Earlier generations of Western scholars often regarded nonheterosexual desires, identities, and intimacies in Chinese-speaking contexts as marginalized, stigmatized, and silenced, if not completely invisible, in mainstream mediascapes and pop cultural spaces. However, in contemporary Chinese and Sinophone contexts, queer practices, images, and narratives voiced, either explicitly or implicitly, by media producers, performers, and consumers or fans who do not necessarily self-identify as LGBTQ are common and even proliferating. These manifestations of queer Chinese media and pop culture are diverse and widespread in both online and offline spaces. In the new millennium, with the rise of queer Asian, queer Chinese, and queer Sinophone studies, scholars have strived to move away from Euro-American-centric and Japanese-centric queer media studies and theories when examining queer Chinese-language media and cultural productions. In particular, a growing body of scholarship (in fields such as literary studies, cinema and television studies, and fan studies) has explored intersecting ways of reconceptualizing “queerness” and “Chineseness” to examine gender, sexual, and sociocultural minority cultures in Chinese-language public and pop cultural spaces. Some of the literature has usefully traced the history of the concepts “homosexuality” and “tongzhi” (comrade) in modern and contemporary China, as well as the transcultural transmission and mutations of the meanings of the English term “queer” (ku’er) in Chinese media studies. Differentiating these concepts helps clarify the theorization of and scholarly debates surrounding queer Chinese media and pop culture in the 21st century. A number of scholars have also troubled the meaning and the essentialized identity of “Chineseness” through a queer lens while decolonizing and de-Westernizing queer Chinese media and pop cultural studies. In addition, post-2010 scholarship has paid major attention to Chinese media censorship and regulations (with a close focus on the context of mainland China/the People’s Republic of China/PRC) concerning homosexual and queer content production, circulation, and consumption and how these have been circumvented in both traditional and online media spaces.
Jamie J. Zhao
Terrie Siang-Ting Wong
Starting from the late 20th century, domestic and multinational corporations begun actively promoting their products and services to Chinese tongzhi communities at local LGBTQ events such as the ShanghaiPRIDE, Taiwan Pride Week, and the Hong Kong Pride Parade. In recent years, consumer brands are eager to market themselves as tongzhi friendly, for example, by displaying the pride colors in advertising. In the People’s Republic of China (henceforth PRC and China), businesses are offering services that exclusively serve the needs of Chinese tongzhi, such as overseas wedding packages, travel services, surrogate services, and assisting in permanent overseas migration. In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (henceforth Hong Kong) and the Republic of China (henceforth Taiwan), the pink market features a well-established network of gay and lesbian disco clubs, bars, and bookstores. In addition to brick-and-mortar businesses, the Chinese pink market also has a strong online presence in the form of gay and lesbian dating apps. In short, the Chinese pink market includes all activities in contemporary Chinese societies that aim to profit from the needs and desires of individuals who experience same-sex attraction. Research on the Chinese pink markets to date has primarily focused on using a political economy perspective to investigate tongzhi subject formation, specifically focusing on queer subjects as consumers. Aspects of the Chinese pink markets that have been studied include product/service offerings, profit mechanisms, and marketing messages. In contrast to the financial institutions and business owners that promote the pink economy as progress for local tongzhi communities in the form of increased visibility and improved quality of life, there is a distinct ambivalence towards the Chinese pink market amongst the scholarly community. Literature on all three Chinese pink markets—China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong—trouble the notion that tongzhi visibility in the pink economy unequivocally heralds positive social change for local tongzhi subjects. Scholars writing on all three Chinese pink markets are also united in their rejection of a global queering reading of tongzhi subjectivity and subject formation. Despite these common research trajectories, there are also divergences in the literature on each of the Chinese pink markets. For example, research on the China pink market entails a vibrant debate on what should be the “proper relationship” between tongzhi businesses, LGBTQ NGOs, and the state; these questions are of less interest in research on the Hong Kong and Taiwan pink markets. Given the uniqueness of state regulations as well as the different economic histories and policies of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China, future research should consider the Chinese pink market as a multi-location, multicultural, and multi-layered site of study with diverse developments in queer identity, consciousness, and politics.