When Chen Rui finally found a man he adored and who didn’t mind that Chen uses a wheelchair, the stares from everyone else drove them apart. People gave them strange looks every time the pair showed affection in public. “Our relationship became very fragile and ended after two months,” Chen says, following a long pause. Originally from the southern city of Guangzhou, Chen, 22, tells Sixth Tone that he came out to his parents in 2015. They worried that his “choice” would complicate his life, he says. A year later, he injured his spine in a car accident, paralyzing his legs. He had become a cantong — an LGBT person who has a disability. In recent years, sexual minorities have gained greater visibility and acceptance in China, due in part to support from an increasing number of nonprofit organizations dedicated to their cause. Meanwhile, people with disabilities have also begun to speak out against outdated views and enjoy increased support from the government. However, individuals at the intersection of these two identities, like Chen, often feel voiceless — outsiders in both groups.
February 22 / Sixth Tone