Amid the Epidemic, a Quiet Leap Forward for China’s LGBT Community

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02/18/2020

The days leading up to the Lunar New Year was a tense time for people across China amid the worsening COVID-19 epidemic. But Jiang Junjie had even more reason to feel nervous than most. The 26-year-old not only planned to visit his parents in the southern city of Chaozhou, 350 kilometers from his home in Shenzhen, in spite of the outbreak; he was also bringing along his boyfriend. It would be the first meeting between Jiang’s partner and his family, and the young engineer had a lot riding on the outcome. In China, bringing a partner home for the holiday is a big gesture — and often a sign the couple intends to one day tie the knot. Just months ago, Jiang wouldn’t have considered taking such a step. The previous Lunar New Year, he’d finally come out to his family, and it had gone worse than he’d feared. His father had told him never to come home again. His mother had said nothing at all. But Jiang had managed to change his parents’ minds with the help of an unexpected ally: the Chinese government.

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