So when are you getting married? Find a nice girl and settle down. You know, have a FAMILY. Have children. Don’t keep us waiting. Sound familiar?
Welcome to China, home to a possible 25 million wives of gay men. In this nation of over a billion people, about 90 percent of homosexual men marry women. Seems that the name for childless families is juehu, which means “a house that is severed”. So despite being gay, despite the fact that they know they are gay, despite the fact that their parents know they are gay, they marry.
The women are known as tongqi. This combines the words “tongzhi” which means comrade and is slang for gay, and “qizi” which means wife in Mandarin. Yes, there’s a support group for that. In China, many tongqi get support from Pink Space, a Beijing based group which offers support for sexually oppressed people.
As with the Straight Spouse Network in the west, many wives feel relief once they connect with others in the same situation, as well as immense anger at the deception. They also have experiences of marriage common with their western sisters – husbands who do not want to look at them or touch them, or value them as women, sexless marriages, severe depression. These are all pretty common experiences for western women who discover that they are, as many in the gay community tag them, “breeders” and not much more.
Typically in China, the wives of gay men are sexually inexperienced. All the better to convince her that the dysfunction is her fault. There isn’t a lot written about this, and even less about the husbands of lesbians. However, when a woman in China discovers she is a lesbian, and wants to have a child, she can certainly do so out of wedlock – she just won’t be able to register that child for education or services unless there is a father. So, there is enormous pressure on lesbians to marry, either to conceive a child or to get a father for a child they may have conceived artificially.
25 million women and an untold number of men. That’s a lot of people to offer support to. Pink Space, don’t be a stranger – let us know how we can help. We don’t have money, but we do have resources, experience, and a whole lot in common.