Uncredited and undated graphic | Hornet | 18303
Matt Baume writes in about ancient China and its tolerance of homosexuality.
For centuries, same-sex relationships in China were simply no big deal. One collection of literature dating from around 600 BC describes male attraction at court; other scholarship identified numerous same-sex partners for male emperors around 200 BC.
Emperor Ai, for example, tried to arrange for his male partner to inherit the throne. It is from Emperor Ai that we get the euphemism of the cut sleeve: a story says Ai’s partner fell asleep on Ai’s sleeve, and so the emperor cut it off so as not to wake him.
China’s history has many similar stories. A story around the year 150 about Huo Guang describes a same-sex romance. Ruan Ji and Ji Kang were described as lovers around the year 300.
From the 1300s to the 1600s a number of writings record gay couples in a matter-of-fact context which indicates such relationships were common.
Laws against homosexuality in China originated in the 1600s. There was government surveillance over relationships. By the Second World War, Chinas’ LGBT community faced harassment and persecution.