I'm inspired to write about the gay scene in China after reading a recent question on this forum from a gay foreign traveler who was asking if it was possible for his husband of nine months (married outside of China) to get a spousal visa when they came to live in China. And I nearly spat my coffee on my desk. Not that this is a funny question, cause it's not, but at the same time, in the context of how far China has to go for legislation honoring gay marriage—well, it's definitely going to take some time. Of course, general homophobia is not constrained to just China. The US is slowly getting on board with California finally legalizing gay marriages, but for the most part, even in the US, homophobia has not yet worked it's way out of the value systems of the majority. Okay, back to being gay in China: in cosmopolitan cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing, there is a bit of a gay scene. This teeny tiny scene is not going to rival Sydney, Rio or Cape Town, but at least there is a gay scene—more than the smaller cities in China, where gay men are married to women and are cloistered fathers to 1.0 children. (More after the jump... ) First of all, I am not gay, but the majority of my friends in Shanghai are fully flaming. So I guess that makes me a fag hag. But at any rate, I get to hear a never ending stream of information about the life of gays in China. It's the opposite of the "vagina monologues". More like the "anti-vagina monologues". [pullquote]Shanghai is the most sexually progressive city in China.[/pullquote]I would hazard a guess that Shanghai is the most sexually progressive city in China. With it's reputation as "the Whore of the Orient" and "Sin City", Shanghai is known for being open-minded when it comes to sex and fun times. I've seen a number of my friends who've arrived in this city firmly lodged in the closet, only to throw the doors wide open after a few weeks and get down with their gay selves. So while China may be a bit conservative when it comes to homosexuality, Shanghai, at least, is a place where pretty much anything goes.
Gay bars and clubs in Shanghai
In Shanghai, there are a handful of gay clubs and bars frequented by both Chinese and foreigners, but they are hard to keep up with for several reasons (see our list of popular Shanghai gay bars and clubs below). The biggest and most popular gay club, Club Deep, was shut down in 2007 indefinitely. The shut-down was rumored to be for drugs, but rumors also circulated that it was because of all the crowds of shirtless and sexy homos. After Club Deep closed down, another club called LC opened up, but one week after opening, it was shut down for a while, for drugs, and has since closed. The point I am trying to make is that these busts specifically on gay clubs, suggest that China is not yet comfortable dancing happily under the rainbow banner. While China's gay clubs might have trouble with drugs, Chinese people in general don't seem to be the type to gay bash, like you might find in Western countries. As long as you aren't hurting anyone, you're pretty safe in China.
Chinese girls in denial
And what do Chinese girls think of all these handsome, gay foreign devils? Well first of all, Chinese girls have terrible gaydar and it seems like a lot don't really believe in gay. [pullquote]Chinese girls have terrible gaydar and it seems like a lot don't really believe in gay.[/pullquote] When a friend of mine, teaching English to university students, was asked after one year by a favorite female student if he liked Chinese girls, he responded that he actually preferred Chinese men. She looked shocked and then disbelieving. And finally, she declared that she simply did not believe him. He may think he is gay, but she definitely knew better. To her, there was no such thing as gay and if a man entertained such notions, it would just be a matter of time before he fell head over gay heels in love with the right woman. It seems that a lot of Chinese girls are not put off when they meet a handsome foreign guy who declares himself to be a homosexual. Ha ha, don't worry, he'll eventually come around. Trust me, girls, I feel your pain, but I know enough homos to have given up entertaining hopes that they'll fall irresistibly in love with my charms and drop their facades of incredible gayness...
Gay men and the Internet
And sometimes, just sometimes, when I am sitting home on a rainy Friday night stroking my Persian cat, watching re-runs of "Sex and the City" and wishing I had a date—I envy gay men everywhere for their use of the Internet. Even if you don't like to go to bars and are too shy to go up and talk to someone, you always can just sit at home with a cup of tea leering over photos of shirtless men on your computer screen who live in your city and want to meet you in person on sites like Beijing, hit the dance floor or relax on the comfy couches at Beijing's favorite gay bar, Hong Kong is Propaganda with its exciting vibe and loud music. A little further down Hollywood Road, Amber Mizerak. Got any recommendations or updates for these or any other gay bars, clubs or groups in other Chinese cities? Tell us about them in the comments section below.)
Gay bars and clubs (Shanghai):
G8 (formerly Frangipani) 399 Dagu Lu, near Shimen Lu, Jing'an District 上海静安区大沽路399号 Tel: (86 21) 5375 0084 Eddy's Bar 1877 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Tianping Lu, Xuhui District 徐汇区淮海中路1877号, 近天平路 Tel: (86 21) 6282 0521 Shanghai Studio Bldg 4, 1950 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Wukang Lu, LuWan District 淮海中路1950弄4号楼, 近武康路 Tel: 021 6283 1043 Transit Lounge 141 Tai An Road, near Huashan Road, Xuhui District 泰安路141号,華山路 Tel: (86 21) 6283 3051 Rice Bar 532 Fahuazhen Lu, near Dingxi Lu, Changning District 长宁区法华镇路532号, 近定西路 Tel: (86 ) 159 2110 9881 Upstairs 842 Hengshan Lu, near Tianping Lu, Xuhui District 衡山路842号, 近天平路 Tel: (86 21) 5466 0842
Gay bars and clubs (Beijing):
Destination 7 Gongti Xilu, Chaoyang District 工体西路7号, 朝阳区 Tel: (86 10) 6552 8180 SoBear B112, West Tower, Shangdu SOHO, 8 Dongdaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区东大桥路8号SOHO尚都西座B112 Tel: (86) 159 1050 8964 Mesh First floor The Opposite House, 11 Sanlitun Lu, Building 1, Sanlitun Village, Chaoyang District 朝阳区三里屯路11号 Tel: (86 10) 6417 6688 Jujiao Yanyi Bar (聚焦演艺酒吧) B1, The Golden Sun Hotel, 85 Xibianmennei Dajie, Xicheng District 西城区西便门内大街85号金色夏日商务酒店地下一层 Tel: (86 10) 5166 3298 Dao Le (到了) 2-102, 22 International Plaza, 32 Baiziwan Lu, Chaoyang District 朝阳区百子湾路32号二十二院街艺术区2-012 Alfa 6 Xingfu Yicun, (In hutong opposite north gate of Workers' Stadium), Chaoyang District, 朝阳区幸福一村6号工体北门对面的胡同里 Tel: (86 10) 6413 0086
Gay bars and clubs (Hong Kong):
Propaganda (or "PP" according to locals) Basement, 1 Hollywood Road, Central Tel: (852) 2868 1316 Volume Lower Ground Floor 83-85 Hollywood Road, Central Tel: (852) 2857 7683 Drop Soho Mid-Levels, Basement, On Lok Mansion, 39-43 Hollywood Road, Central Tel: (852) 2543 8856 Club 97 9 Lan Kwai Fong, Central Tel: (852) 2186 1897 The Works 1/F, 30-32 Wyndham Street, Central Tel: (852) 2868 6102 Tony's Bar G/F, 7 - 9 Bristol Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui Tel: (852) 2723 2726 New Wally Matt Bar & Lounge G/F, 5A Humphrey's Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui Tel: (852) 2721 2568