A version of “Coming Home” with subtitles.
A short film depicting two parents’ coming to terms with their son’s homosexuality has gone viral in China, garnering over 100 million views on QQ, a popular video streaming site in China.
Once classified as a “mental illness,” homosexuality has been legal in China for almost twenty years. Same sex marriage remains illegal, however, and the cultural emphasis on continuing family lines has placed a stigma on homosexual behavior.
Titled “Coming Home”, the six-minute film shows a young gay man who, despite loving his parents, feels pressured by them to be attracted to women. As the credits run, mothers of LGBT children tell viewers not to be afraid of approaching their parents about their sexual orientation and urge parents to be supportive.
“Don’t think of the love of your parents as a burden,” says one, while another one says: “Be brave and be yourself. Tell your parents your experiences, and we will share with you.” Another mother says over rolling credits: “Don’t let traditional thinking stop you from coming home.”
The video comes on the eve of Chinese New Year, when parents and children gather to celebrate the country’s most important holiday. It was produced by PFLAG China, a gay rights organization named after the U.S.-based Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The group runs support groups and provides counseling around China.
While homosexuality is gradually becoming more accepted, activists say the government routinely cracks down on the gay rights movement, according to CNN. In May of 2013, a 19-year-old activist was arrested for 12 days for leading a street march against homophobia.
“They aren’t just targeting gay groups,” Xiaogang Wei, head of the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute told CNN. “Authorities are increasingly worried about the organizational capability of various rights groups, especially when we band together, because it could challenge their political power.”
The pressure to marry has made it hard for many men to be open about their sexual orientation and has led as many as 10 million to marry straight women just to placate their families, according to a state media estimate.
But as companies realize the potential of the gay market base, new apps and products aimed at the gay community are emerging. Blued, a gay dating app that has been primarily used in Beijing, recently raised $30 million from a U.S. venture capital firm, according to Reuters. The app has attracted 15 million users in two years.