Perception of Same-Sex Marriage from Within:The Impact of Internalized Heteronormativity over Chinese Tongzhi

Wei Wei
East China University of Science and Technology
Journal of East China University of Science and Technology:Social Science Edition 2010-1

Abstract:Li Yinhe's proposal on same-sex marriage has brought the issue of sexual minority's right to public in China.How Chinese ordinary tongzhi-other than those gay movement activists-think about same-sex marriage is hardly the focus of documentation.Based on in-depth interviews with 48 middle class male tongzhi in Shanghai,this study reveals some different voices around same-sex marriage within the tongzhi community.Except for very few who debated over same-sex marriage by criticizing the marriage institution,many participants were not identified with same-sex marriage because of heteronormativity deeply internalized into their personal life.Most participants regarded cultural innovation rather than legalization as more fundamental to make same-sex partnership recognized by the society.In conclusion,the significance of same-sex marriage proposal in today's China is largely symbolic.Expanding tongzhi's cultural spaces and promoting gender and sexual diversity provide an effective pathway to enhance living condition of sexual minorities.
Keywords:same-sex marriage heteronormativity gay men in Shanghai

Paper type:Published