Post-oppositional queer politics and the non-confrontational negotiation of queer desires in contemporary China
The meaning of sexuality is not only specific to particular time periods in history; it is also culturally specific. Informed by transnationalism, queer of color critique, postcolonial feminism, and public sphere theory, my dissertation investigates the complex dynamic between what I call "Chinese queer subjects" and their bio-genetic families in a time of queer globalization. By centering the life experiences of Chinese queer subjects through interviewing and rhetorical analysis, this project intervenes in the teleological discourse of "coming out" that is circulated both in transnational LGBT movements and within academia. Through a materialist analysis of the "coming out" discourse in mainland China, I reveal why and how the discourse of "coming out" is prioritized in Chinese LGBT movements in order to foster a domestic queer market in mainland China. Of most significance to this project are the two non-confrontational strategies that some Chinese queer subjects employ to navigate the tension between family and sexuality: first, the reticent "coming with" strategy that engages the home space with queer desires, transforming the heteronormative family institution from within, toward a more livable queer life; second, the xinghun strategy, a marriage arrangement that many Chinese gay men and lesbian women partake in as a means of being gay or lesbian without exiting the family kinship system. The practices of reticent "coming with" and xinghun challenge the binary between family and sexuality, suggesting that queerness can emerge and thrive without exiting the (heterosexual) family; they give us some concrete examples of what AnaLouise Keating calls "post-oppositional politics" among some Chinese queer subjects.