Every time Benjamin Zhang talks about marriage, he uses the following words in abundance: "job," "duty," "my parents," "problem," and "urgent".
"The most urgent matter for me now is to find a spouse. I'm not young anymore. I see my peers getting married one by one and having kids, and I have nothing. I just feel very dejected," said the 31-year-old native of the northeastern city of Harbin -- who also admits he loves children and hopes to have his own one day. "When I'm married and have a child, I'd have done my job as a son. That's most important for me."
Benjamin shares the anxiety of millions other bachelors in China, where it's almost a given that people of a marriageable age set off to start a family.
But unlike most of them, Benjamin is looking for a lesbian wife.
Benjamin is gay, and he's trying to obtain a xinghun - a new Chinese term coined to describe a "cooperative marriage" between a gay man and a lesbian woman. The marriage, essentially, is a sham: both the husband and wife continue to have their own same-sex partners and may not even live together.
Experts and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community say that the fact LGBT people still feel compelled to conform to social norms, marry someone of the opposite sex and bear a child proves that they still have their work cut out for them in trying to change traditional societal attitudes and eliminate discrimination against homosexuality.