According to Samshasha (as cited in Wu, 2003), there were copious works of literature related to the emperors’ homosexual relationship in ancient China. Homosexuality was widely known and quite tolerable in ancient times, despite not entirely accepted. One of the most influential allegorical tales concerning a love relationship between the Duke of Wei, Ling, and his male lover named Mizi Xia, originates in the Zhou dynasty of China. One day, while wandering in an orchard together, Xia found a peach and took a bite. After realizing the peach was particularly sweet, he saved the remaining half and gave it to the ruler to enjoy. Another same-sex relationship between Emperor Ai of the Han dynasty and a commander, Dong Xian, was also one of China’s most famous stories of gay love. On one occasion, the pair took a nap together, with Dong Xian fallen asleep in the emperor’s arm. When the emperor woke up, in order to not disturb his lover, he cut off the sleeve of his robe. Ever since then, the term “The bitten peach and the cut sleeve” was used to refer to homosexual love in Chinese history (Curtis, 1990). (HOW WOMEN ARE TREATED)Before acquiring the above knowledge, I used to have the idea that homosexuality is something modern and is originated from the western culture, but little do I know that same-sex relationship started already in ancient imperial China. Growing up in an Asian household, I was brought up with traditional Chinese parenting. Most of the time, Chinese people suffer from both parental and cultural pressures in which they are expected to fulfil the ultimate goal – heterosexual marriage and reproduction. These major events are considered as a normal and natural part in life, also as a responsibility of good citizenship base on the traditional beliefs in China. The pressure to meet the social obligation of family is particularly acute for women, who can be known as “left-over women” if they remain unmarried by the age of 27 (All-China Women’s Federation, 2007). Moreover, recent statistics indicated that great majority of Chinese people, with approximately 78.53% of the respondents, generally have a conservative outlook on homosexuality as they believe having same-sex sexual behaviours are wrongdoings (Xie & Peng, 2018).
However, as I learn more about the sexualities of the Chinese emperors, I realized the importance of radical thinking. Time has changed. We should not let these societal and cultural pressures restrict our freedom of expression. We should become more accepting of relationships and acts of homosexual and stop the discrimination against sexual minorities. It is important to find your real love by following your heart, and never stop doing that just because you are afraid of being classified as “abnormal”. If even the emperors in the past were able to recognize and make his homosexual relationship public, why can’t we? Imagine if being homosexual was something shameful, why would there be a pride month celebrating dignity, equality and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community each year? It is not despicable nor disgraceful to be homosexual, in fact it allows you to recognize who you truly are and what you really need. Never limit the choice of your love partner because of their sexuality or gender. It is crucial to find the right person who shares common interest with you and allows you to express who you are. Thus, we should always have this question in mind – “Is it really worth spending the rest of your life with someone you don’t love just to fulfill the social obligation of family?”.
Speaking of making homosexual relationships public, “Coming out of the closet”, or “coming out” in short, is a widely known colloquialism referring to the confessional process in which LGBTQ+ people disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity according to Stein (as cited in Kotze & Bowman, 2018). “Coming out” is about self-acceptance of your identity and being truthful to the ones you love. It allows people to live their life honestly and be able to share with others what is important to them. However, the majority receive strong parental objection, some may even be opened up to ridicule and ignorance upon the disclosure of their homosexuality, which makes this revealing process difficult at the same time. Thus, some people consider this act as a momentous occasion and a major transition in life.