Visibility of Gay People Reflects Changes in China

SHANGHAI — The rush hour crush had just subsided on a stifling recent summer evening, when I stepped into the subway car on the circular line that serves the central city as part of the brilliant public transportation system Shanghai has built in what seems like no time at all.

Hot and bothered from hours of photographing on the street, I was relieved to find an empty seat by the door and promptly collapsed into it, savoring the refreshing gusts of air-conditioning.

A moment passed before I looked up and paid any attention to the other passengers. As the lone foreigner usually in situations like these, I had become accustomed during my summer stay in the city to finding all eyes focused on me. This time, though, commuters had something further out of the bounds of their daily commute to focus on.

Seated directly opposite me, two teenage girls were kissing in an unmistakably romantic way. They appeared to be no older than 17. One of them, strong of build and with short hair, was dressed and coiffed in a masculine style. Her longhaired companion, who was dressed in a pretty pastel skirt, was the picture of classic, old-school sweet 16.

(By Howard French, The New York Times)

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