Confusing sexual orientation

By Li Jieyi and Katrin Büchenbacher Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/28 19:58:40

Some young Chinese students are trying to know more about who they are

The young generation in China is becoming more inclusive toward sexuality issues, and some of them have questioned their sexual orientation. Photo: VCG

"Never," the girl surnamed Hu said who was sitting to my left in a taxi. She looks out of the window with eyes going out of focus slightly after answering the question, 'have you ever fallen in love with someone'? After a few minutes of silence, she suddenly turned toward me and added," I would say yes, but it was with a girl." Widening my eyes at the girl who just turned 18, I was surprised at how calm she was when she talked about her sexuality during our first meeting. "I have no questions about my sexual orientation, I am bisexual," Hu said. 

According to a survey released by a group of students in Guangdong Province, there are 8,182 valid respondents from 10 universities in Guangzhou, about one-fifth of male students and one-fourth of female students showed that they have some degree of divergence from exclusive heterosexuality. That means university students in China are potentially involved in same-sex sexual attraction.

Nowadays, young people are more open-minded toward this topic compared with older generations. Young people like Hu talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and even try to explore their sexuality in their daily life. Metropolitan talked with people aged 20 to better understand their opinion about LGBT and sexuality.

Respective bases on understanding, online information, and gay rights movements around the world are all channels for youth to know more about the LGBT community. Photo: VCG

Questions about sexuality

Zhang Ting, a 19-year-old girl, studying in Beijing said she feels confused about her sexuality. Compared with men, she finds women are more attracted to her sometimes. "I couldn't resist the impulse to kiss my close female friends because I really like them," she said.

Another 22-year-old Chinese girl surnamed Yuan said, "To some extent, it's possible for me to fall in love with a girl." She is a university student in Beijing who said that she might be an untypical bisexual. Zhang and her roommates used to talk about bisexual topics, and they guess most of the girls could be bisexual. 

On the opposite, boys seem quite sure about their straight identity. All the five male interviewees said they've never doubted their sexuality. "I'm a straight man, it's hard for me to imagine having a relationship with a person from the same sex and even if I'm willing to protect a man or be protected by him," said a 26-year-old university student surnamed Chang. However, when asked whether he will be attracted to men, "You never know what will happen in the future," he said.

Misguided youth?

There could be many reasons for a trend that the young generation is more inclusive towards gay topics. "The boundary between two genders becomes unclear, a man could be sissy while a woman could be powerful, which may change the relationship between the opposite sex," Yuan guessed.

With the advance of social media and the developing movement towards equal rights, it's easy for the youth to get information about the LGBT community. Online novels are channels for Hu to know more about sexuality. She decided to show her love to her girlfriend because of a novel she had read. She found the story of a lesbian couple to be very similar to what she has experienced with her girlfriend. "We hadn't been meeting each other for a long time when I was reading the book. I missed her a lot and that was the time when I realized I really love her," Hu recalled. Some parents, however, want to protect their children from that information, so that their kids will not become a part of the LGBT group.

 Xin Ying, the director at the Beijing LGBT Center said that introducing knowledge about sexuality to the public could be part of sex education. "But parents usually become the barrier for children to accept it," Xin said.

 Photo: VCG

Education matters

Homophobia arises from ignorance. "My parents are really against anything related to LGBT, but our generation is more open-minded about that," Hu said. 

Xin is thankful for the internet and some LGBT organizations. It's possible for the young generation to get information and hold a more positive attitude toward the LGBT community and people's sexuality. "This is a generation in which more people have accepted same-sex education," Xin noted.

Some non-commercial organizations in China like Marie Stopes China are dedicated to supporting student activities and helping young people accurately get sex education.

Xin and her colleagues also provide psychological counseling for people at the Beijing LGBT Center. "Most of the time, our job is to give information and knowledge to help people explore their sexuality by themselves, rather than judge them," Xin said.

Although some of the young people are beginning to explore and think of their sexuality, they are the minority among their peers. "I'm happy to see that some students in middle and high school have built an official account on Wechat for LGBT information," she added.

In September 2018 in Qingdao, Shandong Province, a gay teacher took the school he was employed by to court, because he was fired a month earlier due to his sexuality. That marks the first time a Chinese citizen has brought such a case to the judicial system in China. Although there are positive changes in China, a lot of progress still needs to be made concerning topics of LGBT and sexuality. "Education matters because it can remove fears and promote mutual understanding," said Xin.


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