Gay Men in China Just Need to Get Themselves a Lesbian Wife

In a culture that values family and continuing the blood line arguably more than anything, for gay Chinese, coming out carries another dimension of breaking the societal norm. In order to adhere to Chinese concepts of family and duty, an increasing amount of gay Chinese men are turning to an alternate form of marriage— marrying lesbian women.

According to Zhang Beichuan, a professor at Qingdao University's Medical School who specializes in gay issues, there are an estimated 20 million gay and bisexual men in China. 80 percent of them have married straight women, which means that around 16 million heterosexual women have married gay men. Because these types of marriages were either the result of deceit or secretly agreed-upon arrangements, it was a largely unspoken issue, until last June when a bride-to-be in the Sichuan Province jumped to her death after it was revealed that her husband was gay.

The cultural implications of opting out of procreating in China are coupled with the country's strict One Child policy. In China, you can't get a permit to have a kid, and if you do end up making a baby out of wedlock, you can't register your bastard child for a Chinese identification card. For gays who want to have children, the policy makes staying single or in a gay relationship, which the government doesn't recognize, impossible.

Instead of finding heterosexual partners, gay Chinese men have been seeking out xinghun, meaning "cooperative marriage," between a gay man and a lesbian woman. The idea of xinghun has become so popular that an entire website has been created dedicated to matching gay men and lesbian women. Established in 2005, Chinagayles.com has over 160,000 registered members. It's the OK Cupid for single gay Chinese, complete with occupation and monthly income, only instead of finding other gays or lesbians, the site matches you to a suitable partner for a sham marriage.

But with little to no options for maintaining strict cultural norms/having a legal baby, websites like Chinagayles.com provide one of the only ways for gays and lesbians in China to check off the list of societal obligations expected of them.

[The Atlantic]