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tóngzhì. Gay Dictionary: China. Moscas de Colores.

Stem the tide.

The first Chinese law condemning homosexuality came into force in 1740. Until then, and after, homosexual behavior was visible and accepted historically by the Chinese society.

Homophobia came more than a century later and imported from Europe, with the denominated, Self-Strengthening Movement, in which the authorities, burdened by its military defeats, spent a lot of years studying the occidental technology and culture. I can imagine Occidental hired specialists feeling, in addition to studying their work, that the Chinese men were also studying their butts. At that time, in Europe, the newly appeared term "homosexuality" was used to name a mental illness. Then came the repression of the Cultural Revolution, with a double pirouette with twist, decided that homosexuality was a vice that came from the West. Came comrades and homosexuality became clandestine because it was severely punished by imprisonment, death penalty and castration.

And so, with sin, penitence came. Comrades and homosexuality were united forever in a strange dance of love and hate. The comrades punished sexual diversity and society responded by calling gays to comrades. tóngzhì ( 同志 ) means comrade and gay.

Chinese authorities don’t like the issue, arguing that the origin of this expression came from the opponents of communism, who ridiculed that Chinese government kissing themselves to say hello. Originally from Taiwan and Hong Kong the use of this word spread throughout China once these cities went back to the Chinese government.

Then there is the resemblance to the words tóngxìnglián ( 同性恋 ) and tóngxìngliánzhě ( 同性恋者 ) being the adjective and the noun used in China to refer to homosexuality, love or lust for the same sex.

Today the social consideration of sexual diversity in China is highly polarized, being more accepted in the major urban centers and considered a disease in the rest of the country.

Homosexual behavior is not penalized by the authorities, but last year the word tóngzhì starred in a new episode of “Stem the tide” as it released a major Chinese dictionary where not included, deliberately, gay as meaning of Tóngzhì, despite being one of the most used words, in addition to bōlí ( 玻璃 ), by and for gays.

“You can use this word as you like, but we will not mention this meaning in the dictionary. We do not want to contribute to the spread of this new meaning. We know that this sense exists, but we dont want include it.” said the linguist Jiang Lansheng answering complaints of Chinese LGBT community.

We'll see, Mrs. linguist, for how long.

Greetings, comrade!

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