The Silent Death of Shanghai’s First Gay Hotline

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THE OWNER of Lai Lai’s, Shanghai’s only dance venue for low-income gays, was screaming over the five-piece band. She accused our small contingent of safer sex outreach workers of attracting police scrutiny, telling us to get out of her dancehall and never come back. Dr. Tong Chengliang, sex education specialist and director of HomoHeart, the city’s first specifically gay hotline and outreach organization, told his volunteers to grab their bags of condoms and gay sex literature and leave. Even in relatively open Shanghai in the summer of 2005, police harassment in China was so commonplace that Tong just shrugged his shoulders and said, “We’ll try again next week.”

In December of that year, Tong mysteriously sent his staff and volunteers at the HomoHeart Hotline a message ordering them never to return to the office. From then on,

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