Chinese athlete Sun Wenjing has bravely come out as queer and shared lovely photos of her partner on social media.
The outlet said the date one that many Chinese couples choose to register their marriage on, because the repetition of the number 9 is seen as a symbol of eternity.
“She doesn’t need to do anything, but I am surrendered time and again,” Sun wrote on the social media platform. “She is the whole part of me, for one year and another.”
The 26-year-old is a member of a commercial volleyball club in Beijing and plays as a specialist setter. She almost qualified for China’s national volleyball team, but she didn’t end up making the final cut.
Sun’s post reportedly received over 48,000 likes and thousands of supportive comments on Weibo, according to SCMP. One person said the couple is “beautiful” and described them as “blessings”.
Another person said the two women are “brave”. They added: “I don’t know when I and my lover can act like you and your girlfriend in public, by not hiding our sex orientation at all.”
When questioned about how it felt to be in love, Sun’s girlfriend said it was “incredible happiness” because she “satisfies all your weird and over-the-top requests”.
“A right lover spoils you so much,” she added.
China officially decriminalised homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from its official list of mental disorders in 2001.
But same-sex marriage is still not recognised in China, and LGBT+ people struggle for legal and social acceptance in the country. There are also very few Chinese celebrities that are openly part of the LGBT+ community.
Earlier this year, Chinese footballer Li Ying made headlines after she came out publicly and introduced her girlfriend to the world. The acclaimed footballer posted a picture of herself and her girlfriend Chen Leilei, a Chinese influencer, on Weibo in celebration of their first anniversary together.
She wrote that her girlfriend is the “source and objective of all my tenderness”.
LGBT+ spaces have also faced an ongoing clampdown in China. This seemingly came to a head in July when China’s most popular messaging app WeChat suddenly shut down dozens of LGBT+ accounts run by university students.
Another popular messaging platform, QQ, reportedly banned the words “gay”, “lesbian” and “LGBT”, saying the LGBT+ words are “harmful information”.
Earlier this month, China banned “sissy” effeminate men from making an appearance on TV. The official instruction to broadcasters from the Chinese government is part of a “national rejuvenation” campaign to “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture”.
The government’s TV regulator declared broadcasters must “resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal aesthetics” on screen. Broadcasters were also told not to promote “vulgar internet celebrities” or any figure that has “lost morality”.
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