The Golden Orchid

After a long stretch of Grace stepping up and saving the day by writing the articles, Laura is back and excited to talk about Golden Orchid Society. The Golden Orchid Society was a collection of organizations in South China that began during the Qing dynasty and existed from approximately 1644 to 1949 when they were banned because they were associated with an attempt to overthrow the Manchu Emperor. Over the course of 300 years, however, they created an order of women who stood in solidarity with other women against heterosexual marriages that were oppressive at best and far too often abusive. While some of the women may have been heterosexual and avoiding marriage for reasons unrelated to their sexuality, it was common for members of the association to be lesbians or bisexual. They found the safety and family in the Golden Orchid Society that their biological relatives had never provided them.

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The Bitten Peach and the Cut Sleeve

We move now from Germany to ancient China, to two of the most famous gay couples in Chinese history and the sources of some of the most recognizable queer symbols in China: the bitten peach and the torn sleeve. While these are not common symbols in most Western media, it is used in China as code phrases for relationships between two men. Though the stories may have been slightly distorted throughout the years, both are still very important parts of queer history.

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