Italian photographer Teo Butturini has captured images of young LGBTQ people living in Beijing in the places that are important to them as part of his latest project, which attempts to tackle stigma in China.
Homosexuality was deemed both a criminal offence and a mental illness in China as recently as two decades ago, and enormous stigma remains with many Chinese psychologists believe homosexuality can be “treated” and offer programmes to “turn youths back to heterosexuality”.
Thirty years of single-child policy created an even more difficult situation for LGBTQ people. In a country where the young are expected to provide for their parents and having a son is considered a must, parents often cannot accept that their child is gay, even if they can accept the general idea of homosexuality.
Many young LGBTQ people move from their own villages to big cities, in order to escape ostracism – often those who remain hide their sexuality or are forced into marriages by their parents. Recently the Chinese government issued a document forbidding the airing and publishing of any content related to violence, drug and alcohol abuse, adultery, smoking, reincarnation, homosexuality and any form of behaviour that “exaggerates the dark side of society”.