Queer issues in Singapore

Being Queer in Shanghai

Jiamin speaks of her experiences as a queer person in Shanghai.

How to hide queer identity under mainstream public context is an ambiguous issue since self-censorship has become a regular way of thinking in this environment of censorship. In this environment, I started a journey of seeking an over 15-year history of queers in Shanghai by way of making a documentary with a local lesbian organization. Though shuffled by time and space, queer has yet to receive due spotlight in the LGBTQIA+ community where the specific labels are preferred, such as gay, lesbian, transgender, etc.

What’s more, I find the older generation still address each other as “Tongzhi”(which means comrade in English, a term ironically sprinkling with distinctive socialist color, to portray their sexual orientation. Some of these “Tongzhi” can get along with the “gaze” from “the other” and then dance and even drag in the ballroom, with ’90s style Lailai Ballroom being the most representative one. The younger generation of queers bustle in and out of bars, nightclubs and pride festivals, hunting for diverse relationships such as open relationships. But the majority of them obey the rule in a traditional way. Hence marriage of convenience and surrogacy are being practiced under the dual suppression of patriarchy and filial morality.

For me personally, being queer is never an identity, but a questing and a resistance against identity. Sometimes I feel that I am a lost child in this century, but most of the time I’m just grateful for being a participant in the history of shaping the queers.

Jiamin Hu currently works, lives and studies in China. She uses queer film as a way to experiment with history and power in private and public archives. It is her own ritual to explore the relation between “I” and its image, its body, memory and death in creating immersive works with poetic and sharp aesthetics by diverse media, such as performance, film, moving image and installation. Jiamin's post has been featured on Irregular Labs’ Gender Report, available here: https://www.irregularlabs.com/gender.