Negotiating Performances of “Real” Marriage in Chinese Queer Xinghun

Shuzhen Huang, Daniel Brouwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This article explores how marriage is negotiated by Chinese queer subjects who face tension between the heteronormative expectations of their families and their desire to maintain a same-sex relationship. Specifically, we critically assess the cultural performances of xinghun (形婚), or contract marriage between a gay man and a lesbian woman. Focusing on the experiences of queer Chinese women, we investigate the enactment of marriage and gender dynamics in xinghun. Our analysis of personal accounts and online discourse in personal ads shows how Chinese queer subjects perform the “realness” of heteronormativity in their queer marriages. We argue that xinghun is an ambivalent cultural formation that at once reproduces heteronormativity and contests gender and sexual norms in a heteropatriarchal society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-158
Number of pages19
JournalWomen's Studies in Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018


  • China
  • marriage
  • performativity
  • queer
  • xinghun

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Communication


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