Weber (2012) begins with an anecdote of his personal love affair during his trip to China and discusses the discrepancy between American and Chinese LGBTQ norms. In Chinese culture, a gay man did not have the choice of living with a same-sex partner and “that his life would follow traditional Asian values, and that there was no question of living with a man.” For the Chinese, this is considered to be the way of life. Being gay is one's freedom of choice and expression; however, a man in Chinese culture has the responsibility to have children and a family- essentially embodying heterosexuality. Similarly to initial American contempt and disapproval of homosexuality, Chinese culture as a whole generally does not promote or even support homosexuality and the like. In his article, Emilio states, “rather than liberation, Americans who thought about homosexuality at all, including many gay men and women themselves, would have preferred elimination.” Today, American society has been increasingly more accepting of people who identify with the LGBTQ community, whereas before homosexuality was considered a form of disease. In China, homosexuality was also considered a disease but have become tolerant of LGBTQ individuals. According to Weber's (2012) column, gay men and women in China often have “broken links with their families.” This traumatic experience for those who do identify as homosexual usually leads them to living double lives, in which they engage in heterosexual practices of having a family with children yet also satisfy their desires that correspond with their true sexuality.
Weber (2012) also mentions the idea of Confuscianism and the way it affects the lives of LGBTQ individuals who live in China. In American society, there are a variety of religions among our diverse culture, many of which don't support homosexuality as well. Anyone has the option to refuse a religion in America and entwine his or her own beliefs in his or her lives. However, Confuscianism in China has long played a huge role in the way Chinese society is structured. If the norm is considered to be heterosexuality among millions of people, then the so-called “odd ones out” in the LGBTQ community will face much criticism in a country such as China. Confuscianism itself strongly disapproves of homosexuality because the idea of offspring is greatly encouraged and is undoubtedly expected. In Martin F. Manalasan IV's article, he points out that “Asian American gay men['s] identity [is] regarded as a static given and ethnic identity [is constructed] as a polar opposite of gay identity.” Clearly, ethnic identity and gay identity can't be polar opposites since many Asian-Americans do incorporate their sexualities into both American and Asian cultures. Weber (2012) explains that in Confuscianism, “being gay is not considered an immoral choice but a refusal to participate in society.” This participation in society means extending generations by having children. In addition, many individuals can decide to ignore their homosexuality in order to “save face” and retain some pride in Chinese society.
Based on the historical contexts and differences in American and Chinese cultures, it is clear that the level of acceptance of Asian LGBTQ individuals is affected by society's conventions. A person who identifies as LGBTQ may experience drastic differences in the way he or she is treated in America and in China. The Chinese race and the Chinese-American race anticipate distinctive social behaviors from its citizens within the LGBTQ community; more specifically, the Chinese are expected to participate in heterosexual reproduction, whereas Chinese-Americans can more freely express their love for a same-sex partner and never even have to consider the idea of children. Society is what we create, and we have the same power to change the way we believe.
By Judy Phung
John D’Emilo. “Homosexuality and American Society: An Overview” from Sexual
Politics, Sexual, Communities in the United States 1940-1970. Chicago, Ill:
University of Chicago Press, 1983.
Martin F. Manalasan IV. “Searching for Community: Filipino Gay Men from New York
City”. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Routledge Chapman Hall,
Weber, Marten. "Move Over, Confucius!" 30 January 2012. Web, 8 Feb 2012.