China: Change Afoot for LGBT Parents and Children?

The atmosphere in China is far from LGBT-friendly, but activists are working for change and seeing the U.S. as a model.

BY Alex Davidson

October 15 2013 3:46 PM ET

Most media attention given to LGBT families is focused on couples and children in the United States, but there are millions of families with LGBT parents or children living abroad, and yet very little is written about what it’s like to be the parent of an LGBT child in other countries. In China, for instance, the nation’s one-child policy puts unique pressures on these children and their parents.

Marsha Aizumi, a member of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays’ national board of directors and mother of a transgender son, wrote this month in The Huffington Post about her trip to Fuzhou, China, to speak to LGBT youth and their parents at the PFLAG China conference. The article is a rare look at what it’s like for these young people and their families in a country with a spotty human rights record.

In a country that will only allow a family to have one child, parents worry that their LGBT child will not only face extreme discrimination but will not find love or have anyone to take care of them in their later years. In China, as in many other Asian countries, children take care of their parents, so these parents would ask me, "Who will take care of my child when they get older? How can my child live a happy and fulfilled life if they are LGBT?"

Aizumi also discussed how her visit helped Chinese activists see the possibility of progress in their country, with the United States as the example:

And as we talked, I could see their concentration narrow, their eyes become very focused, but their hearts seemed to open up to take in all the information about the progress we are making in the U.S. I realized at that moment that they were looking to us for signs that the world is changing. I understood that our progress is their hope for their children and their families. And I became aware that China is watching us closely and believing that our evolution can be their future.

PFLAG, one of the country’s oldest nonprofit LGBT-related organizations, has more than 200,000 members and supporters and 350 domestic affiliates. The organization keeps in touch with and advises similar groups abroad and regularly meets with foreign LGBT activists when they visit the United States. PFLAG China, unaffiliated with the U.S. PFLAG organization, is headed by Ah Qiang, a gay man who sold his business to become an activist.

China does not recognize same-sex marriage or other rights afforded to LGBT folks in other countries. There are rumblings, however, that the country’s attitude toward LGBT rights is changing. There are unlikely to be changes in the nation’s adoption policy, though — same-sex couples and LGBT individuals are barred from adopting Chinese children.

Contact reporter Alex Davidson on Twitter at Twitter.com/adwildcat.
 

Tags: China, PFLAG, Families

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