Most straight spouses feel unique in their mixed-orientation dilemma, though these mismatched couples can be found everywhere in the world.  During two decades of writing about these relationships, I have received related contacts from Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Thailand, Australia, England, South Africa, in addition to my home country of the United States.  It’s clear that these challenging marriages are a world-wide phenomenon. 

An online article in Quartz by Zheping Huang gave startling statistics about female straight spouses in China.  Until recently, such marriages were not publicly acknowledged, though scholarly estimates number them in the millions.  Zhang Beichuan, a scholar in the field, estimates that China has twenty million male homosexuals and 80% of them will marry a woman.  Eighty percent!  Social and cultural pressure to do so is pervasive. This contrasts strikingly with the estimated 15-20% of American gays who marry. 

Young men in China, gay or straight, are pressured to marry in order to father an heir.  Divorce is out of the question, and the wives are trapped. Female straight spouses in China are dubbed "homowives," short for wives of homosexuals.  The Quartz article focuses on these women’s extreme predicament and their mounting support for gay marriage. Their goal is to remove some of the social pressure for gay men to marry women and to legalize same-sex marriage.  Quoting the article:

“Homowives” and their supporters are getting more vocal about their own situations, and the need for China to become more accepting of homosexuality. Zhang Ziwei, a 27-year-old corporate secretary from Nanchang, southeast China’s Jiangxi Province, who dated a gay man three years ago, now manages a QQ chat group on the topic with more than one hundred members. She is translating two books—My Husband Is Gay and When Your Spouse Comes Out, written by Carol Grever, an American woman who married a gay man—into Chinese.

These women are becoming vocal activists to urge legalization of same-sex marriage.  Though their efforts have not yet come to fruition, it is gratifying to know that my books may be useful in their efforts.

Click the link below to read the whole Quartz article.   


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  1. Louella says:

    Wow...... technology (being able to "instantly connect" with others around the world) is creating new insights and understandings of others -- in this case connecting persons (men and women, too) being straight spouses in whatever country!
    Like you, Carol, I have heard from women in England, Australia, and a lady from Lebanon, who thanked me for "risking" the openness of sharing my story. It is humbling, indeed, that others may find comfort, care, and encouragement through our written words and experiences.
    I read with interest the Quartz article. I guess my hope for homowives in China is that they can find peace of mind in knowing they are not alone. We cannot solve anything for them, but we can be here to listen and share what has worked for us.
    I am also wondering if there may be some homohusbands and they are just not yet comfortable being identified. Time will tell.

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