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Fake-Marriage Market in China

Sham Marriage Is a Liberated Option For Gen-Y Gays in China

Weddings may be big business in the US, but they are serious business in China. There's tremendous pressure to marry and bear children, so much so that unmarried women over 27 are called sheng nu or "leftovers." Gay people aren't spared, because social protocol dictates a "don't ask, don't tell" policy that keeps nearly everyone in the closet. Previous generations suffered through loveless marriages, but Generation Y has a new plan: gay men marry gay women to please their parents and (sort of) free themselves.

It's become so popular that there's a fake-marriage market where in-the-know Chinese lesbians and gay men go to find spouses. At one underground market, held in a yoga studio (the owner supports gay rights) in Shanghai, Slate's Nicola Davison talked to fake-spouse seekers and those who've already said "I do" (fingers crossed). Read what they had to say below.

  • "In my view, a 30-year-old man should start thinking about having a family, but two men can't hold each other's hands in the street. We're not allowed to be a family."
  • "I want to get married for my parents, but I think lying to them will make me feel terrible. So I want to have a fake marriage with a lesbian girl, but just for one or two years, and then I want a divorce to show my parents that I am not a marriage type."
  • "In your job, in your social life, and for family gatherings, you need to bring a partner. It's hard to do these things alone in China. My grandfather and grandmother . . . everyone was waiting for me to get married. The wedding felt like a task I needed to accomplish, something I needed to get through step-by-step, a bit like doing homework."

It sounds like a sad state, but it is better than being completely closeted. After all, aren't they at least coming out to each other?

Source: Thinkstock
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