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Parents of gay China launch free anonymous national helpline

Nationwide helpline reaches out to isolated parents and children struggling with coming out
Lu Rong, or Auntie Ou, author of Those Gay Children of Mine

A lifeline for Chinese parents, who are often isolated and confused when their children come out, was launched this week by PFLAG China (Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays). Calls will be answered by mothers who understand what parents go through when their child first tells them that they are gay.

Lu Rong, a spiritual auntie to gay people in China who wrote a book called Those Gay Children of Mine, will answer calls in Beijing. She befriended a group of gay men online when she found a blog post from a young man about his difficulties coming out to his mother, she then wrote her book about their stories to help parents better understand their gay children.

Answering the calls in Shanghai will be Mui, a mother of a gay child. 'When my child came out of the closet to me, I experiences a process of struggle,' she said. 'So I can understand what parents feel. I will listen to the caller and give honest advice.'

As well as listening to the concerns of parents who call the line, the helpline will also be there for gay people who are having problems coming out to their parents. ‘So many gays or lesbians have questions about how to come out to their parents,’ executive director of the helpline, Ah Qiang told Gay Star News. ‘And parents want to speak to other parents of gay children to know how to receive their children and to ask about the lives of LGBT people. Most parents, when they hear their child is gay or lesbian, think they are the only ones.’

Coming out to their parents is usually the biggest obstacle to living open lives for Chinese gay men and women, because of the emphasis on filial piety. It is hoped that the helpline, that is free and anonymous, will ease the pressure on parents and their children.

The helpline (4000 820 211) will be open three evenings a week, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8.30 to 10pm. From March, professional counsellors will answer the line from 3pm to 5pm on Sundays.

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