China’s government has banned “sissy” and “effeminate” males from television, part of a vicious propaganda campaign that brands them as “abnormal” and somehow in violation of the country’s morals.
President Xi Jinping’s targeting of gay men — and of anyone who doesn’t conform to conventional standards of masculinity — should not be surprising. Homophobia is an authoritarian trademark.
When I was a student at Moscow State University in the early 1980s, one of my classmates — a soft-spoken lover of literature — was expelled, supposedly for plagiarism. But I’ll never forget when another classmate leaned in and whispered that, in fact, our expelled peer’s crime was that “he was gay.”