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Ted Koppel Looks at One Part of Gay China


In part two of his Koppel on Discovery series called "The People’s Republic of Capitalism," Ted Koppel interviewed a drag performer in China. While gay people are not able to fully express themselves politically (as in a gay pride march), according to the man Koppel interviews, gays are becoming more accepted socially and his father was able to accept him. He does, however, expect that he'll have to be married to a woman someday.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

(via cinequeer)

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  1. "He does, however, expect that he'll have to be married to a woman someday."


    I'm certain there's plenty of American Pearl Clutchers and Stepford Fags who can relate ;)

    Posted by: Chas | Jul 15, 2008 4:59:06 PM

  2. Because, you know, China doesn't have enough people so it is very important for him to marry a woman and procreate.

    Posted by: peterparker | Jul 15, 2008 5:46:16 PM

  3. I think it's more appropriate to say China is RETURNING to its old, open-minded views of homosexuality, because prior to the arrival of the West and its values, it was acceptable to be gay.

    Posted by: crass | Jul 15, 2008 6:09:26 PM

  4. holy eggrolls... you mean this guy's a drag queen and he's going to have to stick his chopsticks into a bowl of sushi? yuck, honey, i couldn't get out of there fast enough flower drum style on a slow boat to san francisco...

    Posted by: the queen | Jul 15, 2008 6:24:11 PM

  5. I think it's fascinating that he might one day return to a heterosexual life. I can totally understand our liberal western aversion to such a thought, but I imagine the sense of heritage and family lines are much more significant in their cohesive homogenous culture than it is in our "melting pot" of lost traditions.

    Posted by: Jon | Jul 15, 2008 7:06:31 PM

  6. Did they really say, "It's as though coming out of the closet is much more of a passing phase..."? Oy - Maybe it's that either narrative does a terrible job of encapsulating the very complicated decisions and mix of pressures and desires that people in any society have. Although I started being gay identified with friends when I was 13 (25 years ago), from friends who had straight relationships and "closeted" lives - i've learned that it's not as simple as a linear process. All the interview subject here seems to be saying is that he suspects he may get married and procreate. A more in-depth news piece might have examined whether older gay men in China are married, and have children, but still are gay-identified and socialize in gay circles, instead of pulling out the dusty old canard of "a passing phase" - which is so deeply insulting.
    Who writes this stuff? How do they decide to drop off into pitiful cliche, instead of reasonably examining it, looking rationally, and trying to explicate for the audience? Do they really think that in the West, once someone is out they sever all ties to their former identity? (Probably -- and probably despite all evidence involving their gay friends or personal experience.) And, then, in turn, would they really expect that such a weird social custom as "coming out of the closet" would translate perfectly into other cultures, when it barely begins to cover the gamut of configurations and identities here? And, then, do they really think that their subject is describing a phase, and that it's okay to pull out old McCarthy-era repressive crap that's been proven to be a tired stereotype. Oy.... Then again, I guess we should feel happy they're bothering to cover this at all...?
    Although, it's a little shocking that they call the series "The People's Republic of Capitalism" (even aside from the other old stereotype that homosexuality is a sign of decadent capitalism)... Can you imagine if a major television news agency ran a series called "The United States of Capitalism" ? Or "The Communist States of America" ? I have a hunch that would ruffle some very offended feathers over here.

    Posted by: Matt | Jul 15, 2008 11:26:35 PM

  7. Matt - I've lived in China on and off for four years, and two summers ago worked in Shanghai as an intern for one of China's four or five gay rights attorneys. From my experience, I can say that this piece was actually pretty well researched and accurate. The vast majority of older gay men in China *are* married with children, and don't "still" associate publicly (or privately) with gay circles because none of them ever did in their youth in the first place. Its only in the last decade that Chinese men seem to have been able to express their homosexuality openly to any significant extent, and most of them do eventually tend to get married and have kids -- though it is not uncommon for the wife to know about her husband's homosexuality, and the marriage is often more of an economic arrangement. So yes, unfortunately for this guy and many like him, his status as a man not in a heterosexual marriage with children probably is a passing phase.

    Posted by: Fredo | Jul 16, 2008 8:16:15 AM

  8. Anyone who reads any Chinese news paper or forum knows that the Chinese people feel misunderstood by the West. I'm not sure whether they would find the title of this series insulting, as they are indeed a different breed of communism, and perhaps the capitalism qualifier simply implies their competitive spirit, growth and position in the global market.

    I also remember an article from last year, where a Hong Kong court ruled against a sodomy law. Perhaps China is more progressive than this story makes it to be, it seems as if the idea of returning to the closet for Chinese gay men is based on their traditions more than anything else, just like it was pointed out by others here.

    Posted by: Rafael | Jul 16, 2008 8:33:00 AM

  9. oh now i get it, you mean china is just like here -- the gays get married and have children and just call themselves "straight" aka the downlo crowd... silly me...

    Posted by: the queen | Jul 16, 2008 10:33:56 AM

  10. "Can you imagine if a major television news agency ran a series called 'The United States of Capitalism'?"

    I don't get your point -- like this country has cared about anything else since at least 1980?

    Posted by: Bill W | Jul 16, 2008 11:07:16 AM

  11. The Chinese government and Chinese culture both have two conflicting pressures both driven by their One-Child policy; the need for an heir to provide continuity for the family and support to their elders, and the radical imbalance between the numbers of men and women in recent generations. The need to have a son under One-Child has resulted in a massive numerical-overhang of male children to female children...many of whom now have no opportunity to find wives.

    The Chinese government may have no alternative to accepting homosexuality in the future just based on demographics just to preserve social order. Another generation or two of One-Child and they may have to start openly encouraging male homosexulaity...or address the gender imbalance.

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | Jul 16, 2008 1:27:30 PM

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