Archive for race

“Family” Planning- Irene Tung on Queer life in China

Posted in People of Color, politics, queer with tags , , , , , , on December 26, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

This Article was written by Irene about her very interesting recent trip to China.

Dou Dou and Feng, a Chinese lesbian couple from the city of Shenyang in Northeast China, plan to have a baby together.  However, they have no intention of ever coming out to their parents.

I met them this October at a lesbian, bi and trans organizing training in Anshan in the Liaoning province of China where I was helping to conduct workshops on global LGBT history and organizational development.  Feng and Dou Dou (pronounced DOUGH-dough), both 23, created and maintain a popular web-based bulletin board that provides information and on-line counseling to Chinese lesbians. They were among activists from throughout Northeast China who attended the training.

Over breakfast one day, I asked Dou Dou and Feng, who requested to be identified only by their nicknames, about their plans for the future. They have been together for several years and have decided not to come out to their families. Instead, Feng plans to arrange a fake marriage with a gay male friend.  They will hold an elaborate wedding with friends and extended family, buy property together and live together. Dou Dou will stay “single”.  Feng and her gay friend will stay in their queer relationships, but maintain the facade of a heterosexual married lifestyle to their families. Dou Dou and Feng are both only children, as per China’s one child policy. They are part of a generation of children, born after the policy was enacted in 1979, who are facing severe pressure from their families to marry as they enter their mid-to-late twenties. Many are considering fake marriages, a practice which has created tremendous controversy in the Chinese queer community. Some see it as selling out, while others counter that the pressure from their family is too strong for them to bear.

When I asked Feng and Dou Dou about having children, they said that they definitely plan to have a child within the fake marriage arrangement.  The child would bear the gay man’s surname. It would call Feng, “mom”, the gay friend, “dad”, and Dou Dou, “godmother”.  But Dou Dou says she would still consider it her child. They say they wouldn’t tell the child the truth about the fake marriage until he or she becomes a teenager. Both of them see it as the only viable way for them to raise a child together.

One evening during dinner with other conference participants, someone asked if my partner and I plan to have kids.  I had traveled to China with my partner, who is Irish-Italian from South Jersey.  We answered that we were unsure, but that it was a possibility.  At that point, the three young gay men at the table literally jumped out of their chairs in their enthusiasm to volunteer themselves as sperm donors. We were a little taken aback, not quite sure what to make of it. It became clear very quickly however that they were only interested in providing sperm to inseminate my white partner, and not me. In response to their offers, we poured another round of drinks and told them we would think about it.

It turns out that Chinese people are obsessed with biracial, hapa babies. I spoke with several people in China who believe that hapa children are not only more beautiful, but also more intelligent. In Beijing, I met one couple that is actively seeking a white sperm donor.

Some lesbian couples in China who–unlike Feng and Dou Dou–are out to their families, hope to raise children together as openly queer parents.  Couples seeking to do so face significant legal and cultural obstacles. The Chinese government has actively opposed LGBT couples raising children. In 2006, it banned adoption of Chinese children by foreign gay couples, citing a stipulation that adoptive couples must be “healthy”. Also, unmarried women are not officially allowed to buy sperm from authorized sperm banks in China.

While the act of homosexuality is decriminalized in China, activists have recently reported an increase in surveillance, raids and arrests of people involved in queer organizing activities, especially in the period leading up to the Olympic Games this past summer.  Despite these challenges, the movement is growing in strength.  This November, following the training in Anshan and similar events in other cities, the first national alliance of lesbian, bi and trans organizations, representing thousands of members, was formalized in Shanghai. (Support their efforts!)

An amazing break dancing performance by two teenage trans boys at the closing ceremony of the conference in Anshan.

An amazing break dancing performance by two teenage trans boys at the closing ceremony of the conference in Anshan.

photo from one of the panel discussions. The banner reads, “2008 Lesbian Camp, Lesbian Networking, Anshan”

photo from one of the panel discussions. The banner reads, “2008 Lesbian Camp, Lesbian Networking, Anshan”

Ming Ming, from Beijing, wearing a t-shirt that says, “We demand to watch homosexual movies.”  The t-shirts were created as part of an anti-censorship campaign to respond to the Chinese government’s ban of all films that refer to LGBT themes.

Ming Ming, from Beijing, wearing a t-shirt that says, “We demand to watch homosexual movies.” The t-shirts were created as part of an anti-censorship campaign to respond to the Chinese government’s ban of all films that refer to LGBT themes.

Normal, Better, Drunker

Posted in Party, politics, queer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2008 by thebrooklynsocialite

Sorry I´ve been a little bit out of commission lately. There is a price to pay for being a purveyor of nightlife. Especially when best mates come to town and pour vodka down your throat. It is not that you (me) are saying no at the time, but when you are crawling towards lattes in the morning, the regret does really set in. I can admit that much! In my defense, the work has continued. The joy of The Brooklyn Socialite is not just writing, but also curating, and I have enjoyed the chance to put forth some other perspectives lately. Shannon tells us that Queer is normal, Susan Strkyker alludes to the concept that Queer people may be supra-normal, in fact special spiritual leaders, equipped with extra fabulousity.

Monday night, I attended the GO magazine Nightlife Awards, which suggested that perhaps queers are drunker. Susan Westenhoeffer hosted the affair, a comedian, who actually managed to be quite funny. DJ Stacy was on decks and they hysterically kept giving self-shout outs. “DJ Stacy in the house!!” That was the highlight. The most fun moment came when we went to find food after the party ended. It was in hot mess midtown at a place called Touch (pretty fancy club by the way). We wondered down 8th ave and eventually found a Kashmiri restaurant/deli. It was dirt cheap and we got a selection of quite tasty buffet items, then settled down to eat them at the shop´s single table. We shared the little eating spot, with a  bearded man dressed in traditional Muslim attire. He told us that he was European American, but had long ago converted to Islam. He recommended Briyani and agreed that the food was very spicy, but one gets used to it. I left with my mouth on fire and we wondered down to HK lounge for the Awards After Party. It was a really intense go-go dancer scene and we didn´t stay long!

Last night feels like it was a continuation of Monday night, because my cultural consumption was somehow limited. Not completely though, as I am given to having Existential conversations while under the influence. This is what I love about certain friends of mine. Race, class, gender, identity, art…everything is invoked on the bar stool and when I look around and listen, I notice that other people are doing it too. Last night ended at 4am, me dragging my friend away from a pretty great chat at Mug about Obama and race in America. The Jamaican man told us, he is not African-American, someone said that I wasn´t, my friend insisted that I am, another biracial guy on a  bar stool, said that he considers himself to be black and white and then this white guy said, “I am totally white, I`m Ukrainian!” Wow, I don´t know what was going on. Time for that latte I guess!