Chinese Communists started to avoid the term ‘comrade’ because of gays


The Chinese Communist Party is facing derision after it called for members to refer to each other as “comrade”. Under Mao the term reached popularity, but as the country tried to enter the modern world society, the Communists got condemned for using this word. The Chinese word for “comrade” is tóngzhì (同志), which used to be a common term of address in Communist China, used by everyone whether male, female, young, old, rural, urban, party official or peasant. But the thing is that this word is paronymic (sounding and written not totally the same but quite similarly) to the Chinese word tóngxìngliàn (同性恋) meaning same-sex love. It is for this reason that China’s LGBT community came to adopt the term, frequently using the term “tóngzhì” to refer to a fellow gay person. The practice started in Hong Kong in the late 1980s as a way to defy the sexually repressive Communists. Ever since the LGBT community in Mainland China adopted the expression, the bulk of people in the country have started to avoid it. Meanwhile President Xi Jinping is still trying to turn the clock back using ‘comrade’ in its original meaning only. After a meeting last month of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, leaders issued a directive urging party members to forego titles in favor of the revolutionary throwback to “comrade”. They also want the Communist party’s more than 90 million members to refer to him as Party Secretary, not as president. Typical Chinese now use forms of address like “mister” or “miss”, job titles, or familial terms like “sister”, “brother” or “auntie”.


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