By Darren Gan February 13, 2015
China LGBT Awareness Campaign has launched a public announcement declaring Love is Not a Choice on February 13, 2015, right before Valentine’s Day which garnered widespread attention on the country’s social media.
By showing photos of their everyday lives, six LGBT couples demonstrated their love by loudly claiming that love is not about choices. In a concerted effort, volunteers in 8 cities in China will be offering free roses to people to seek support for sexual minorities.
There are more than 60 million LGBT people living in China. This amount is equal to the number of people in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in total.
Because of enormous social pressure and widespread discrimination , many Chinese LGBT people remain deeply in the closet. According to incomplete statistics from a gay men’s social networking app Zank, only 15.4% of the gay men come out to their parents. 84.6% of the gay men stay in closet and their parents do not know about the sexual orientation of their children at all. One can imagine the situation is similar among lesbians.
LGBT individuals will face tremendous pressure to get married during the upcoming Chinese New Year when many who live and work elsewhere return to their family home. This tremendous pressure gives birth to so-called nominal marriages (where a lesbian and a gay man setup a sham marriage to hide their sexual orientation).
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s coming out did not have a negative impact on his career. But the 60 million gay people in China are not so lucky. Not long ago, a gay man involved in the ‘little red hat’ incident which had gone viral online got fired after his identity was exposed. It is no wonder that very few people make their sexual orientation public in the workplace (6.29%, according to Online Survey Report on the Work Environment for China’s LGBT Community by Aibai Culture and Education Center).
LGBT students in schools are also facing pressures. According to another Aibai survey , 77% of the respondents experienced bullying of all kinds on the basis of sexual orientations and gender identities on campus. 59% of them were physically or mentally hurt, and their lives and studies were affected.
China LGBT Awareness Campaign says this action is intended to raise society’s attention on LGBT people and to combat discrimination. There are lesbian couples, gay couples and straight couples in the advertisement, to show the audience that every couple is natural when their love comes through the images. This natural love has nothing to do with their age, appearance, gender or sexual orientation.
“Fortunately, the world is big enough for all of us.” The voices from the people convey warmth and hope. However, we should realize that only through great effort will this vision be achieved.
This campaign is spread though social media only at the present.