According to the state run China Daily quoting a prominent gay rights campaigner, as many as 12 to 16 million women in China may be married to homosexual men.
Zhang Bei-chuan, a medical professor at Qingdao University and an expert on AIDS and HIV, says about 80% of an estimated 16 million gay men in China have either married or are of marrying age. The number of women with gay husbands works out to be about 12 million, he said, given that same-sex marriage is not legal in the country and men face social pressure to marry and have children regardless of their sexual orientation.
Chinese women married to gay men are often known as "tongqi" (同妻) meaning "wives of comrades," referencing the Mandarin term tongzhi often used to refer to gay men in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.
The term has been in use as early as 2009 by renowned sexologist and sociologist Li Yinhe who wrote in a blog post that as many as 80% of 20 million male homosexuals may be married to women.
In a report about the same issue in 2010, the Economist reported that in comparison only an estimated 15-20% of gay men in America marry heterosexual women. It further quoted Liu Dalin, a pioneering sexologist now retired from the University of Shanghai, who put the share in China at 90% and if so, the number of tongqi in China may be as high as 25 million.
A number of support groups such as the Tongqi Association (同妻联合会) and Pink Space Sexuality Research Centre in Beijing now exist to support women married to gay men. Women married to gay men often feel cheated and humiliated as they are usually the last to know the truth about their husbands' sexuality while others may suffer years of domestic violence at the hands of their frustrated husbands.
While a small fraction eventually opt for divorce, most stay on unhappily in their desolate unions to financial dependence, familial or social pressure, or if they have children.
As early as 1993, Professor Li has tried to advocate for same-sex marriage in China. She argues that legalising same-sex marriage would help to significantly reduce the number of tongqi and hollow marriages in China.
I think marrying a woman who doesn't know you are gay or thinks she can 'cure' you, is one of the worst things you can do to another person.
I understand the social pressures, but the result is great unhappiness all around. In an overpopulated country like China, you would expect more readiness to educate on this subject, and allow gay marriage. Just as they reformed the marriage laws to outlaw polygamy, not so long ago.
Any joy on getting marriage rights for same sex couples in China ?
Meanwhile he lives a sad double life and gets whatever love,sex and affection he can on the side.Life is not a dress rehearsal and it's quite sad if one must live like this.
And #12, you're correct, it definitely happens all over, but the obsession with having a male child is MUCH more prevalent in Asian cultures. But you're right about the societal and familial pressure to marry... I believe gay people worldwide deal with that.
This being said this article does not -in substance- add anything more
than was written in the The Economist excellent article of Mar 18th 2010 which I read at the time.
This a perverse situation the Chinese govt can only blame itself for; meanwhile, thousands of men and women suffer 1) to save face 2)
for a rotten bit of comfort...having none at the end of the day.
A great shame.
Aside from these two sides, there may be another side.
Women happy with their gay husbands and vise versa. Some women would rather share their sexy beautiful "gay" hubbies with their same sex than having to compete with other women. Also, depending on the needs of the wife, sometimes she can be contented with her children and her good life. Sex has many solutions.
Let us hear the married gays of different nationalities speak for themselves. The opinions of gays, who never have had experiences with women or are totally repelled by the idea, consist only one point of view. Some of these opinions may even be rationalizations for not getting married and for not facing up to the pressures of the family, society, professions, and peers. Nevertheless, all views are all well and good.
But let's hear out everyone else, especially those directly involved in the issue.
1st, the Royal College of Psychiatrists' views on Homosexuality expressed in an article on its Official Website, "Psychiatry and LGB People" ( http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/rollofhonour/specialinterestgroups/gaylesbian/submissiontothecofe/psychiatryandlgbpeople.aspx ). Earlier, experts including psychologists had opined that sexual orientation could be caused by social factors in addition to biological ones. But this recent RCP article narrows the cause to primarily Biological. It says, and I quote, "It would appear that sexual orientation is BIOLOGICAL IN NATURE, DETERMINED BY genetic factors (Mustanski et al, 2005) and/or the early uterine environment (Blanchard et al. 2006). Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice, though sexual behaviour clearly is." If this MEDICAL view becomes mainstream, the society, lawmakers and non-health professionals such as policemen, teachers and HR managers should be able to accept us more for what we are. If sexual orientation is indeed something that's BIOLOGICAL, it's an Act of God. No-one can be blamed. I hope that this medical view will be adopted for all Biology textbooks used in schools & universities. If the future generations grow up being taught the FACT in school that sexual orientation is BIOLOGICAL IN NATURE, the society's attitude towards the LGBT community should improve over time.
Another interesting presentation (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/0945%20King%20Sidlaw%20Thurs.pdf) by a medical professor at University College London gives an illuminating insight into the historical development of changes in the psychiatric profession's views on homosexuality. The presenter calls the homophobic groups/nations "way behind".
Since homosexuality is BIOLOGICAL IN NATURE, then the society would have to accept that certain people are born to drink by "shoving a straw up their noses". Some people are simply born to "drink with nose" even though the majority are born to drink with mouth.
I'm sure at least some married gay men love their wives and children tremendously although I assume many would like to have gay sex, too, if they could.
Openness, tolerance and acceptance would certainly make it easier for gay men to follow their hearts.
Well, there are aspects to being gay of which sex is only one part. It is presumptive of you to claim it is just about sex. A totally gay man does not fall in love with women, he falls in love with men. Being gay involves emotional and sexual attraction to the same sex. He can never love a wife in the same way that she may love him, or he may love another man. That is certainly not a recipe for happiness, and why these wives end up having breakdowns and seeking help through the new tongqi website.
Sunthemoon - excellent post, thank you!
there's an old saying in China goes like 'when a man reaches his 30, he should be aware of his life and destiny'. usually in China, when a man is around his 30s, he would get married and have kids. for gay men around 'marriage ages' who have got married, what pushes them to do so is not only because people around them would see them weirdly if they didn't, but also their own willingness to have family and kids, as a milestone of their lifetime and a comfort for their parents as well. Literally it sounds a little bit brutal for their wives, but thousands of millions of gay men live this way of life daily, can you say that 100% of them live everyday painfully and regretfully? maybe they just have learnt how to manage themselves properly, though with some sacrifices.
I hope everyone can educate all the straights women to serious aware that they should not expect so.
But I guess you are right about it being the low priority given to women in some societies. But they are fighting back in China.
If, as 30's year old grownups, they are unable to stand up for peer and societal pressures for such an important incident of their life, then maybe it's not just the government at fault, but inherently they are majorly lacking in education, morality and a sense of responsibility.
All the gay men who must get married to save face hookup with all the gay women who must also get married to save face. Neither need to live with lies and the problem is solved!
Ok, they are not tricking eachother, but the whole thing is a sham and destined for misery. How sad to ruin 2 lives just because of fear of what others may think.
as Comment # 25 put it rather aptly and hit the nail on the head, that is how I will embrace it- as a challenge of a lifetime.
Sad but true reality of life.