Lunar New Year Celebration – not so much for Chinese Gay Men

Valentine's Day is one of those Hallmark created holidays that I dread.  Sure if you have someone special in your life, it's great for you can celebrate your love and admiration for another.  I have several friends / couples that actually had their first date on VD and they are still going strong, some even married.  So I do hold out hope for something magical happening on that day, but I think after 40 years, I may just give up. 


New Years is another one of those days that has us traditionally being with friends, family, and that special someone.  That midnight kiss, starting off the new year with someone special and making plans for the new year is yet another tradition that I really haven't experienced. 

Christmas, a time to share gifts and cheer with loved ones.  I know my Christmas is always centered around a gathering of immediate and extended family, usually numbering in the 30's and some years 40's.  Aunts and uncles with their kids, my cousins, with their kids, and myself.  It's always great to share the holidays with family, but it's not always the best when you have no one there beside you.

All of that negativity during the holidays, that's my doing.  I haven't found the one.  I'm looking, but it just hasn't happened for me.  But at least I have the chance, the opportunity to do so. And I am doing it on my own time, my own schedule.  I wish it would happen sooner than later, but when it happens, it happens.

I am out, sort of to my extended family.  I did not proclaim it to everyone, but those family members friended on facebook of course know and that is how I chose to relay that information.  They know I write for Instinct and they see my pics from vacations, pride events, my check-ins at bars, etc.  So I've been able to avoid those "when are you getting married" questions around the holidays.  Relatives know about my sexuality, but don't make it a big deal.  I think as well me being gay may limit the "are you seeing anyone" questions, too.  It's not that they don't care, but I think it may be a little different scenario than they are used to and may be a little hesitant to get involved with. 


So, Christmas, New Years, and Valentines day, not my three favorite holidays when being single.  At least we get off from work for two of them.  Now Imagine all three holidays happening at the same time with increased pressure, maybe even ten-fold.  I am not Chinese, but that is how I perceive Chinese (Lunar) New Year.  The exchange of presents, being surrounded by family, the need to be home with loved ones, and the big question of "when are you getting married?"  The pressure to get married is not as great here in the United States as it is in China or the Chinese family. 

For many Chinese parents today, discovering that their son or daughter is homosexual is seen as a blow that could affect the family’s standing in the community. It’s also seen as reducing the chances the parents will have grandchildren, given that many families only have one child due to restrictive government family-planning policies. – The Wall Street Journal

Luckily, I came out to my parents about 13 years or so ago, a little late at 28, but that was the correct time for me.  I say luckily because I have not had to deal with the question of when will I bring home that special girl.  They haven't asked much about when will I bring home a male friend, but I am okay with that.  One of my Chinese friends, after being out for decades to his parents, still suffers from trying to be set up with a good Chinese girl, usually over a dinner date or someone just happening to be visiting his parents' home while he was over.  I think at 43, he is getting a little tired of that. 

People like Frank, a Shanghai resident in his early thirties who is originally from Jiangsu province and who asked to be identified only by his English name. Frank told his parents about his sexual orientation more than a decade ago. But, Frank said, that didn’t stop his father from giving him an ultimatum last year: get married within a year or don’t visit home ever again.

Frank did return to his hometown this year. He has allayed his parents’ fears by telling them his wedding is imminent. He didn’t tell them he plans to marry a lesbian in a marriage of convenience. In a message to CRT via social media earlier this week, Frank said he was happy to be back home, spending time with his family. “Besides marriage, I can speak to them about anything,” he wrote. – The Wall Street Journal


So even though they are out to their parents, some Chinese are still expected to go through with a traditional marriage with someone of the opposite sex?  Is the drive to maintain culture and heritage too powerful?  Does it override the happiness and wishes of their children?

A new video, produced for only $1600, has been viewed over 100 million times. If this were a music video, it would be the biggest news out there.  Instead, Coming Home is a video that addresses the issue of being gay in China, coming out to your parents, and the role parents can play.  There's even mention of China's branch of PFLAG, established in that country in 2008. 

  The video, Coming Home, tells the story of a young man who summons the courage to talk to his mom about being gay, only to be criticized and cast out. After a long period of heartache and estrangement, his mother comes around, tearfully welcoming him home. As the credits roll, real mothers speak directly to the camera, offering words of encouragement and advice to young people facing the journey.

The message to parents: “Accept your children, welcome them home.” And for children: “Don’t give up. Your parents might not understand today, but maybe they will tomorrow.” It’s a sentiment that obviously struck a chord: the video has already racked up 100 million


Watch the video below and let us know what you think. 

Does this video hit home?

For our Chinese readers, are Lunar New Year Celebrations difficult in your family even if you are out?


1 thought on “Lunar New Year Celebration – not so much for Chinese Gay Men”

  1. As a Malysian-Chinese 18 year

    As a Malysian-Chinese 18 year old who is heavily influenced by Western culture, it's different but yet again not so different. Chinese culture is a fairly conservative culture I would say, with all the traditions and customs, it's constricting to say the least. From what I have experienced and contemplated over the years, It has its gives and takes, but so does Western culture. So I'm glad have the 'privilege' to experience both worlds to a certain extent, presenting me with the flexibility to grow and discover who I want to be, picking the best of the two cultures. Since I could remember, Lunar New Year Celebrations have been an integral part of my life. As a kid, it was all about the money in the red packets you would get and all the good food and sweets we would eat. Now, when I think about it, the whole point of the Lunar New Year is to celebrate the family as a whole, or the reunion of the family. To the Chinese, these are the MOST important days of the year so no matter where you lived or how busy you were, you would put everything aside and reunite as a family. But when you involve being gay into the pot, things get a little complicated. Every year, no matter young or old, as long as you are single, you will not be spared from the "do you have a boyfriend/ girlfriend yet?" question complimented with the wedding and grandchildren chit chats. There's definitely pressure involved when you're not out, but even if you are, the pressure doesn't just vanish. Questions will surely be more awkward to ask, but they'll still be asked. Depending on how traditional and conservative the family is, things can range from general awkwardness to disowning and shattered relationships. It's definitely a unique experience to say the least!


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