Joseph Crowley and Elizabeth Tekautz
Queer Beijing: An Ethnography
Using semi-structured and unstructured interviews, this study presents an ethnographic picture of queer life in China’s capital, Beijing culminating in a case study of a transgendered woman. To date, no ethnographies of queer life in Beijing have been published (only two conference presentations are referenced in the literature). Therefore, a look at queer life in Beijing therefore offers a unique opportunity to see how an emergent yet marginalized population lives in one of the world’s largest, most powerful cities.
Ranging in ages from nineteen to fifty from a variety of backgrounds, informants discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by Beijing queers. Topics include concerns about familial and societal pressures to marry and reproduce, stresses associated with living closeted lives, and fears of retribution if their sexual orientation is revealed. Additionally, the paper illustrates how Beijing offers queers opportunities not available elsewhere in China, with the possible exception of Shanghai, including a burgeoning sense of community, numerous queer-related establishments (restaurants, cafés, bars, etc.), and nascent attempts to organize for social justice. We explore at length individual lives straddling public and private divides. The fundamental purpose of this paper is to contribute to the literature and provide a starting point for additional research and analysis.
Faculty Mentor: Greg Mahoney
Page last modified July 14, 2009