“What are Gaymis?” 什么是“Gay蜜”: An investigation of Chinese subcultures

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By Zhou Jie, translation by Mario Colella

2018年10月24日,南京大学人类学研究所邓国基(Chris Tan)副教授应邀来到中美中心,为师生们带来了一场新颖且精彩的讲座——“Gay蜜”:中国济南新兴的“女汉子”及“直女”与男同性恋者之间的亲密友谊。邓国基教授曾在2002年获得耶鲁大学东亚研究的硕士学位,并于2011年获得美国伊利诺伊大学香槟城分校的人类学博士学位。他的研究兴趣集中于社会性别与性,对新加坡、中国大陆及台湾的同性恋群体也颇有研究。

NANJING, China — On Oct. 24, Chris Tan, a Nanjing University professor of humanities, came to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center (HNC) to present students with a novel lecture titled “Gaymi” on the flourishing friendships between straight women and gay men in the city of Jinan, in China’s Shandong province. After earning a master’s degree from Yale University in 2002, Professor Tan received his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois-Champaign in 2011. Among his research interests are gender roles, sex and collective identity within homosexual communities in Singapore, mainland China and Taiwan.

“Gay蜜”一词,指的是成为女性亲密朋友的男同性恋者,是英文“gay”与汉语“闺蜜”两个词的有机结合。邓教授以“新兴男子气概”(Emergent  Masculinity)概念的阐释为基础,通过在中国济南长达一年的实证研究,对中国“Gay蜜”亚文化进行了深度探索。邓教授的研究聚焦于这种亲密关系中的女性,而非Gay蜜本身的特质。换言之,其研究的关键问题是为何当下中国会出现这样一批希望拥有男同性恋亲密朋友的女性群体。

The word “Gaymi,” referring to homosexual men who form close friendships with straight women, is a portmanteau of “gay” and the Chinese word guimi or “(female) best friend.” Employing the concept of “emergent masculinity” as his theoretical foundation, Tan carried out extensive research in Jinan on the country’s Gaymi culture. Tan’s research focused on women involved in these friendships rather than the Gaymis themselves. The true question of his research was this: Why is there a group identity among Chinese women that desire to be close friends with gay males?

邓教授认为,女性更愿意与其男同性恋朋友们讨论与时尚、爱情、性等话题,一方面是因为她们获益于独身子女政策而变得更加自信,另一方面是因为日本的BL (Boy’s Love)文化及韩国的花美男 (KKonminam)文化在中国日益盛行。最后,邓教授指出,目前来看,“Gay蜜”的出现源于中国都市女性的需求,而非男同性恋们的自我认同,这也并不代表男同性恋者不再属于社会边缘群体。

In Tan’s opinion, the women of the one-child policy generation have greater self-confidence than earlier generations of Chinese women and thus prefer to discuss fashion, love and sex with gay men. In addition to this generational difference, these women are partially influenced by the growing popularity of Japanese BL (Boy’s Love) cultural products, as well as Korean KKonminam cultural products, both of which are increasingly found in China. Moreover, as Professor Tan points out, the concept of Gaymi as it exists today is something that finds its origins in the desires of urban Chinese women; it is not a concept with which gay men tend to identify, nor is it representative of gay men in China, who are still among society’s most marginalized groups.


After the lecture, HNC students and faculty asked whether or not the concept of Gaymis will raise public awareness and acceptance of LGBT identities. Furthermore, a professor asked whether or not straight women and the “revolutionary women” of Chinese history will be considered in a similar light. One classmate stated that the existence of sexual minorities in China cannot be overlooked and that this unique lecture immediately deepened her understanding of sexual identity in China.

Zhou Jie is an HNC M.A. ’20 student concentrating in Energy, Resources, and Environment (ERE).

Mario Colella is an HNC Certificate ’19/SAIS M.A. ’20 student concentrating in Chinese Studies.

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