Buzzy new LGBT marriage app iHomo, created by a Chinese lesbian couple, will be launching its beta version this month. 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 LGBT individuals seeking xinghun arrangements, has seen incredible user numbers since day one, and iHomo hopes to replicate its success.
One the one hand, the ‘loophole’ marriages testify to the solidarity of the LGBT community in China, but on the other, subscribe to the idea that 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 users 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, 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 purporting to accommodate a genuine societal need, but it seems obvious that it only serves to reinforce the attitudes that the LGBT community would hope to change in the long-term.