A controversial new report claims that roughly 16 million Chinese women are married to gay men due to cultural pressure—that means that 9 out of every 10 gay men tie the knot with a woman. "Their wives are struggling to cope and their plight should be recognized," the professor behind the study told China Daily. His platform bothers some Chinese gay rights activists, who think the study oversimplifies the issue and perhaps even makes it worse. "To put gays' wives under the spotlight might cause more public misunderstanding or even hatred toward the gay population, which does not help defuse existing social discrimination against them," said Xiao Dong, a gay civil rights organizer. He added that the estimation is unsubstantiated and that he feels "it's pointless to research the issue."
But if the study is true and a staggering 90 percent of gay men feel that they have to marry women, shouldn't the issue be broached? And it's unfair to say their wives should stay silent. Luckily there are women like Xiao Yao, a 29-year-old who divorced her gay husband in 2008 and started a website called "Homeland of gays' wives," which has over 1,000 registered users seeking support and advice. "Most gay men's wives I've known are silently suffering at the hands of husbands who could never love them, and like me, some even got abused by husbands who were also under great pressure," she said.
Then there's the gay man told the newspaper that he avoided coming out to his family by marrying someone who understands what he's going through: a lesbian. He said there were online matchmaking services to help gay people wed each other, and that the two "can keep going with our own lifestyle more honestly." The couple sounds happier than those pressured to marry someone of a different sexual preference, but their situation is still far from ideal—hopefully the study will prompt more of a national discourse regarding gay rights.