China’s LGBTI community are flocking to more rainbow-friendly cities in Asia to vacation and be free to be open with their sexuality.
There are about 70 million LGBTI people living in mainland China, but because it is still taboo, many can’t live openly.
The 2016 China LGBT Community Report revealed many mainland Chinese LGBTI people are jetting off to cities such as, Bangkok, Taipei and Hong Kong to let their hair down.
Enjoying the cities’ LGBTI scenes is just one reason Chinese people visit them. Many LGBTI people go to Thailand to stock up on the HIV preventative medication PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) or to have gender-affirming surgery.
Sam is a studen in Shenzhen often heads to Hong Kong to hang out with his surrogate LGBTI family.
‘The reason I keep coming back to Hong Kong is because I feel more comfortable here – like I can finally live my real life,’ he told the South China Morning Post.
‘Plus my friends and family on the mainland hardly visit, so I don’t have to be scared of being recognised.
‘Maybe in future, when I have a job and can hopefully move to Hong Kong, I might come out to them.’
Empowerment in travel
Hong Kong psychologist Dr Michael Eason, specializes in LGBT issues.
He told SCMP it was ‘validating and empowering’ for LGBTI people to spend time somewhere accepting of their gender and sexuality.
‘A lot of [LGBT people from the mainland] have to live a double life where they’re not able to be out to family, especially parents, because in China there’s such an emphasis on having children to carry on the family name,’ he said.
‘Psychologically, it causes an extra layer of stress, having to live with this dual identity.’