February 2, 2024

How to Say Gay in Chinese

If you are a gay man in China or just someone interested in Chinese culture, you may have wondered how to say homosexual in chinese. There are a couple of different ways to do it. The official word is Tong Xing Lian Zhe (tongzhi), but it has some negative connotations in modern times so many people use other slang terms. The most common is probably Niangniangqiang (niang neng qiang) which means sissy, but it can also be used to describe anyone who seems feminine. Another slang term is Nu Tong Zhi (nu tong zhi) which refers to someone who is a lesbian.

Several recent editions of Chinese dictionaries have excluded the word tongzhi. One of the editors, Nan Feng, said the word had too much political baggage and did not reflect the current social attitudes in the Chinese society. The omission is controversial amongst the gay community in China and abroad because the word is widely used by CCP people, older Chinese who grew up during the Mao era, and gay people in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

According to Ding Xueliang, a professor of social sciences at the University of Hong Kong, the omission is a reflection of growing tolerance of gay rights in China. Some people have claimed that the omission of tongzhi shows that Chinese moral values are moving backwards, but Ding disagrees. The fact is, he says, that there are many people in Hong Kong and Taiwan who use tongzhi to make fun of the Communist terminology in mainland China, where politicians address each other using the term tongzhi — for example, Hu Jintao tongzhi or Wen Jiabao tongzhi.


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