The Current Status Of The LGBT Community In China

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Gender identity and expression. The diversity of the sexes and their ways of expressing themselves through fashion.

The first is for gender recognition, on the clothing, rethinking the lines between what is socially acceptable for both males and females. The LGBT+ community for sex is open to the fashion industry has brought a great deal of enlightenment, wearing skirts, men in high heels, heavy make-up wearing jewellery, transsexuals, those in society's eyes look amazing dress in the fashion industry has become a new generation of agitation.(Shishi Kang 2018)(Fig 8-9). Unisex style is considered the new sexy to Chinese fashion consumers, who want this type of comfortable look.

When gender blurs into fashion, men and women will clash with each other in clothes.(Fig 10-11) Most clothes have no gender boundary, and many men will wear women's clothes as a kind of match. Women will also wear men's clothes to follow a neutral trend. Some men even dress as women. These men might be gay or straight, but simply put they identify their true selves in woman’s clothing as opposed to men’s clothing. This kind of behavior can be defined as expressing their true gender identity. Figure 12 illustrates “women wear bosses”, and how this behavior is gradually being accepted by a greater number of the general population in China.

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Social & fashion movements: LGBT+ Pride Month in Shanghai China

Changes in social acceptance and space for improvement. Shanghai Pride Week is the city's first and largest unofficial Pride festival, It the first LGBT+ Pride Festival on the mainland. How have people used fashion to support Shanghai Pride and the LGBT+ cause.

Shanghai Pride Festival is held every June in Shanghai and includes a film festival, theatre festival, conference, exhibition and a charity bazaar. There are thousands of supporters in Shanghai that participated in all sorts of activities. NIKE + RUN CLUB was a Shanghai pride festival gold sponsor and will released their latest Be True series shoes at around the same time. Most of the participants of the Rainbow Run were given free Nike apparel including a sport T-shirt. NIKE’s support among the Shanghai LGBT+ community grew a lot with this marketing promotion. NIKE also found a way to promote their own brand to new fashion consumers (Fig 13-14).

In recent years, a lot of Chinese fashion designers have started some new brands and some of them have started to design products for LGBT pride month.

Fashion movements characterized by androgynous aesthetic Chinese designers incorporating LGBT+ elements into their designers – Case study of designer Li Yiyang (Elsbeth Paridon 2019).

Li Yiyang is one of the few Chinese designers who have incorporated LGBT+ elements into his designs. Through combining a celebration of sheer queer culture, fashion and be-bang be-bang weightlifter “guns”, he has firmly taken control of his life and personal image through fashion. The question becomes how does the development of China’s fashion scene move toward the maturing of the nation’s LGBT community and culture?(Elsbeth Paridon 2019)(Fig 15-16)

Li Yiyang redefines the boundary between men and women by combining LGBT+ elements with Chinese ones. She combines both masculine and feminine features to not only find true freedom, but true self expression and identity. Li Yiyang has developed China's gender-ambiguous fashion and played a leading role for the LGBT+ community to enter China's fashion industry.

Fashion is a way of personalized self expression and an individuals fashion sense reveals who they are to the outside world. As LI phrases it, “they represent our thoughts, they show a major glimpse of who we are, where we are going, what kind of person we want to be, what we are working toward and who we want to be.”

What he has done is to tell the people who don’t understand this community that LGBT+ community is just a part of the social community and needs to be treated as equal.

For this reason, fashion is the best way to express the inner feelings of the LGBT+ community. By showing people who you really, one no longer need to hide in the shadows. Through fashion, we can raise the profile of LGBT+ cause and bring issues to the forefront of people’s minds. LGBT+ can begin to identify as mainstream.

If the LGBT+ community does not have enough awareness, the question is how can the movement build awareness in people that do not have a full understanding of LGBT+ people. In some areas, there are people that are not even aware of the word “homosexuality”. They believe that love and marriage are only limited to men and women. Therefore, it is very important to promote the awareness of the LGBT+ community, which is the basis for improving the situation of the LGBT+ community.

Luxury brands have not only tapped into East Asia’s lucrative LGBTQ+ Market, but also have designed products that promote awareness and support of the LGBT+ Market. These are the reasons for the consumption of luxury goods by LGBT+ group.

Presently, many fashion brands and enterprises are have a core business strategy of associating with the LGBT+ community, which can bring avant-garde, free, open and inclusive reputation. It is a proven fact that the brands which are friendly to the LGBT+ community can gain the support and loyalty of such an important segment of fashion consumers.

The reason for this is to tap into new consumer revenue streams of high earning individuals with disposable income. Furthermore, nearly all luxury fashion labels have a high ranking member of the LGBT+ community on their design teams, further opening up their acceptance of LGBT+ culture. As a result, these brands heavily market to this segment of the population in order to increase sales and customers. In a sense, they have opened up the closet doors and have adopted “Rainbow Marketing”.

Since 2009, LVMH group has formulated anti-discrimination guidelines. Since 2011, LVMH has provided its employees with anti-discrimination and harassment training. At the end of this year, LVMH group will conduct a training program with the theme of “unconscious bias and inclusiveness” for employees in key positions around the world. LVMH’s chief executive officer and executive committee members have made a full commitment to 1) respect LGBT + employees, fashion consumers, and members of the human rights community, 2) eliminate workplace discrimination of LGBT + group, support the LGBT + employees in the work, 3) show no discrimination against LGBT + group of consumers, suppliers and distributors, and 4) ask their partner companies to abide by the same code of conduct, and carry out the business community in LGBT + group to defend their human rights (Sina Fashion, 2019)(Fig 17).

Currently, Burberry is working with three LGBT+ charities to raise more support from around the world for the rainbow community. As a result of this, Burberry has presented a brand new rainbow collection to show their spirit of inclusiveness and convey the joy of diversity. Christopher Bailey, the departing creative director, said: “My final Burberry collection is dedicated to helping some of the world’s leading organisations that support LGBTQ+ youth, and I have never felt so strongly that multiculturalism is in our strength and creativity.” (Kenzie Wang 2018) This collection was allowed to sell in China, and the fact that it was not censored in any way is a huge step in the right direction for LGBT+ awareness and acceptance.

Chinese millennials with increasing purchasing power have become the most important target consumer group for luxury brands. It is necessary for marketers to dig deeper into their attitudes and interests so to capture this profit and revenue increasing segments attention. Chinese millennials yearn for freedom and diversity. One area that showcases this mentality is their interest in exploring blurred gender roles. A gender-neutral look empowers them to challenge conventional views on femininity and masculinity. Through working with androgynous-looking brand ambassadors, some luxury brands have successfully made use of this mentality. (Ruonan Zheng, November 2017)

East Asian Fashion movements representing Genderless Fashion: The influence of LGBT+ on this movement.

As stated above, he clothes people wear reveal the most obvious and personal information about them to the world. Mixing up the craft of clothing design and that of different visuals leaves a lot of room for many different interpretations to come to artistic fruition. Androgyny has become a key signifier of generation Y. In years past, it was rare to see a female model with male like features, including short hair. At fashion weeks of the past, gender roles usually defined how a woman should look and how a man should look. Lines were never crossed nor blurred. At Shanghai Fashion week, one can see numerous amounts of models with short boyish hairstyles. At the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Singer and Actress Chris Li proudly wore man like clothes in haute couture. Chris Lee is China’s biggest pop star and does not fit the typical mould of the cookie cutter Chinese celebrities of the past. She displays genderless features by having short, spiky hair, and a wardrobe full of Balenciaga-style, oversized mannish pieces, and luxe sportswear (e.g. Gucci tracksuits, beanie hats and Nike trainers). Li isn’t the only celebrity bringing attention to this movement. Superstar pop music group Fanxyred is known at China’s most popular boy band despite being all female. Dr. Tommy Tse states that such celebrities “construct their gender-fluid androgynous image to appeal to the LGBT+ community and fans, and the very fact that this is mainstream signals a huge shift in what is socially acceptable and sets a new bar for social norms (Suen 2019).

With regard to the design of the clothing, gender androgynous style gives designers more inspiration and creative space. It is as if the the skirt no longer exclusively belongs to women. Many designers have begun to apply the skirt to suit men’s clothing design. When a man wears such dress, he will not feel like a woman, but feels like a soldier. Constructing this message shows that this type of style is accepted by mainstream culture. By positioning the most feminine article of clothing, the skirt, into one of the most masculine constructs of that of a soldier, it is proving that androgynous style is being more accepted by mainstream consumers.

In terms of modeling and the market for cosmetics, East Asian males have dominted the fashion trends. Trends have been gradually inclined to the feature soft feminine beauty. Many beauty brands endorse color makeup that is worn by male stars. Women’s position is gradually losing visibility, from magazine covers to makeup endorsements. Put simply, color makeup is not just a female accessory anymore by woman, but has gradually become adopted by males as well. (Fig 18)

The status of gay designers and transgender models in the fashion industry

The Fashion industry is the most gay-tolerant industry in the world. LGBT+ fashion designers and transgender models (21st Century Models 2017) are recognized for their strength and are not discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, but usually celebrated and worshipped as demi-god type creatures that personify traits of talent and success.

Nicola Formichetti, one of the biggest names in fashion, is a powerful force. Formichetti is the openly gay Italian-Japanese artistic director for Diesel. He has Lady Gaga on speed dial. Formichetti is responsible for the Mother Monster’s “meat dress” that Lady Gaga infamously wore to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. By collaborating with the newcomer Gaga, he entered the world of high fashion. Since then, the two have collaborated several times. Because of this partnership with Formichetti, Lady Gaga saw her fame catapult into new heights and was thought of one of the most fashion forward individuals on the planet. Aside from putting Diesel back on the map, Formichetti is also fashion director of Vogue Hommes Japan and the fashion director for the clothing brand Uniqlo. In other words, Formichetti is a multifaceted talent and he looks perfect while doing it (Fig 19).

Lea T is the world’s first transgender supermodel. Her father is a football star. Born in Lea Cerezo in 1981, she has a fantastic working relationship with famous Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci. In fact, Lea T was encouraged by Tisci to stay true to herself and undergo a gender change. She started out as an assistant of Tisci. Tisci saw her shine and decided to use her as a model for his AD campaign. Then, she stepped on the international stage and caused quite a stir at the time. (21st Century Models 2017)(Fig 20). Even though this caused some controversy, she was accepted in the high fashion community. Because this community holds such influence over world culture, she was accepted by more celebrities and as a result, the mainstream media in some western countries.

In China, the first transgender woman, Zhang Kesha, changed her gender through surgery in 1983. Due to antiquated social acceptance views, at that time, Zhang Kesha choose to escape the mainland and live an incognito life in Hong Kong. With the acceptance of LGBT+ as a social norm, celebrities like this can come out of the shadows and step into the light. The most famous transgender Chinese is Jin Xing. Jin Xing is not only known as famous dancer, but also has her unique fashion style and fashion taste. Just like high profile LGBT+ individuals in the west, high profile LGBT+ members of the Chinese community have a certain degree of influence on the fashion industry.


Admittedly, there are still many people who oppose the LGBT+ community and regard them as the monsters or psychopaths. However, under the guise of the fashion industry, the rights and acceptance of LGBT+ individuals is gradually improving. Increasing numbers of people know and are in contact with fashion through various ways, proving that fashion is the simplest and most effective way to promote LGBT+ community awareness. It is a proven fact that Homosexuality is not shameful and it can be pure and beautiful just like heterosexuality. Meanwhile, transgender people are even more innocent of the hatefulness that is directed toward them. A person’s sexual orientation is his/her own thing, and they can choose whether to announce it or not. No one can deprive others of this most basic right.

For centuries, fashion has been an important tool of expression of freedom for the LGBT+ community. With the inclusion and acceptance of fashion for LGBT+ groups, as well as the influence of fashion on mainstream culture, the development trend LGBT+ rights have gradually become more accepted. The question now becomes we can do going forward to give this important segment of the population a normal attitude and respect their life choices. In the future, under the influence of fashion, LGBT+ groups will have more opportunities to show their true selves and integrate even more into mainstream society. The people of the LGBT+ community can know they do not need to hide behind a curtain anymore and that society is no longer as conservative as it used to be. It will also encourage LGBT+ people in East Asia to accept themselves and face reality bravely.

Taiwan, as the first city in East Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, has experienced many rainbow movements. Under the guidance of fashion, LGBT+ groups in all parts of East Asia can organize positive and positive rainbow movements to let more people contact and understand this group. By doing so, it can promote the development of the LGBT+ community, expand the coverage of the legalization of same-sex marriage, help this group truly integrate into the society, obtain the same treatment as heterosexuals, and strive for all equal rights and acceptance.

The LGBT+ community can inspire the development of fashion and provide more inspiration and space for creating new designs. For brands, they can design products for LGBT+ Pride Month. Supporting the LGBT+ community and promoting the awareness of this community is not only a good publicity for themselves, but also a good way to win the favour and consumption of the LGBT+ community in general.

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