Vocabulary your professor won’t teach you
Instructors and textbooks tasked with teaching you Chinese have a big task to conquer. With hundreds of grammar rules, thousand of characters, and millions of words to teach you, some things understandably slip through the cracks. While topics like introducing yourself or navigating an airport obviously take precedent for beginners, over time topics like stomach ailments or “brand-name fever” (I’m looking at you Crossing Cultural Boundaries: The Routledge Advanced Chinese Multimedia Course) feel pretty arbitrary. If you’ve ever wanted to discuss being gay in Chinese and felt like you couldn’t, then this is the guide for you. With these 15 gay Chinese vocab terms you should be able to navigate gay bars and dating apps in China with ease. For even more colloquial sayings/slang in Chinese, Dirty Chinese: Everyday Slang lists and explains hundreds of terms; however, once you reach a certain level of fluency searching online might be your best bet at find the most up-to-date slang terms.
#1 同志 (tóngzhì) = gay (person)
In a literal sense, “同志” means comrade. While the exact etymology of this slang term is unknown, gay men in China similar to their counterparts in the former USSR began appropriating the communist term comrade to describe themselves in the late 1980s. In dictionaries, “男同性恋者” (man + same sex + love + person) is the official term for gay men. However, across the Chinese speaking world, “同志” is the term that people are actually using more often.
Mùdì de shì běijīng zuìdà tóngzhì jiǔbā.
Destination is is Beijing’s largest gay bar.
#2 熊族 (xióngzú) = bear
“Bear race” is used pretty much in the exact same way in Chinese gay slang as bear is used in western queer vernacular. If you don’t already know the term bear, Urban dictionary defines it as: a word used by gay men to describe a husky, large man with a lot of body hair.
Nǐ rènwéi tā shì bùshì xióng zú?
Do you consider him a bear?
#3 龙族 (lóngzú) = power gay
The term “dragon race” is used to describe successful, attractive, powerful, gay men. Chinese bloggers online claim that this is the most precious type of gay – they’re the cream of the crop in the gay world. This term isn’t as widely used in the west, but it is gaining traction in China and Taiwan.
Wǒ xiǎng chéngwéi yī wèi lóngzú.
I want to become a power gay.
#4 狼族 (lángzú) = jock
“Wolf race” is the way to describe a jock in Chinese gay vernacular. A jock as defined by Urban Dictionary is “a buff, muscular, masculine, young dood.”
Tóngzhì zú qízhōng láng zú zuì shòudào huānyíng.
Of they types of gay men, jocks are the most popular.
#5 猫族 (māozú) = twink
There is no exact translation for the English word twink in Chinese; however, 猫族 is pretty close. If twink is a rectangle, then “Cat race” is a square; all those who are 猫族 are feminine, clean-cut, twinks. In the English context, a twink is “usually considered a homosexual male with attractive, boyish qualities. Typically from the ages of 18-25.”
Mark bùshì xióng zú, ér shì māo zú！
Mark isn’t a bear, he’s a twink!
#6 父族 (fùzú) = daddies
This one is as straightforward as it gets. “Dad race” in Chinese is daddies in English. However, unlike the other “race” examples given above, this term is only used to describe daddies as a collective. You would refer to a singular daddy as just 爸爸.
Fù zú zǒng shì fùzhàng.
Daddies always pay the bill.
#7 出柜 (chū guì) = coming out
Adopted from the western metaphor of closeted or out of the closet, 出柜 literally means leaving the closet. This is a verb object pairing, but the two are seldom split apart with modifiers when used in the context of gay slang.
Chū guì shì zhǒng zěnyàng de tǐyàn?
What type of experience is coming out?
#8 零 (líng) or 0 = bottom
Open any Chinese gay dating and the men’s profiles will be using numbers between 0 and 1 to describe themselves. On one end of the spectrum, 0 represents total bottoms.
Mark, èrshíyī suì, 0, 163cm
Mark, 21 years old, bottom, 163cm tall
#9 一 (yī) or 1 = top
Open any Chinese gay dating and the men’s profiles will be using numbers between 0 and 1 to describe themselves. On one end of the spectrum, 1 represents total tops.
Mark, èrshíyī suì, 1, 163cm
Mark, 21 years old, top, 163cm tall
#10 一零 (yīlíng)or 10 or 0.5 or 1/2 = vers
Open any Chinese gay dating and the men’s profiles will be using numbers between 0 and 1 to describe themselves. In the middle of the spectrum you have 0.5 or completely verse. Some men even use other fractions to signal to others how they lean as verse men. For example, 0.75 would mean that one is a vers-top.
Mark, èrshíyī suì, 1/2, 163cm
Mark, 21 years old, vers, 163cm tall
#11 约炮 (yuēpào) = hookup
One of the dirtier terms on the list, hookup literally translated means planned explosion (read: planned ejaculation). This term applies to gay or straight hookups. It is also used to describe one night stands.
Wǒ xiǎng yuē pào, dàn tā bù xǐhuān wǒ.
I want to hookup, but he doesn’t like me.
#12 同妻 (tóngqī) = homo-wife
This is a Chinese term that we do not have in English. Homo-wives are female spouses to gay men. It is implied that they do not know that their husbands are gay. This is generally a term of pity used by Chinese media. At the present, the term actually carries an anti-LGBTQ connotation. So, if you ever read an article about 同妻 know that the author might very well have some anti-LGBTQ unconscious biases.
Tóng qī de shùliàng dàodǐ shì duōshǎo?
How many homo-wives really are there?
#13 性取向 (xìng qǔxiàng) = sexual orientation
The term “sex” + “orientation” is fairly self explanatory. Sexual orientation isn’t the most commonly used term in China – it sounds a bit formal and clunky, but it’s useful to know. If you ever want total clarity on if someone is gay, you can always ask them what their orientation is.
Nǐ dì xìng qǔxiàng shì shénme?
What is your sexual orientation?
#14 伪娘 (wěiniáng) = crossdressers
Not exactly the most politically correct term on the books, 伪娘 directly translates as fake woman. Translation apps will often tell you that the term means transexual or transgender, but the term is most commonly used to describe cross dressers or men who dress as women.
Wěiniáng shì yī zhǒng xíngwéi yìshù.
Crossdressing counts as a type of performance art.
#15 猪族 (zhūzú) = pig
The gay English term pig is translated into Chinese as 猪族 or pig race. The term refers to gay men – normally bottoms – who are into kink play. Frequent hookups are often associated with those described with 猪族, although that is not the terms original meaning.
Zhū zú chángcháng qù nà jiā jiǔbā.
Pigs often go to that bar.
For another vocab lessons that your professor won’t teach you check out Chinese Feminism: Vocab Everyone Should Know. Let us know in the comments below if you’d like more out-of-the-textbooks vocabulary lessons. If you liked this post please make sure to share it, pin it, or tweet it!