The Besieged Rainbow

Dispatches from an ally of China’s LGBT movement – Xiaoyu Lu

The phone call came in at seven or eight in the night. After saying hello, the voice paused. As I was about to hang up,  the voice asked whether I worked for the UN. Yes, I answered. He explained that he was calling from the hotel which we booked for the conference participants. He hesitated again. Is there anything wrong? I asked.

There had been a group of strangely dressed people at the reception, he said, and the hotel would like to confirm whether I had really invited them. I could have started a lengthy lecture about the term “strangely dressed people,” but I did not. Yes, we invited them, I confirmed. I detected a tone of embarrassment in his next question. He asked what kind of conference we were holding, and whether it had been registered with the Public Security Bureau. I raised my voice, and in a solemn manner said it was a UN conference on public health, and there was neither need nor obligation to register. He couldn’t come up with a reply, and hung up.


Double Dissidents

The cognitive dissonance of overseas Chinese students – Xiaoyu Lu

“Why were you defending an authoritarian regime?”

Tina, a friend from Comparative Politics class, asked me this as we walked out of the seminar room. We had began our graduate course at Oxford three years ago, and both carried on with doctoral research in Politics. Despite the occasional hostilities between our home countries (China and the US), we quickly became close friends and suspended the ideological differences between us. Still, her question left me half shocked and half puzzled. During the past two hours, we had been debating furiously about the “doomed future of democratization” and the “crisis of liberal democracy.” As usual, I was critical of mainstream political thought, especially any definition of democracy that delimits itself to a few institutional yardsticks, along with a tone of moral proselytism that renders democracy as a dividing battle between us and them.