In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 269 counter few such residents in White's Hong Kong. The three native authors that she introduces at the end ofthe antiiology are too few, too superficial, and too intellectual to represent the myriad voices ofthe masses. Ifthe real Hong Kong is to be presented, we must allow ordinary folks to tell their own stories. Chang-tai Hung Carleton College and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Chang-tai Hung is a historian specializing in modern Chinese cultural history. He is the Jane and Raphael Bernstein Professor ofHistory andAsian Studies at Carleton College and Professor ofHumanities at the Hong Kong University ofScience and Technology. mi Wu Chunsheng and Zhou Huashan, editors. Women huozhe [We are alive]. Hong Kong: Xianggang Tongzhi Yanjiu Chubanshe, 1996. viii, 240 pp. Paperback HK $78, isbn 962-850-266-2. We Are Alive is the first collection of autobiographical accounts by contemporary homosexuals in Beijing. "The Male Comrades Have Stood Up" is the title ofthe first chapter—an ironic allusion to Mao Zedong's announcement ofthe founding ofthe People's Republic in 1949. This is followed by a shorter "The Female Comrades Have Stood Up" in the latter part ofthe book. The "comrades" here are the participants in a newly emerging Gay and Lesbian scene in the People's Republic. It is the authors ofthe book—twenty male and two female writers—who have stood up and for the first time frankly relate their experiences as homosexuals in socialist China. The book was published in Hong Kong (in April 1996), and with two exceptions the authors write under pen names, since homosexuality is still a punishable offense, constituting the crime of"hooliganism" or "indecent behavior ," similar to premarital sexual intercourse. The narratives are divided by the editors into different sections according to the ages ofthe protagonists or the events in their accounts. The general introductory chapter "The Male Comrades Have Stood Up" is followed by "Young Comrades ," that is, accounts ofdiscovery or first experiences with homosexuality.© 1998 by University «Loye Experiences ^1I1 me other Sex" tells about forced marriages or divorces. oj awai1 ress«^^ Female Comrades Have Stood Up" consists ofthe contribution oftwo Lesbians , who in general are still much less willing to act or talk in public and who also face much greater social pressure than their male counterparts. The next 270 China Review International: Vol. 5, No. 1, Spring 1998 chapter, "The Comrades Coming ofAge," tells about the experiences of elder homosexuals , and "Days in the Fish Pound" goes into detail about Gay life in Beijing and its prisons. The volume closes with a chapter reflecting on the question of "coming out," in "In the Publicity of the Media." The "comrades" in Beijing have begun to unite, develop group activities, organize meeting places, and generally find a social space in the new society ofa socialist market economy, which has suddenly opened up social niches in bars, discos , private apartments, rented music halls, and so on that are already beyond government control. Recounting their activities, their difficulties and hardships, the social and political conflicts that often result in family discord or even detention, the autobiographical narratives also reflect on the possibilities, chances, and advantages of a solidarity movement under the present circumstances, and the usefulness of a personal "coming out." At the same time, they write about their loves, desires, sexuality, and relationships that have either romantic or tragic endings, revealing attitudes on this aspect of everyday life in the city, and ideas on this subject, in a frank and outspoken way that is still very difficult under the current repressive literary policy of the Communist Party. Together with the protagonists—from very diverging social strata that include students, dancers, managers, private entrepreneurs, and university professors —the reader wanders around old and new Beijing, in the malls, pubs, parks, and public bathrooms, and is given the additional benefit ofa vivid insight into the fashionable city life of this rapidly modernizing metropolis. Having conducted interviews with homosexuals in Beijing, among them some of the authors in this anthology, I feel that the stories are realistic and the narrative tone not sensational. Rather, the authors try to show the "normality" of their lives and...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 269-271
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.