Issue Five: Creative Resistance: Queer Activism in China

January 28, 2018


Our fifth issue explores the multiple forms of queer activism in Contemporary China. We are interested in how queer activists across China creatively and strategically engage a variety of platforms to raise awareness and promote understanding of queer issues and advance LGBTQ+ justice in China.


We asked our contributors to share their thoughts on the many ways through which queer activists organise, build communities, and engage social media, film, literature as well as legal channels to fight for LGBTQ+ recognition and rights.


In part one, Hongwei Bao reflects on the place of 'fear' in queer politics in transnational China. Sharing some of his thoughts on our upcoming Fear of a Queer China research workshop, Bao provides an overview of the current predicaments inside and outside queer activism in China, the work done to date, and the work that lies ahead.

Part two, written by Lucetta YL Kam, takes a look at les+, a pioneering lala (lesbian, bisexual, and trans) magazine that was in operation in China between 2005 and 2012. One of the most creative and influential queer projects in China in recent years, Kam argues that les+ not only represented a powerful form of community building but also a particular kind of queer aesthetics that offered new opportunities to imagine gender, sexuality and futures beyond the limited present.


In part three, Naying Ren considers the much neglected issue of ethnicity in China's feminist and queer movement. Ren considers why it is that the particular experiences of queer people from ethnic minority backgrounds have not received more attention from the broader Han-dominated LGBTQ+ community and argues that a more intersectional practice is the way forward.


In part four, Yanzi Peng talks about his experience of undergoing 'gay conversion therapy' in order to take a stand against the practice and take a case to court. He describes his ordeal in detail, the broader impact of 'gay conversion therapy' on the LGBT community, as well as some the challenges and successes in working to pursue justice through legal channels.


In part five of this issue, Siodhbhra Parkin offers her insights on how LGBTQ+ people in China use international legal channels to advance their rights. She provides a number of case studies to illuminate the significance of this approach in Chinese queer activism, and how and why this process has played out to date.


Part six, written by HC Zhuo, looks at the development of trans movements in China since 2016. From growing media representation, to research and reports, to newly established trans advocacy groups, HC argues that while trans movements in China are still in their infancy, they are growing fast.


In the final part of this issue, written by Emmanuel Lazzara, reflects on 'coming out' as an act of queer activism. He discusses some of the particular socio-cultural challenges of 'coming out' in contemporary China as well as its potential to promote greater awareness and visibility of LGBTQ+ experiences.










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