A growing number of gay men and lesbians on the Chinese mainland plan to come out within five years, according to a survey released by WorkForLGBT, a nonprofit business network that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Only 22 percent of gay men and 12 percent of lesbians don't intend to reveal their sexual orientation in the next five years, compared with 30 percent of gay men and 16 percent of lesbians last year, according to the 2016 China LGBT Community Life and Consumption Survey conducted by WorkForLGBT.
The survey polled nearly 17,000 people from the LGBT community from cities and rural regions on the Chinese mainland in August and September.
Some people from the LGBT community said it is because there is more information about the community available nowadays and gay marriage has become legal in several countries in the past few years.
A mother, who left her hometown in Shandong province for Shanghai to dodge the pointing fingers of friends and relatives when her teenage son said he was gay a decade ago, said the public now shows more tolerance and respect for the LGBT community, especially in big cities.
"A decade ago, most parents who finally accepted the fact that their children are homosexual did so because they loved their children and didn't want them to shoulder more stress," said the mother, who wanted to be identified by her surname Mei.
"But now, more parents have begun to understand that it's inherited and can't be changed, although many are still bitter when their child reveals their sexual orientation to them," said Mei, who is now a volunteer with PFLAG China, a Guangzhou-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to eliminating the stigma attached to sexual minorities.
The tolerance also derives from the efforts of such NGOs that have been advocating gay rights in recent years, Mei said. Homosexuality was regarded as a mental disorder in China until 2001.
"Most gays and lesbians don't want to live behind a mask, especially in front of their parents. They want their parents to love them for who they are, and want to share their happiness with their parents. They want to tell them, 'I'm in love with someone'," Mei said.
A Shanghai resident who is gay said that although more people from the LGBT community are coming out, most of them only reveal their sexual orientation to their closest family members and friends.
"I believe that we're still far from a situation where many LGBT people can come out publicly, which requires a change in the mainstream mindset and legal protection in the country," said the 31-year-old, who wanted to be identified by Hank, his English name.