Chinese pro volleyball player Sun Wenjing has come out about her relationship with a woman, becoming one of the few out athletes in the nation, which has recently stepped up its repression of LGBTQ+ people.
“She doesn’t need to do anything, but I am surrendered time and again. She is the whole part of me, for one year and another,” Sun wrote of her partner on the social media platform Weibo last Thursday. Her partner, although pictured with Sun, was identified only as “Mrs. Sun,” the South China Morning Post reports.
The date of the post, September 9, “is regarded by the Chinese as a symbol of eternity and often selected by couples to register their marriage,” the publication notes.
LGBTQ+ people in China encounter much discrimination, and the nation does not allow same-sex marriage. The Chinese government has begun deleting social media posts by LGBTQ+ groups and denouncing what it calls “sissy” culture.
Sun, who plays for a volleyball team in Beijing, has received 48,000 likes on her post and 4,000 comments, mostly positive. “You are brave. I don’t know when I and my lover can act like you and your girlfriend in public, by not hiding our sex orientation at all,” one commenter wrote.
But some comments were homophobic. “Although I respect your choice, it is not correct guidance for juveniles,” a user typed.
Only a few media outlets in mainland China covered Sun’s coming-out, and at least one took the story down shortly after it was published, according to the Post, which is based in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China that has resisted some of the Chinese government’s oppressive moves.
Other well-known Chinese athletes who have come out include soccer star Li Ying, who came out as a lesbian in June in a Weibo post celebrating the one-year anniversary of her relationship with her girlfriend, and surfer Xu Jingsen, a gay man who came out ahead of the Gay Games in Paris in 2018. Li was believed to be the first out lesbian athlete in China and Xu the first out gay male one. Li took her anniversary post down after receiving many homophobic comments.