Phoenix TV, China, showcases a gay family

Source: A posting made on SiGNeL – People Like Us’ GLBT email group – by “Kris” on 1 June 2008, referring to a TV program that was made some months earlier

China is so much more enlightened than Singapore

Came across these videos on a documentary shown on China’s Fenghuang Dianshi (Phoenix TV) some time before March 2007.

Part 1 is here:
http://www.56.com/w26/play_album-aid-4902491_vid-MTYyODI3MzQ.html

Part 2 is here:
http://www.56.com/w26/play_album-aid-4902491_vid-MTYyODE5NDM.html

These were recorded from “Lu Yu You Yue”, or ‘A Date With Lu Yu – Tell Us Your Story’.  Lu Yu is a famous female talk show host in China. The show is in Mandarin, with Chinese sub-titles.  My apologies to those who do not understand Chinese/Mandarin…

Baiscally, the entire show focuses on the lives, love, trials and tribulations of Li Lunzuo and Ju Jiazhong.  Li was born into a farming family in Chengdu, while Ju was born in Chongqing.  Both of them were born 10+ days apart in March 1956.

They first met each other in Chengdu on 12 Mar 1985, at a lake near the Wenhua Laodong Gong (Cultural Labour Centre).  The lake is a popular local gay hangout then.  Ju made the first move by asking to borrow a lighter from Li.

They found the ideal partner in each other, and have since been together for 21 years at the time the show was recorded.  They had also celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary in 2006, after having gotten married a year after meeting.

Their marriage was not a legal union since China does not recognise same-sex marriage.  There was no witness for the ceremony – it was just the two of them, with – I quote – “the blue sky, white clouds, green hills and emerald waters” as their witnesses (the location was a reservoir area).  They made their own marriage certificate and wrote their own marriage vows on it.  There were no rings exchanged, but rather, “a sincere exhange of each other’s true heart”.

Next, they decided to start their own business as a means of livelihood.  They set up a shop selling art and handicrafts. Li is more outspoken, dorminant and decisive, and is the person overall in charge of the business.  Ju looks fierce, manly and authoritative, but is actually more submissive, meticulous, soft-spoken and pays attention to details.  He helps to run the business but is the main
person taking care of domestic matters.

In 1990, under the pressure of Li’s dad (who only has grand-daughters so far), they agreed to adopt the 12-year-old son of Li’s distant cousin. Together, Li and Ju brought up Li Liangjun, who subsequently renamed himself Li Lei.  The Chinese character of ‘lei’ consists of three ‘shi’ (rock).  He feels that his adopted parents are the two large rocks below, supporting him as the third rock on top/in the middle. [How touching!!]

Li Lei calls Li ‘father’ (ba ba) and Ju ‘uncle’ (shu shu).  He adopted those terms on his own, and was not taught how he should address his parents.  At the time of filming, Li Lei was 28 and helps to run the family business.

Li Lei is a university graduate, is heterosexual and has been dating girls since his school days.  He said that when choosing a wife, the first criteria is that she must accept both his parents whole-heartedly as a same-sex couple.

He found that special person, Xiao Ju, and married her in October 2006. For the tea ceremony, Li Lei insisted that both Li and Ju be on stage with his in-laws, instead of his biological parents.

Ju was hesitant at first as he was worried that it may cause discomfort to the guests and problems for Li Lei and his wife in future.  In the end, Li convinced him to just do it, so as to give the new couple his blessings.  The reception by and reaction of the guests was surprisingly great.

Presently, Li Lei and his wife lives with the two of them.  She follows Li Lei’s form of addressing them, and is very understanding and respects them very much.

Li Lei added that in his heart, Li has been performing the role of a father while Ju, that of a mother.  When he has his own children in the future, they will call both Li and Ju ‘paternal grand-father’ (ye ye).

*******************************************************************

Given the situation in the mid-80s and early 90s, I think it was very, very brave of Li and Ju to take on the unconventional steps of marriage, living together and adoption.  I figure they must have been worried over facing up to the pressure and stress from family members, friends, neighbours, colleagues and society in general.

In the end, they proved their distractors wrong and became a model couple.  Who says same-sex couples cannot last long together?  And who says same-sex couples cannot bring up well-adjusted children?  Far from breaking down the basic social fabric, Li and Ju have instead helped their adopted son set up his own conventional family.

At the start of the show, Lu Yu urged the audience and all at home watching to be kind, open-minded and tolerant.  Li and Ju were understandably nervous at first.  However, throughout the whole show, the studio audience was supportive and encouraging, applauding them now and again.  Lu Yu appropriately wrapped up the show by saying that love transcends and is all-encompassing, regardless of age, social status, race, as well as sex.

I also noticed that at the web site where the videos were posted, other users have left supportive messages blessing Li, Ju and their family.

I suppose such a feature/story angle will never see the light of day on Singapore TV or even cable!  And even if someone wants to do such a show, will there be anyone who is willing to be interviewed/featured on national TV?  In this sense, Singapore is really such a backward country compared to China, isn’t it?

To think that the government always quotes “conservative asian values” as its reasons/validations against decriminalisation of gay sex and support of a “homosexual lifestyle” etc. etc.  Ironically, it looks like the other Asian countries (including Japan and China) have moved on and progressed, while we are still stuck in the Dark Ages…. *Sigh*

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