Tongzhi

Or comrade – the venerated communist term – now gay man using it when refers to each other in Beijing, my dear friend YZ told me few years ago.  The Times picks it up now.  Well, time has changed, very fast.  One of my friends was led out of the closet by his American b/f in the 80s, which was common: the Asian gay men were liberated by their western b/fs.  Now they come out in doves on their own.  Edgy, secret and slightly illicit.  The relationships between gay men are short lived, in general.  My friend spent little more than a decade with his, which was an eternity in gay community.  The illicit or secrecy is much less now, perhaps the relationships are more stabilized?  I’ve never met his ABF who’s engineer and was sent to China only because he raised his hand in the crowd when no one else did.  The perks for the advanture were great, US$100k plus housing allowance and a chauffeured Audi when his peers made far less.. ..  However the ABF wasn’t a management material.  When more hands were raised, hence the bar is higher and perks were more stringent, he’s ousted and moved to Prague, operates a cheese store.  My friend had gone to Europe with him, opened some very edge store selling his art works and Chinese trinkets with success. 
“Why didn’t you stay and make it permanent?”  He said there’s only seasonal market to support it.  Guess he and his ABF were couple of decades too early.  They also thought of renovating the villas in Shanghai long before it becomes fashionable and unaffordable, :).

One day Yishi and I were at his apartment, enjoying a pot of tea and cookies when her b/f Wang Piaoshi – Floating Stone called.  I met both boys in fifth grade, classmated with Wang in both primary school and middle school. He’s the golden boy: smart, funny and had hair to match – he’s breaststroke swimmer – don’t you just love his name – Piaoshi 漂石- (hope my interpretation is up to par)??  Six days a week in the pool that bleached his hair to dirty blond.  Yishi was my middle school classmate.  Wang dated her briefly in high school in secrecy then parted and both got married to others.  After a huge fortune and then lost it all in Shenzhen and Shanghai, gone was too two young wives, he moved back to Beijing, and moved in with Yishi who’s also divorced in Shanghai and moved back to Beijing. 

Wang called to see what we were up to that day.  I thought about playing baifen (ok…..I know it gets boring), so yelled out loud, “come on over.”
“Where are you?”  Yishi handed her cell to me.
“At xx’s home ..”  Without much of thinking.
“Ewwwww, that’s disgusting ..  you two are shameless ..” 
His comment came too quick for me to cover the phone.  Wang of course knew my our gay friend long before I did, but they never were friends.  Apparently Wangs voice was loud enough for us to hear.  My friend got up, left the living room.  Yizhi and I were staring at each other, lost in our own thoughts.

It was the common sentiment toward gay in China.  Even Lin was making fun at me.  He used to live in the apartment directly above my friend’s, and was friendly with him when we young.

Few days later, I went to visit his parents who were my mom’s associates.  After dinner, he took me home and said,  “it wasn’t necessary.”  He considered my visit only because of Wang’s comment.  Oh, that’s hurt.

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  1. Pingback: Irene Eng The Kibbitzer » The story of the amphibian

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