Buzzy new LGBT marriage app iHomo, created by a Chinese lesbian couple, will be launching its beta version in December. The app will make it easier for gay and lesbian users to find each other and form increasingly popular marriages for convenience, known as xinghun (形婚). All, of course, in the name of traditional marriage.
There are about 20 million gay men in China, many of whom are looking to find girlfriends and wives in order to ease parental pressure and increase their job security. Chinagayles.com, the go-to site for homosexuals seeking xinghun arrangements, has seen incredible user numbers since day one, and iHomo hopes to replicate its success.
The ‘fake’ marriages testify to the strengthening LGBT community in China, but also point to the predominant view that same-sex marriage is a defining aspect of a person’s success. Many conservative parents still follow traditional Chinese ideas of family and lineage, and Confucian concepts of filial piety teach that children must obey their parents.
The app hopes to go beyond matchmaking to help homosexuals build networks and expand career opportunities. It will include social networking tools and provide information about LGBT cafes, shops and restaurants.
Gay marriage is still illegal in China (as in many countries around the world), and even though both the law and society’s perception of LGBT have seen progress, it's still pretty far from being an all-accepting society. iHomo is meeting a very real need, but an overarching question remains – does it reinforce the attitudes that the LGBT community is trying to change?