The Politics of a Gay and Lesbian Future in Beijing

William Schroeder Iii, William Schroeder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


This paper assesses how a banal futurity is currently helping to build tongzhi community in urban China. Members of the gay and lesbian recreational groups with whom I worked met regularly on weekends to engage in organized leisure activities, but they rarely identified long-term queer activism as the primary goal of coming together. This seeming paradox prompted me to consider what forces and concepts, then, served to perpetuate activities that clearly created a sense of community for participants. Obviously, government restrictions on public organizing and on vocalizing demands for social change encouraged my informants’ reticence about their goals in general, but the energy with which they practiced weekend recreational activities suggests that these events and their organizers and participants were far from apathetic about what they were doing. I will argue that neither were these events apolitical, despite the fact that politics as such did not drive their organization. Rather, the resolve simply to come together on weekends to arrange recreational events despite obvious difficulties was political in the “futureness” of its orientation. The desire to influence favorable outcomes for oneself and one’s peers, on however small a scale and if only into the coming few days, represents what could be called a hopeful politics of the everyday. This analysis concludes, therefore, that in the study of marginalized groups such as gays and lesbians in the PRC, we must take account of both a long present and a short future in order to capture the sense of contemporary political engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationhost publication
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2011
EventChina's Futures Workshop - University of Manchester, UK
Duration: 11 Feb 201111 Feb 2011


ConferenceChina's Futures Workshop
CityUniversity of Manchester, UK


  • queer
  • tongzhi
  • China
  • politics
  • activism
  • futurity


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