Assessing the Tongzhi Label
Tongzhi is one of several Chinese terms that refer to individuals who are attracted to the same sex. Using data from two different surveys in Hong Kong, this research note examines how the term tongzhi coexists with other terms. We investigate the prevalence of self-identification as tongzhi, and we explore the extent to which using the term tongzhi influences public attitudes toward gay people and gay rights. Activists began popularizing the term tongzhi in the late 1980s, but less than one third of the participants in our 2008 survey of sexual orientation minorities (n=728) described themselves as tongzhi. Using a split-ballot experiment in a 2013 public opinion poll (n=831), we found that attitudes toward gay people and gay rights were not significantly impacted by whether questions were phrased in terms of tongzhi or the main alternative term tongxinglianzhe. We discuss how our findings can enrich understandings of earlier research and illuminate avenues for future study.