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Homosexuality in China

Two young men enjoying each others company way back in the Qing era (Image: Wikipedia)

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".

Shanghai is the most sexually progressive city in China.
I would hazard a guess that Shanghai is the most sexually progressive city in China. With it's reputation as "the Whore of the Orient" and "Sin City", Shanghai is known for being open-minded when it comes to sex and fun times. I've seen a number of my friends who've arrived in this city firmly lodged in the closet, only to throw the doors wide open after a few weeks and get down with their gay selves. So while China may be a bit conservative when it comes to homosexuality, Shanghai, at least, is a place where pretty much anything goes.

Gay bars and clubs in Shanghai

Shanghai Studio

Shanghai Studio (Photo: City Weekend)

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.

Chinese girls have terrible gaydar and it seems like a lot don't really believe in gay.
When a friend of mine, teaching English to university students, was asked after one year by a favorite female student if he liked Chinese girls, he responded that he actually preferred Chinese men. She looked shocked and then disbelieving. And finally, she declared that she simply did not believe him. He may think he is gay, but she definitely knew better. To her, there was no such thing as gay and if a man entertained such notions, it would just be a matter of time before he fell head over gay heels in love with the right woman. It seems that a lot of Chinese girls are not put off when they meet a handsome foreign guy who declares himself to be a homosexual. Ha ha, don't worry, he'll eventually come around. Trust me, girls, I feel your pain, but I know enough homos to have given up entertaining hopes that they'll fall irresistibly in love with my charms and drop their facades of incredible gayness...

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!!!!

For information on the gay scene and events in China, check out: Gayshanghai and Utopiaasia.

gay china, gay travel

Gay life, gay bars, gay travel... gay China!

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):

 

G8 (formerly Frangipani)
399 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Lu, Jing'an District
上海静安区大沽路399
Tel: (86 21) 5375 0084

Eddy's Bar
1877 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Tianping Lu, Xuhui District
徐汇区淮海中路1877, 近天平路
Tel: (86 21) 6282 0521

Shanghai Studio
Bldg 4, 1950 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Wukang Lu, LuWan District
淮海中路19504号楼, 近武康路
Tel: 021 6283 1043

Transit Lounge
141 Tai An Road, near Huashan Road, Xuhui District
泰安路141,華山路
Tel: (86 21) 6283 3051

Rice Bar
532 Fahuazhen Lu, near Dingxi Lu, Changning District
长宁区法华镇路532, 近定西路
Tel: (86 ) 159 2110 9881

Upstairs
842 Hengshan Lu, near Tianping Lu, Xuhui District
衡山路842, 近天平路
Tel: (86 21) 5466 0842

Gay bars and clubs (Beijing):

 

Destination
7 Gongti Xilu, Chaoyang District
工体西路7, 朝阳区
Tel: (86 10) 6552 8180

SoBear
B112, West Tower, Shangdu SOHO, 8 Dongdaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District
朝阳区东大桥路8SOHO尚都西座B112
Tel: (86) 159 1050 8964

Mesh
First floor The Opposite House, 11 Sanlitun Lu, Building 1, Sanlitun Village, Chaoyang District
朝阳区三里屯路11
Tel: (86 10) 6417 6688

Jujiao Yanyi Bar (聚焦演艺酒吧)
B1, The Golden Sun Hotel, 85 Xibianmennei Dajie, Xicheng District
西城区西便门内大街85号金色夏日商务酒店地下一层
Tel:
(86 10) 5166 3298

Dao Le (到了)
2-102, 22 International Plaza, 32 Baiziwan Lu, Chaoyang District
朝阳区百子湾路32号二十二院街艺术区2-012

Alfa
6 Xingfu Yicun, (In hutong opposite north gate of Workers' Stadium), Chaoyang District,
朝阳区幸福一村6号工体北门对面的胡同里
Tel: (86 10) 6413 0086

Gay bars and clubs (Hong Kong):

 

Propaganda (or "PP" according to locals)
Basement, 1 Hollywood Road, Central
Tel: (852) 2868 1316

Volume
Lower Ground Floor
83-85 Hollywood Road, Central
Tel: (852) 2857 7683

Drop
Soho Mid-Levels, Basement, On Lok Mansion, 39-43 Hollywood Road, Central
Tel: (852) 2543 8856

Club 97
9 Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Tel: (852) 2186 1897

The Works
1/F, 30-32 Wyndham Street, Central
Tel: (852) 2868 6102

Tony's Bar
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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Comments

  1. I am gay white male in Canada, looking for Gay Chinese male to come to Canada and learn to be Canadian but still keep Chinese culture.Young male 23-30 years of age, single, bold, adventurous. I have a travel agency here in Calgary. But would like opportunity to promote networking, Canadian style with Chinese flair. Lets talk more.

    By Philip March 19,2011 03:53 AM

  2. i am gay from reunion island and i plan to go china.
    thank you for these advices.

    By julien malod December 26,2011 05:17 PM

  3. This article is wildly offensive.

    By Michael January 05,2012 06:03 PM

  4. This article is in no way offensive. Its an honest and amusing look at homosexuality and the gay scene in china. The only offensive thing on this page is a comment above trawling for chinese rent boys.

    By J January 06,2012 06:41 PM

  5. Someone thinks this story is fantastic...

    This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report - a collection of China's best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it....

    By Hao Hao Report January 11,2012 02:14 PM

  6. I see no offence in the comments, the first one maybe it's a bit weird. Anyway, great article, it's good to open the eyes of many people who hasn't got any idea about what is happening in China about this matter.

    By Pierce Ingelton January 11,2012 06:20 PM

  7. I agree, not at all offensive, don't get your knickers in a twist Michael. It is a bit guy-centric though, how about a follow up with some more info on the lady-love scene in China. Are Chinese girls equally in denial of that or a little more understanding??

    By curious January 16,2012 10:51 AM

  8. Hi i'm french man, 42 years old and i will spend a week with my boyfriend in shanghai from 26 th of february till 4th of march. We are lookin for friends to dicover shanghai.
    See you !! Chris

    By christophe February 20,2012 06:51 PM

  9. My partner and I will be visiting Beijing Feb 26-29 and Shanghai March 1st -3rd, so this is great information to know that they’re some gay clubs we can attend to. Excited!!! Can’t wait to mingle with the crowd of gay guys in China. (From Miami, Florida U.S.A)

    By Areis February 24,2012 04:44 AM

  10. Dear Chris and Areis, We welcome you to China with open arms! I am sure you will have a blast in Beijing and Shanghai. Glad we could pass on helpful info, and hope that you have a great time while you're here!
    Warmest regards,
    Amber

    By Amber Mizerak February 24,2012 09:39 AM

  11. I am 23yr old gay chinese male originally from Hong Kong who lived in europe for quite a while and now got relocated to work in China:) shoot me an email if you want to know more.

    By Caleb March 03,2012 10:06 AM

  12. This article rocks! I will be visitng Beijing this April (17-20) and will be staying somewhere in Dongsishitiao Dongcheng Dist. Hoping I could meet a posible company to join me in one of the clubs. Equally excited. I'm Filipino by the way.

    John

    By John April 03,2012 05:10 PM

  13. Great Article,

    My Chinese friend has actually opened a new gay friendly club in Shanghai, Empty Closet (I gave him the name). But he hasn't got many customers yet so it would be great if some shanghai people could go down and help him out.

    His number is 13939073723

    Also he is handsome and single, a great catch but i've got a boyfriend already!

    By Empty Closet Shanghai May 21,2012 12:25 PM

  14. Chengdu is one of the most gay friendly cities in China,inhabited by more than 100,000 gay population,Chengdu is considered as a gay happy land.
    Thanks to the mild temperature, boys in Chengdu are good looking,naturally sweet temper.
    Chengdu is also the home of Giant Pandas, Capital of culinary , thousands years old Buddhist Temples.

    By Chengdu boys June 12,2012 10:45 AM

  15. If you are traveling in guangzhou and looking for a good gay massage please call 18810002165

    By henry September 02,2012 05:29 PM

  16. New Bar in Tianhe,,,OZIO,,, liu yun third street no.31 ,101,tianhe,, 六运三街31101。。。天河

    By Raul October 20,2012 01:45 AM

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