The traditional term for homosexuality in China is “the passion of the cut sleeve boys” (断袖之癖), so named from the story of Emperor Ai of Han (27 BCE - 1 BCE) and Dong Xian (23 BCE - 1 BCE). As the story goes, Emperor Ai fell in love with a minor official named Dong Xian. Dong Xian quickly gained the Emperor’s favor. One afternoon as they slept in bed, Emperor Ai woke up. Rather than wake his lover, he cut the sleeves of his robe to let his lover sleep longer. Homosexuality was regarded as a normal affair up until the late Qing dynasty when the government attempted to westernize the country.
gondoleia’s tags are on point: #we actually have a very long and very richly documented lgbt+ history #granted most of it is with cis men (or most likely — we didn’t have gendered pronouns until the europeans and so most of the pre-qing literature is ambiguous to gender so it could basically be read any way you like #but yeah then the nationalists and the late qing government tried to modernise #and sent scientists and journalists overseas in europe #and picked up on their ass-backwards ideas about homosexuality and brought it back to china #where it’d never been taboo before #(ha apparently the jesuits were shocked at the open nature of homosexuality in china) #yeah and then homosexuality got put onto a list of psychological illnesses and didn’t get taken off until recently #so thanks for that