To say that Chinese lesbians face extraordinary challenges is an understatement. First, lesbians are basically invisible; social and legal discrimination make “coming out”, out of the question for many. Family pressures to marry men are exacerbated by China’s “One Child Policy.” Government censorship and restrictions on organizing make communicating with one another next to impossible. Yet, thanks to the movement Amior and other queer women nurtured, Amior’s life is very different than it was five years ago. The Chinese Lala Alliance now boasts hundreds of members from all over China.
Amior’s queer activism began in 2005 with a lesbian hotline to field calls from queer women across the country. Before long they began hosting “salons,” both online and in-person, for support and discussion. By 2007, Lala was invited to teach a course on gender and sexual diversity at a local university; a first step to raising awareness and fostering a better understanding of sexual and gender diversity in Chinese society.
Also in 2007, Amior’s group along with other lesbian groups from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan planned “Lala Camp”! 50 lesbians from over 20 cities and towns representing 40 different local LBT groups gathered in Shanghai to organize and develop leadership skills. During the 2008 Lala Camp, participants voted to build a sustainable, cross-regional Lala movement in the region. A 2009 first-time grant from the Global Fund to the Chinese Lala Alliance enabled the group to expand camp, boosting attendance to more than 100 participants.
Perhaps most significant in the groups short history, is the publication of China’s first lesbian oral history. Finally, Lala women’s stories – in their own voices—can be heard. Response has been so positive that Alliance translating the oral history and planning a second Lala film festival. “ The times they are a changin!’
By Annie Wilkinson, Development Team (former staff), Christine Ahn and Preeti Mangala Shekar (Communications)