Gay Chinese men aged between 25 and 29 are eight times more likely to have feelings of loneliness than those under 20.
New research by the University of Hawaii found men in this age group felt increasingly criticized and rejected.
China legalized gay sex in 1997 and removed it from the list of mental illnesses in 2001.
But, in a conservative and family-orientated society, many LGBTI Chinese live in the closet. Same-sex marriage is also illegal.
Researchers quizzed 367 gay men in China.
They asked a number of questions to gauge loneliness. They also asked about anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.
Researchers also found men who had disclosed their sexual identity to others felt less lonely.
Men who were an only-child or earned less than average, however, were more likely to feel lonely.
Family pressure affects loneliness
The survey’s authors said gay men in this age group were more likely to be working.
Individuals may, therefore, face discrimination at work. Or, being in the closet at work may cause stress and anxiety.
What’s more, by that age, Chinese men may feel more pressure to find a wife and start a family.
‘Traditional Chinese culture puts a strong emphasis on family inheritance and reproduction,’ said co-author Thomas Lee.
‘Our results suggest that we need to be more aware of Chinese gay men’s mental health and that everyone, especially family members, should offer more support to Chinese gay men and work to create a social environment that is more open and inclusive.’