A recent trend in China has been the rise of Xinghun weddings where a gay man will marry a lesbian and a new app called iHomo is making it easier for them to find each other.
Chinese gays and lesbians marry each other to ease the pressure from families and even employers about marriage.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in China in 1997, but same-sex couples are not permitted to marry and society generally disapproves of their relationships.
Specialised Xinghun wedding fairs and dating sites attract many LGBTI people looking for opposite sex partners to enter into a marriage of convenience.
The biggest Xinghun dating site Chinagayles.com has about 390,000 registered users and has matched 25,000 couples.
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But a new app, iHomo, launched last year is rapidly becoming the most popular way for LGBTI people to meet.
Xiaobai Ou and her girlfriend Yi Zhi launched the app last year after Ou herself had a Xinghun wedding.
‘Marriage and having children all seems to be taken for granted in China. My parents are no exception,’ Xiaobai told TechNode.
‘They began to urge me to get married. In order to appease my family, I chose Xinghun.
‘We had a wedding ceremony in 2012, which was fairly smooth. My girlfriend was my bridesmaid and make-up artist at the wedding.’
Ou originally lived with her husband but after a year moved in with her girlfriend Yi.
‘My husband is now a good friend of mine, and we go out together to eat and chat. When things come up, we help each other,’ she said.
Xiaobai recognized the gap in the market and developed the app to make it easier for gays and lesbians to meet.
‘Coming out is very hard and we shouldn’t expect too many people to do this is in a short period of time. In fact, it could bring more harm to the LGBT community,’ she said.
‘We believe that any form of choice must be related to the social status quo, and Xinghun is a relatively moderate approach.’
As the site builds its membership base it will begin adding more services beyond its Xinghun matchmaking.
‘After the platform has reached a certain level, and the development of Chinese homosexual groups to a certain stage, we will provide more practical services,’ Xiabao said.
‘Not just marriage services around homosexual groups, but also employment, rent, pension and other homosexual groups’ needs.’