospitals gay people are treated with electroconvulsive therapy in the hope that they can “cure” them of their homosexuality.
However, Fang Chao’s story ended up taking a surprising turn. In a video released in February, Chao’s parents realized and acknowledged that he is, of course, still the same person they loved -- despite his sexual orientation. In the video, they ask him to visit for Chinese New Year.
PFLAG’s China branch, the organization that released the video, seeks to bring gay rights to the forefront of Chinese society. Most of all, they want to motivate LGBT people to come out and make them believe in the understanding and love of their parents.
Mothers who joined the organization speak out at the end of the video to encourage the viewers not to hide any longer.
“Don’t let your parents’ love be a burden.”
“Kids, spend your holidays at home. Your mothers are waiting for you back home.”
The video was especially important to Ah Qiang, one of its creators. He told the story of his own coming-out in an interview with “BBC Trending.”
Ah Qiang never had the chance to tell his mother he’s gay because she died unexpectedly when he was young. Even today, he still gets sad talking about it.
After his mother’s death, it took him two years to tell his father and stepmother that he is gay. As he explained why he had not returned home for the Chinese New Year, his father only had one question: “Who is going to take care of you when you’re old?”
Because of its gay-friendly content, QQ, China’s most popular social media network, refused to post the video on its homepage. Nevertheless, the video became famous in China, racking up more than 100 million views, and made it to the homepage anyway -- one more step forward for queer visibility against the odds.
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