chapter  18
17 Pages

That Global Feeling: Sexual Subjectivities and Imagined Geographies in Chinese-Language Lesbian Cyberspaces

ByFRAN MARTIN

This chapter arises from an Internet-based survey of users of Chineselanguage lesbian websites conducted between 2003 and 2004.1 Lesbianthemed websites in Chinese-character formats have blossomed since the mid-1990s, and present varying degrees of complexity, incorporating some or all of chat rooms; guest books; news updates; bulletin board systems; celebrity gossip columns; news on local political and community events; personal ads; advice columns; blogs; Internet fi ction; poetry and artwork archives; lesbian-themed fi lms, comics, music, and TV programs available for download; and so on. The fi rst such sites appeared in Taiwan (and to a lesser extent, Hong Kong) beginning around 1995, and a more recent wave was set up on mainland Chinese servers from the late 1990s.2 Taken together, this group of sites constitutes a signifi cant new area of Internet culture. As well as making antihomophobic information on homosexuality to contest the stigmatizing medical accounts still dominant in mainstream print media in some parts of the Chinese-speaking world (especially nonmetropolitan areas in mainland China) freely available, the new Internet culture makes up a substantial, lively, and expanding Chinese-language electronic network potentially linking women of diverse social backgrounds who are widely geographically dispersed. Given the potential for transnational linkage apparent in these relatively recent developments, the aim of my survey was to investigate whether these developments are producing new kinds of “minor transnationalism” and “virtual community,” linking women across the region and the globe on the twin bases of sexual (lesbian) and cultural/ethnic (Chinese) identifi cation.3 On a more conceptual level, the survey aimed to produce a kind of sketch-map of how experiences of sexual identifi cation intersected with the ways in which the users of these sites imagined their own geocultural place in the world.