High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a six minute long video from WeChat made by Tibetan students at Southwest Minzu University, formerly Southwest University for Nationalities, in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. The video interviews students on campus and asks them questions about their views on homosexuality (མཚན་མཐུན་དགའ་རོགས mtshan mthun dga’ rogs).
The video was originally published on WeChat on March 25, 2019 by a channel called Chamyang Jampa and has subsequently been re-posted and re-shared, for example on April 23, 2020 and as recently as in December 2020. The original published video was seen over 7000 times. Scroll down to see the subtitled video and also the transcript.
It is still fairly unusual to see open discussions on this topic on Tibetan social media so this student journalist video gives valuable insights into the views of young people. The piece also features the song “Snow Lion of Peace” by exile Tibetan singer Techung on the soundtrack. The video was shared with the following introduction from the admin of the WeChat channel:
“I Have Something to Ask You: Tibetan Students Share Their Views on Homosexuality”
By Chamyang Jampa
The main topic for today’s program is same-sex relationships. Same-sex relationships are a real issue both inside and outside of the country. However, in Tibetan society this might be an issue that many are unfamiliar with. Therefore, today we’re going to go out on my school campus and find out what students think about same-sex relationships.
Recently many countries around the world have legalized homosexuality. And in countries like Holland and Norway, same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption have been legalized. Similarly, in the famous reporter Chai Jing’s book Insight she writes the reason we can’t accept same-sex relationships is because in our conceptions of gender, reproductive function has been seen as the end goal (for relationships), and in this way ignorance has become a virtue. Love should be between two souls, not between two opposite genders.
From this video, we can get an initial understanding of what Tibetan youth think about homosexuality and I am sure that after you have watched it, you will all have your very own thoughts and feelings.
If you have suggestions for topics or other matters regarding our program, feel free to send us a private message through our WeChat account. We will get back to you as soon as we can.
Thank you for watching,
See you next time!
Below is the full English translation transcript of the video:
Hello everyone, welcome to “I have something to ask you”. The main topic for today’s program is same-sex relationships. Same-sex relationships are a real issue both inside and outside of the country. However, in Tibetan society this might be an issue that many are unfamiliar with. Therefore, today we’re going to go out on my school campus and find out what students think about same-sex relationships.
Question 1 (00.32 onwards)
Can you accept same-sex relationships?
No, I can’t.
No, I can’t.
No, I can’t.
No, I can’t.
I can accept them among girls. For boys, I can’t accept them.
Yes, I can.
Yes, I can.
From my own perspective I don’t have any particular thoughts about homosexual and heterosexual relationships. If it was somebody close to me I could accept it.
If it was for myself, I wouldn’t. But if it was for others it’s not something I’d argue against.
When I was in Tibet I’d never heard of such a thing. However, coming to the mainland, and expanding my point of view, I heard about these kinds of things. At first I was shocked and found it frightening. But now having thought about it, I don’t think it is anything I can’t accept.
Question 2 (1:24 onwards)
If your friend were homosexual would you be able to accept it?
If it was a friend of mine, it is not something that I can’t accept because everyone has different ways of thinking. I can’t go against my friend just because it’s something I cannot personally accept.
I think as a Tibetan it’s not suitable. It’s okay if they are Chinese.
I wouldn’t be able to accept even if they were a friend.
If they weren’t trying to influence people around them, I don’t think there’s anything to accept or not accept. Everybody has their own happiness – it doesn’t have anything to do with whether I accept it or not.
It’s their freedom. Nothing to argue about. I would accept it.
There’s no difference. They have their freedom and it’s their personal choice. I don’t have anything to criticize them for.
Question 3 (2:23 onwards)
How would you characterize the levels of acceptance of homosexuality in Tibetan society?
I think, as I said before, for example, in the 80’s and 90’s I don’t think anybody knew about homosexuality. At that time if people encountered homosexuality suddenly, they would be shocked. However, gradually people have grown more accepting. For example, in the monasteries, when the game of football first arrived it was restricted by the Lama’s. It’s part of the modernization process, nobody can stop it, and therefore now there are all kinds of sports and games in the monastery. And so, if (acceptance of) homosexuality is growing around the world, I don’t think Tibet will be left behind. More and more people will accept it.
In Tibetan society, I don’t think the level of acceptance has necessarily increased, nor do I have such a hope. First, for example, even if there are homosexuals in Tibetan society there are mainly among students and the youth. Secondly, even if some people accept them, there are going to be large parts of society gossiping and criticizing them, causing great emotional harm. For these reasons, I don’t think it’s getting any better.
Honestly speaking it’s not a subject I’m really familiar with. However, generally speaking I think very few people accept homosexuality. In the future, it will increase in tow with global progress, from a few people to the majority.
Conclusion (4.23 onwards)
From these interviews we can get a sense of Tibetan students’ views on homosexuality. Recently many countries around the world have legalized homosexuality. And in countries like Holland and Norway, same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption have been legalized. Similarly, in the famous reporter Chai Jing’s book Insight she writes the reason we can’t accept same-sex relationships is because in our conceptions of gender, reproductive function has been seen as the end goal (for relationships), and in this way ignorance has become a virtue. Love should be between two souls, not between two opposite genders. This is a time of great progress and liberalization. Maybe some people cannot accept same sex relationships, however, we absolutely cannot discriminate against them (homosexuals). Because love is a personal freedom and everyone has their own happiness. I’ll leave today’s program here and if you have any feedback please leave it below.
Translation by High Peaks Pure Earth