I'm inspired to write about the gay scene in China after reading a recent question on this forum from a gay foreign traveler who was asking if it was possible for his husband of nine months (married outside of China) to get a spousal visa when they came to live in China. And I nearly spat my coffee on my desk. Not that this is a funny question, cause it's not, but at the same time, in the context of how far China has to go for legislation honoring gay marriage—well, it's definitely going to take some time.
Of course, general homophobia is not constrained to just China. The US is slowly getting on board with California finally legalizing gay marriages, but for the most part, even in the US, homophobia has not yet worked it's way out of the value systems of the majority.
Okay, back to being gay in China: in cosmopolitan cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing, there is a bit of a gay scene. This teeny tiny scene is not going to rival Sydney, Rio or Cape Town, but at least there is a gay scene—more than the smaller cities in China, where gay men are married to women and are cloistered fathers to 1.0 children. (More after the jump... )
First of all, I am not gay, but the majority of my friends in Shanghai are fully flaming. So I guess that makes me a fag hag. But at any rate, I get to hear a never ending stream of information about the life of gays in China. It's the opposite of the "vagina monologues". More like the "anti-vagina monologues".
Gay bars and clubs in Shanghai
In Shanghai, there are a handful of gay clubs and bars frequented by both Chinese and foreigners, but they are hard to keep up with for several reasons (see our list of popular Shanghai gay bars and clubs below). The biggest and most popular gay club, Club Deep, was shut down in 2007 indefinitely. The shut-down was rumored to be for drugs, but rumors also circulated that it was because of all the crowds of shirtless and sexy homos. After Club Deep closed down, another club called LC opened up, but one week after opening, it was shut down for a while, for drugs, and has since closed. The point I am trying to make is that these busts specifically on gay clubs, suggest that China is not yet comfortable dancing happily under the rainbow banner.
While China's gay clubs might have trouble with drugs, Chinese people in general don't seem to be the type to gay bash, like you might find in Western countries. As long as you aren't hurting anyone, you're pretty safe in China.
Chinese girls in denial
And what do Chinese girls think of all these handsome, gay foreign devils? Well first of all, Chinese girls have terrible gaydar and it seems like a lot don't really believe in gay.
Gay men and the Internet
And sometimes, just sometimes, when I am sitting home on a rainy Friday night stroking my Persian cat, watching re-runs of "Sex and the City" and wishing I had a date—I envy gay men everywhere for their use of the Internet.
Even if you don't like to go to bars and are too shy to go up and talk to someone, you always can just sit at home with a cup of tea leering over photos of shirtless men on your computer screen who live in your city and want to meet you in person on sites like gaydar and fridae, 匯樂 (fridae is a popular website connecting gays all over Asia).
Smart Shanghai sex columnist, Matsume, couldn't have said it any more perfectly:
"At least you boys have gaydar! When was the last time you saw something like that for women!!! So stop your bitching and whining and find me gaydar for women!!!!"
So it looks like I am not the only weirdo in China who's jealous of gaydar. Forget Facebook profiles, give me straightdar any day so I can meet boys while wearing sweat pants, yesterday's mascara and eating a bowl of cornflakes on Sunday morning from the privacy of my laptop. Now that sounds a-maz-ing!!!!
Gay in Beijing:
For gay clubs and bars in Beijing, hit the dance floor or relax on the comfy couches at Beijing's favorite gay bar, Destination on Gongti Xi Lu, or check out SoBear, one of the city's best gay nightclubs, tucked underground in the West Tower on Dongdaqiao Lu. (See our list of popular Beijing gay bars and clubs below for more details.)
Gay in Hong Kong:
The most popular gay club in Hong Kong is Propaganda with its exciting vibe and loud music. A little further down Hollywood Road, Volume comes in at a close second with its friendly owners and sassy attitude. (See list our list of popular Hong Kong gay bars and clubs below for more details.)
Gay in Shanghai:
The oldest gay bar in Shanghai, Eddy's Bar, offers a friendly atmosphere for locals and visitors, and Shanghai Studio, a former bomb shelter that definitely has a cool underground feel, is a small space which keeps everyone on quite an intimate level. Shanghai Studio also throws some great special events parties with some legendary fancy dress. (See our list of popular Shanghai gay bars and clubs below for more details.)
(Post updated: 5 January 2012, by Amber Mizerak. Got any recommendations or updates for these or any other gay bars, clubs or groups in other Chinese cities? Tell us about them in the comments section below.)
Gay bars and clubs (Shanghai):
Gay bars and clubs (Beijing):
Gay bars and clubs (Hong Kong):
Propaganda (or "PP" according to locals)
Basement, 1 Hollywood Road, Central
Tel: (852) 2868 1316
Lower Ground Floor
83-85 Hollywood Road, Central
Tel: (852) 2857 7683
Soho Mid-Levels, Basement, On Lok Mansion, 39-43 Hollywood Road, Central
Tel: (852) 2543 8856
9 Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Tel: (852) 2186 1897
1/F, 30-32 Wyndham Street, Central
Tel: (852) 2868 6102
G/F, 7 - 9 Bristol Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: (852) 2723 2726
New Wally Matt Bar & Lounge
G/F, 5A Humphrey's Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: (852) 2721 2568
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