There is nothing more heartwarming than a loving parent of an LGBTQ person. And, there’s nothing more upsetting than when that parent is wronged.
In Shanghai, there is a little tradition that happens at People’s Square Park in the Huangpu District.
Ever since 2004, parents have gathered at the park to have a “Marriage Market.” There, parents of young single people will get together to exchange fliers with their kids’ details. They do this hoping to arrange relationships for their beloved children. The protocol is that parents will line up behind a row of umbrellas and decorate their umbrella with fliers about their child.
Courtesy of SixthTone
In the more than ten years that this ritual has been happening, no large group of parent ever advocated for their LGBTQ kids… until this past Saturday.
Organizations like PFLAG and Rela, a social and dating app for lesbians, got together and formed an eleven-person group of parents who wanted to put their kids up on the market. They grabbed a bunch of rainbow umbrellas and joined the other parents, but were soon met with adversity.
Onlooking strangers felt the need to express their disgust at the parents and their children. The PFLAG participants were told that their children were “abnormal.”
“What they’re doing here is illegal, they’re fraudsters. LGBT issues shouldn’t be a public display. Their choice is wrong and is against Chinese values,” said one onlooker as reported by SixthTone.com.
Eventually police showed up and escorted the group out of the park for the reasoning that they “didn’t have a permit to demonstrate.”
“If parents of straight people can be here, parents of gay people can also be here,” said Dong Wanwan, a mother and one of the eleven, “We have every right to be here—I’m here to find a boyfriend for my son.”
Also, Xia Danning who’s 63 and mother to lesbian daughter said, “There’s still a long battle ahead. Today’s event wasn’t successful, but I’m sure we’ll find another way.”
All of this shows the hostility LGBT people and their loved ones still have to go through in modern China. Though homosexuality is no longer illegal in the country, it is still a very taboo subject in open forums. Plenty of people support LGBTQ lives online, but it is march harder to even talk about them in person.
In fact, polls have shown that only 3% of queer Chinese men, and 6% of women, say they are “fully out.” Many of the rest are closeted and married to opposite-sex partners.