Identity and Online Advocacy

Social Media in Online Advocacy and Identity Negotiation for China’s LGBTQ+ Community

Hi everyone!

I hope you all have a great time reading all the papers submitted for DCNC 2021.

The topic for my paper is social media in online advocacy and identity negotiation for China’s LGBTQ+ community.

You can find a copy of my paper (as a PDF) for download below.

6 thoughts on “Social Media in Online Advocacy and Identity Negotiation for China’s LGBTQ+ Community

  1. Hi Cathy,

    An excellent paper to read!

    I did not expect China to be the world’s largest LGBTQ+ cohort, I imagined a western country such as America to have the highest number. Does this statistic take into account China having the world’s largest population?

    The anonymity that social media can provide for its users must be beneficial for individuals in the Chinese LGBTQ+ community as the stigma and discrimination surrounding sexual orientation is still quite prevalent as you mention. This anonymity creates a safe outlet for these suppressed individuals to voice their thoughts without fear of judgement or discovery. Would you agree that this anonymity is also beneficial as it creates a safe wall for LGBTQ+ communities to correct misinformation spread by the areas such as the media with some degree of protection?

    It is interesting that the same platforms such as Sina Weibo that the LGBTQ+ community are using for support and activism are also working against them to remove controversial content such as the #les hashtag.

    You mainly mention Sina Weibo in your paper, are there any other prominent platforms the Chinese LGBTQ+ community rally around?

    Really well written paper, I enjoyed reading it thanks!

    – Lily

  2. Hi Cathy,
    This is a fantastic paper. Your discussion about the China’s LGBTQ+ community brings me into profound thoughts. Whilst People’s Republic of China have been able to maintain economic growth and to stamp out corruption, the next big job may be the guarantee of protect individual rights and freedoms, ensure social justice and simply give people a better life. As we all know, LGBTQ+ community is regarded as unacceptable group in our traditional Chinese culture. Your paper leads to my research. I just found out that sexual-activity between people of the same sex was illegal until 1997 and homosexuality was classed as a mental illness until 2001. Gay couples lacked other ways to ensure their partner’s rights.
    I agree with you that social media ‘Wechat and Weibo’ is a powerful platform for freedom of speech and to provide visibility to public for the repeal of all anti-homosexual laws. I love to hear your comments.

  3. Hi Catherine,

    This topic is so interesting. I’ve become quite interested in it recently – I’ve structured a lot of my research in this, and previous units, around fandom online, and as a result having stumbled into c-dramas. It’s interesting to me that danmei-adapted dramas, and in particular the web novels than many of them were based on, are created in the same cultural context as your paper.

    This article ( touches on how, while flawed, these topics can be a place to start a conversation, which I think aligns with intergroup contact theory that you referenced in your paper.

    I’d be interested to know, during your research, if you came across anything about the repercussions of performing a LGBTQ identity on social media. Are citizens risking offline sanctioning or even surveillance for expressing these opinions online, or are actions only been taken on silencing the entire topics?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts – it’s such an interesting, and admittedly complex topic to discuss.

    1. Hi Maddison!

      Thank you for your feedback. This topic is, indeed, complex!

      To answer your question, I didn’t find a lot of material discussing offline repercussions around the performance of LGBTQ+ identity on social media. Rather, I found a lot of material indicating that the government is trying to limit the visibility/discussion of LGBTQ+ issues. In this article ( there are examples of how the government is trying to control the LGBTQ+ community through censorship and removing sales of rainbow-themed items.

      I would propose, then, that the government does not target the individual. Instead, they appear to be more ‘focused’ on limiting the visibility and spread LGBTQ+ content.

  4. Hi Cathy,
    Fantastic paper, I really enjoyed reading and learning about China’s LGBTQ+ community. Your paper features some important case studies, which I was not previously aware about and demonstrates how the social media has created a vast community that promotes user-generated information sharing and support. I find both the cases of Qiu Bai and Ou Jiayong appalling, and I agree that social media is vital since it facilitates a counter to general discourse in public spheres and promotes non-normative identities. I’m interested to know the outcome of the two lawsuits, did the two universities students win and how this been viewed by the rest of society?
    Your paper mentions that “social media is a common space for the anonymous ‘coming out’ of LGBTQ+ people”, although I question how Chinese users’ negotiate the Government’s real-name identity registration and social credit system? For me, it seems like the Government’s perpetual surveillance deprives citizens of all rights to their online identity, even anonymously, which would hinder the publicity and visibility of sexual minorities on social media. What are your thoughts about current and future Internet policies that aim to block or prevent access for LGBTQ+ communities?

    1. Hi Karla,

      Thank you for your feedback!

      You make a good point. While it’s not ‘anonymous’ in the truest sense, I think that social media does provide a space for LGBTQ+ people to come out to an audience that doesn’t know their offline identity (because it’s masked by their online persona/username). From my research, it appears that the Chinese government doesn’t appear to target the individual; rather, they are focused on limiting the public visibility of LGBTQ+ people and content. (At least, I haven’t found any significant cases of specific individuals facing repercussions.)

      I believe that future Internet policies aiming to block – or make it difficult – to access LBGTQ+ communities will have a significant impact on the formation of communities around LGBTQ+ issues. Social media is already limited in China; many popular social media sites are blocked (e.g. Twitter, Facebook). If Weibo, for instance, was more heavily restricted, it would be difficult for LGBTQ+ people to find and form communities, as there are limited spaces where communities can form. (Although, I might argue that LGBTQ+ individuals might still be able to ‘network’ to some extent, as there are dating apps aimed at LGBTQ+ people in China.)

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