In China, where tradition reigns, homosexuality is no longer taboo. What is the view from those living in the country?
by Steffi Lau
Beijing's 'happy couples' launch campaign for same-sex marriages (Photo by Ling), February 2009. Courtesy of Tong Yu, Xu Bin.
Hong Kong native Joe Lam knew he was different. As a 14-year-old, he began to wonder if he was gay, confused by his attraction to boys. But with no portrayals of gay people in the media, no discussion of gays and no Internet, he wasn't quite sure what he was. He only knew he was different.
When he was 21, Lam traveled outside of Hong Kong for the first time. In London, he witnessed gay men holding hands on the street, something he had never seen before. Having been exposed to a different world, he returned to Hong Kong and immersed himself in a new life.
He was soon living with his boyfriend and had come to terms with being gay. Yet he had still to confront one major obstacle - he hadn't come out to his family, worried how his traditional Chinese family would react. For New Year's dinner, he asked if he could bring his roommate. His mom said yes.
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