Family Pressure on Gays and Lesbians in China

The World reports on the sham marriages that homosexuals in China increasingly enter into in order to avoid the stigma of being unmarried and childless by a certain age. Listen to the report here:

HAYES ZHOU: No matter who you are, you’re a boy or a girl, to a certain age you have to marry.

MARCUS: That’s 47-year-old Hayes Zhou. He ultimately bowed to the pressure and got married. Now he’s divorced, and openly dates men. Another man, a 33-year-old Army officer who didn’t want me to use his name, says he’s felt the pressure too.

ANONYMOUS ARMY OFFICER: People, they ask me, have you married? Why you still not married?

MARCUS: So two years ago he did what a lot of gay men in China are doing. He entered a sham marriage with a lesbian.

OFFICER: I become normal. And when we talk with others, I do not feel ashamed.

MARCUS: There are no firm data on this, but observers say a large percentage of gay men are entering into sham marriages. Confucian expert Dan Bell says it’s understandable.

BELL: If you live within a culture where providing for the material and emotional well being of one’s parents is regarded as a very important value, as opposed to the pursuit of personal happiness over and above all other considerations, then it won’t necessarily be regarded as a kind of sham marriage the same as it might in the west.

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