The Love Boat Is Real, Gay, And Chinese

Image via PFLAG China

1,000 gay Chinese citizens and their families had a gay ol’ time on the Rainbow Cruise to Vietnam.

PFLAG China recently put together the third annual “Rainbow Cruise” event. The cruise from Shenzhen, China to Da Nang, Vietnam took place over five days. While on the ship, passengers participated in workshops like one for parents seeking to understand and accept their gay children, talks like a conversation on self-love for LGBTQ people, and activities like speed dating. While the main focus of the trip was the celebrate LGBTQ life for Chinese citizens and to have fun, there was also a lot of room for serious discussion of issues within the community and country. Then the inclusion of families members added even more to the table.

While homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997, and no longer considered a mental disorder since 2001, there is still a negative atmosphere around gay life. This is mostly because of the conservative government placing a hold on LGBTQ people openly expressing their sexualities or gender identities in public.

While the country insists it has a live and let live mentality, in actuality the government censors LGBTQ content in movies, tv, and the internet while also prohibiting LGBTQ people (and allies) from gathering in large public groups.

That said, LGBTQ life still continues to exist and resist in the country. Not only is China home to the two largest gay dating apps in the world, Blued and Grindr (now that the latter is approved to be owned by a Chinese company), but there are several vibrant gay scenes and communities in the country. PFLAG Chinas’s “Rainbow Cruise” is evidence of this.

“Many gay people cannot be their true selves because of discrimination, so we want to create an environment where they can at least experience being themselves for a little bit,” said PFLAG China’s executive director Hu Zhijun to the South China Morning Post on the mission of the event.

And it seems that the five-day cruise delivered that environment and so much more for the LGBTQ passengers and their families. Or as one passenger, who chose not to be named, told SCMP, it was “like a uptopia.”

“It’s the only place in China where you don’t have to stay in the closet,” he said.

Here’s to that hopefully changing in the future.

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