Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (UNL) Conference System, 1st Non-Monogamies and Contemporary Intimacies Conference

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Non-Monogamous Experiences in Chinese Queer Comrades’ Marital Life
Jingshu Zhu

##manager.scheduler.building##: B Tower
##manager.scheduler.room##: T10
Date: 2015-09-26 04:30 PM – 06:00 PM
Last modified: 2015-08-13


In contemporary China, lesbian and gay rights movement tends to be increasingly homonormative: promoting the image of “middle-class, well-educated and well-behaved gay men” so as to calm down peoples’ anxiety about promiscuous, perverted and HIV-positive homosexuals; showcasing long-term one-on-one lesbian and gay couples who are longing for legal recognition; and criticizing the marriage swindlers (gay men who marry unwitting straight women), money boys (male-to-male sex worker) and those who prefer one-night-stand than “true love”.

Despite the mainstream discourses that praise “good comrades” (in Chinese “comrades” was parodied as referring to LGBTQ), people’s lived experiences have proven much more complexity and creativity. The experiences of some of my informants disproved the common-sense idea that non-monogamous relationships are loveless, half-hearted, insecure, incompatible with marriage, and doomed to failure and pain.

Some wider social contexts are also noteworthy. For instance, Chinese Criminal Law and Public Security Administration Punishments Law still punishes “assembled prurience”, namely sexual activities involving three or more people in the same room; the neoliberal government encourages people to return to family and traditional morals; the prevalence of dating Apps make non-conventional intimate relationships easier to establish, yet also more emotionally and politically precarious.

Against such background, I will introduce three cases involving Chinese lesbians and gay men where non-monogamous intimacies are cultivated, alongside heteronormative marriage.

1) One “Father”, Two “Sons”, and A “Wife”

2) Threesome as An Antidote for Brokeback Marriage

3) Cooperative Marriage Between A Lesbian and A Gay Man (and Their Same-Sex Partners)

By sharing these stories, I would like to discuss: Must queer relationships look confrontational to the institution of different-sex marriage? How are straight people “queered” in non-monogamous intimacies? Are these just exceptional cases, or can they open up political opportunities for those marginalized people and relationships?