Larry’s View

Larry’s view on any and everything.

mum, dad, i’m gay

January 7, 2008
mum, dad, i’m gay
By Dinah Gardner
What’s next for parents? Increasingly in China, parents of gay children are not only accepting their sexuality but trying to help other families in the same situation support each other, Dinah Gardner reports.
Every Chinese queer teen must dread the thought of coming out to the parents. A face off with the demon force of 2,000 years of Confucian traditions is no joke. While China is blessed with a largely secular nation – there is little right wing Christian or Islamic homophobia for instance – mainland parents dream of their offspring getting hitched and carrying on the family name with a child of their own. A gay son or daughter is an unwelcome spanner in the works that can bring on anything from tears to the outright severance of family ties. No wonder so many lesbians and gays keep their sexuality under wraps and even get married to fulfil familial obligations – the ultimate sacrifice.

So when 18-year-old Zheng Yuantao in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou told his mother he liked boys, he must have been delighted by her reaction. Wu Youjian didn’t cry, introduce him to hot women or disown him. Instead she taught herself how to use a computer, got herself a Sina blog, and put their story online in the hope she could help other gay and lesbian children come out to their parents. In just six months her site had clocked up 100,000 hits and she had earned the affection of hundreds of gays and lesbians who now call her Auntie Wu.

Wu, a writer and editor by profession and a self-confessed liberal, said she found it easy to deal with her son’s sexuality because by the time, “Yuantao came out to me… I had read a lot of gay-themed books and movies (by his recommendation). Besides he had also been a good boy in school and in the family; he never made us worried.”

And therein lies the key, she says. If you want to come out to your parents do some groundwork first and feed your parents information on what being gay is all about before coming out to them. “Always make sure your parents have some understanding and acceptance of homosexuality before coming out to them,” she advises.

“Coming out to younger, trustworthy members of the family first might also help.” It also helps if you work hard in school and, in all ways, are an exemplary son or daughter.

“Just make sure you’re well behaved [and a good student],” she says. This “can hopefully give you more credit when you try to convince your parents that you are gay and it’s fine.” But, Wu adds, not all gay children should feel they have to tell their family their sexuality. “If the parent-child relationship hasn’t been close then I don’t think they should tell.”

Of course it helps if your parents are bohemian. But their story is not an isolated case. Now, increasingly in China, parents of gay children are not only accepting their sexuality but trying to help other families in the same situation support each other.

When Wu Youjian’s was told by her son that he’s gay, she started a blog (top) to write about their experience in the hope she could help other gay and lesbian children come out to their parents. Similarly for Sun Dehua, who went from wanting to literally kill him to launching a hotline for parents to help them understand their gay children. Click on the link below to read article on Sun in the South china Morning Post.

In 2001, when Sun Dehua – 58-year-old-farmer in China’s northeastern city of Dalian – found out his only son was shacked up with his boyfriend, he literally wanted to kill him. Sun was quoted as saying in the South china Morning Post in an interview published in 2005 that he had even bought a can of petrol with the intention of blowing a gay bar which his son, Mu, had owned and operated in Dalian. It was only after his son and partner fled the city that his father reconsidered his position after his son’s friends mediated the situation. He got to know more of his son’s gay friends and began reading some of the free material in his son’s bar (where he also worked) on homosexuality and HIV prevention.

“I learned that my son is not mentally ill. It was my fault that I didn’t know my own son well enough before.”

In September 2006, he started China’s first hotline to help parents understand their gay children. He has also become involved as a volunteer to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among the local gay community.

He was quoted as saying in the Post: “I am really glad seeing them together, because Mu is so happy when he’s with him (his son’s boyfriend). Now it feels like I have two sons. And I do hope the law will allow them to get married one day.”

Wu also encourages parents to do their homework on what being gay is all about.

“They should seek to find out what science says about homosexuality,” she says.

“Science can rid them of this unreasonable fear. I feel comfortable that my son is gay because I know being gay is not a crime… or a disgrace.” At the end of the day your child’s happiness is more important than carrying on the family name, she says.

On her blog, 60-year-old Wu offers encouraging words to gays and lesbians struggling with their sexuality and dispenses advice on everything from boyfriend/girlfriend troubles to how to deal with parental pressure to have a conventional marriage. She says she values how far-reaching the web can be.

“I can actually use my blog to connect to people and express my views – encouraging society and families to accept homosexuality.”

She has a lot of fans on her site. Many gays and lesbians find her articles and advice a comforting resource. “Auntie Wu, you are so great!,” writes one blogger.

“It must be great to be your son. My mother left me when I was seven years old. I cannot imagine what she would think if she knows I am gay.”

Not everyone is so appreciative. Homophobes also find their way onto her blog. “”Even animals don’t have gay sex,” writes one angry blogger.

“Don’t you have any shame? Go to hell!” Wu told Chinese media that she sometimes deletes hateful comments but leaves others just to create some controversy.

Their situation attracted the attention of local media. Two years ago the mother and son team appeared on a Nanfang TV talk show. Wu says she was initially worried about appearing on the show.

“I hesitated, because here, in this city [Guangzhou], there are a lot people who know me and what would they think of me if they knew my son is gay. But later, I thought there was nothing wrong with my son to love boys, I am his mother. I am supposed to stand by him.” She adds that after the show aired she became a minor celebrity. “Even taxi drivers recognised me and encouraged me.” ae

Related Sites
Wu Youjian’s blog (in Chinese)
Dalian Rainbow work group (in Chinese)
Father’s path from pain to acceptance of gay son (South china Morning Post, PDF)

January 7, 2008 - Posted by | Blogroll, Gay General, Gay Issue & Rights-Overseas

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