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Chinese homosexual's marriage struggles under social pressure

By Tian Ying, Zhang Hui (Xinhua)

08:15, April 01, 2013

BEIJING, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Nine years into his second marriage, Yang Bin still awkwardly refers to his wife as "my date" while conversing with others. The failure to settle for a heterosexual marriage has once again saddled him with guilt and remorse.

Yang Bin (not his real name), born in 1970 in the outskirts of China's Tianjin Municipality, is now the owner of a small restaurant. He looks pale and speaks in an utterly gentle voice, his face covered with chiseled wrinkles.

Like many Chinese homosexuals, Yang has a sad story of struggling in heterosexual marriage, as China's family-centered culture accentuates one getting married and carrying on the family name, and the social tolerance for homosexuals is still limited, particularly in less-developed areas.

Yang's story unfolded when he noticed at a very young age that he was different from his peers. "I never had any special feelings for girls but my heart beat fast for boys," he says.

As Yang grew older, he realized he was gay. However, this knowledge spent a long time locked up deep in his mind, unexpressed to anyone as the sexual tendency was deemed abnormal and untenable by Chinese in the 1980s and 1990s, when homosexuality was included in the official Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders.

It wasn't until 1997, when Yang was 27, that he got his first chance to meet other homosexuals. In a park frequented by gays, a man approached and flirted with him. The experience excited Yang and the next day, he returned to the park, boldly found another man and "everything that should happen happened."

Finally falling in love and having an outlet for his long-oppressed emotion immersed Yang in happiness. But it didn't last long.

In 2001, Yang's parents repeatedly urged him to get married. With no other choice, Yang disclosed his real sexual inclination, hoping to be understood and accepted by them.

Yang recalls the evening of his coming out. Sitting with his parents in a bedroom, Yang told them, "I am gay, I don't like women," and explained how he became convinced.

But he did not convince his parents. During their talk, Yang's father kept murmuring 'not possible' and asking Yang how he became like this.

He tried to win their understanding by spelling out, "I also want to lead a normal life, but I can't help myself. Although I've been going out with a girl for four years, I never touched her hands."

However, the discussion soon descended into a fight, with his furious father roaring, "Don't try to find excuses [to break up with Yang's then girlfriend]," and Yang making the accusation to his parents that "It is your genes that made me gay," citing a hypothesis he read in a book that homosexuality is genetic.

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