Shanghai’s marriage market is a place where desperate parents attempt to find a partner for their unmarried sons and daughters.
Every weekend, the mothers and fathers of single adults flock to the People’s Park, armed with flyers advertising their offspring’s physical attributes, education, salary and zodiac sign.
Last weekend—for the very first time—parents of LGBT+ children decided to attend the weekly event to celebrate ‘Lover’s Day’ in China.
The group of 11 mothers seeking partners for their gay sons and daughters decided to brave the market with help from PFLAG and Rela, a lesbian dating app—but were harassed by other parents at the park.
“What they’re doing here is illegal — they’re fraudsters,” one man said shortly after the women set up their posts, according to Sixth Tone.
“LGBT issues shouldn’t be a public display. Their choice is wrong and is against Chinese values,” he said.
The group was surrounded by curious onlookers with one person asking, "How do they have sex?"
“That’s their business, I have no idea,” replied one mother.
Eventually, the group was escorted from the park by police—who claimed that the group had not registered and that their activity constituted ‘”advertising”.
Dong Wanwan - a mother who travelled 1200 kilometres from Shenzhen - told the crowd at the market that they had every right to attend the marriage market.
“If parents of straight people can be here, parents of gay people can also be here,” she said.
“We have every right to be here — I’m here to find a boyfriend for my son.”
James Yang, program officer at the United Nations Development Program’s ‘Being LGBTI in Asia’ project says: “It’s quite common that police use the no-registration as an excuse to disperse these kind of activities or events [in China].”
While the group of mothers was forced to leave, they remain determined to attend the market again.
“There’s still a long battle ahead,” the mother of a lesbian woman told Sixth Tone. “Today’s event wasn’t successful, but I’m sure we’ll find another way.”