How China’s Youtube Became a Rare Safe Space for LGBT Streamers

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02/24/2022

Before it was China’s answer to YouTube, Bilibili started as a niche streaming platform for fans of anime, comics, and games (ACG). Today, it’s one of China’s biggest media portals, home to everything from documentaries and variety shows to a much-loved annual alternative New Year’s Eve Gala. But its status as a home for niche subcultures and marginalized groups remains intact, if you know where to look. One of the best examples of this is the site’s vibrant community of LGBT vloggers and lifestyle streamers. This might come as a surprise in a country where public media portrayals of queerness are subject to intense official scrutiny. Indeed, it certainly surprised me when I first came across a large amount of vlogs related to the topic of coming out. One prominent gay vlogger, for example, uploaded a 20-minute video portraying four trips to the hospital he made after a relative revealed his sexual identity to his mother. The first visit was initiated by his mom, who refused to accept her son’s homosexuality, and took him to a doctor to ask if his sexual orientation could be “rectified.” The latter three visits consisted of trips he and his boyfriend made to three different hospitals to gauge medical experts’ opinions about whether homosexuality was a disease and if it should be treated. Uploaded in August 2019, the vlog has garnered more than two million views.

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