Jin Xing: I don’t want the world to change me too much

Jin Xing is probably the most renown representative of the LGBT society in China. She entered the military’s dance troupe in ShenYang, China, at the age of 9. She was the first Chinese who received full scholarship from the United States and she came to New York to study modern dance. She then went to Europe, including rome, to travel and teach modern dance. In 1995, 26 years old Jin Xing decided to perform a sex reassignment surgery and become a woman. As a well-known choreographer and dancer, Jin Xing now owns her own dance company, her own talk show. She knows five languages and she is a wife, and the mother of three children.


One unique thing about Jin Xing is that, she does not see herself as a transsexual, she see herself as a woman instead. She is successful not as a transgender, but as a person, a woman. People also do not refer her as a transgender woman. If you ask a Chinese about Jin Xing, I believe most of them will regard her as “the legendary female dancer and choreographer”, instead of “a successful transgender woman”. In contrast, Caitlyn Jenner, who just got the ESPY award, is still having an public image of a transgender. Jenner’s speeches, including her show “I am Cait”, emphasize on her process of becoming a women and how hard was it. During our discussion in class, many people said they think Caitlyn was really fake in her show. This is completely opposite with Jin Xing, who is also known as the “poison tongue” in China, because she only say the real words. Jin Xing Also, While Caitlyn Jenner is trying to influence the world of transgender people with her experience, Jin Xing is being a role model herself, as a transgender woman, who is a dancer, choreographer, a talk show host, and a talent show judge. Jin Xing is trying to influence the world by being successful while still being herself.

On the other hand, JinJXg Xing’s determination led to her success. At a young age, Jin Xing was determined that she wants to pursue a career as a dancer. She used hunger strike to persuade her mom to let her learn dancing. Being a transgender in China is definitely more difficult than in the U.S., especially at that time when Jin Xing did the surgery. Transgender was still kind of a taboo and being homosexual was a crime in China. Also, the technology was not that advanced. One has to be really determined to make this decision and to be willing to bear the consequence. An accident during the surgery almost paralyzed her leg and doctor told her she may never be able to walk again. However, she practice hard with her paralyzed leg and believed that she will be able to dance again, and she did.

Jin Xing is definitely one the most influential women in China. She has her own unique way when looking at things including politics and problems in China, and they are always presented in a humorous way in her talk show. Those are her personal ideas and she is speaking by heart. She said that, “I don’t want to change the world, but I also don’t want the world to change me too much. I just want to be myself.”JX2

Alvin Baltrop: The Piers

alvin-baltrop-the-piers-47During the 1970s to 1980s, Manhattan’s West side piers are havens to homosexuals in New York City. After an accident on the highways in West Village, the piers were closed down for safety reason. The abandoned West Village Piers and warehouses then became a “queer playground”. You could not only see hundreds of naked men sunbathing on the piers and having public sex in warehouses, but also prostitution, drug dealings, murders, and mugging. The queers come out of the closet and accept their sexuality in the piers. Queer teenagers who ran away from home see the piers as shelters. A lot of artists and photographers chose to use the things happened at the piers as their subject matters and Alvin Baltrop was one of them. He took thousands of photographs about people’s life at the piers. The photographs represent the expression of the clandestine sexuality of the gay community in public spaces and they remind me of Chauncey’s Gay New York. 

After coming back from the Vietnam war, Baltrop attended the School of Visual Art in New York City. It was from that point he developed a unique view on his photog3382823286_1a5bc8ee24raphy. After deliberation, he decided to settle on the west bank of New York where he realized there were a lot going on at the piers there. He spent days and nights beside the pier so that he could shoot everything that was happening. His photo mostly focus on the marginalization of children and young adults. He documented the issue with male prostitution as well. Most of his photos were of naked men and some are even having sex in front of the camera. Although he was labeled as a bisexual, he often defined himself as homosexual. Despite his sexuality, not only a talented photographer he was but also a altruistic person, he helped with protecting homeless homosexual children. His photos were not famous and were largely criticized because of the issues he documented, until he died.

The photo below is one of Baltrop’s famous works. The photo portrays three naked young man in three different positions, which I think baltopriver_rats_iirsomehow symbolizes the diversity of activities going on at the piers. The position of the man on the right standing in a feminine pose shows how the men are enjoying the “sexual freedom”, but the one man’s face, on the other hand, looks miserable and confused. Maybe it implies that although they had a place where they do not have to hide their sexuality, they wanted to be accepted by the rest of the world outside of the piers. In my opinion, all these photos have similar subject matters, which is the “freedom under restriction”



Similarly, in Chauncey’s Gay New York, one of the main idea is that gays gathers in public and private places such as YMCA, cafeterias, and a lot of places in Greenwich village, which is known at the West Village, where the piers are. The piers can also be considered a “gay world” created by homosexuals. Chauncey suggests that gay men were visible in 1930s and then began to go into closet later on. I wondered why Chauncey say that when so many gay people still gather in public spaces, but when I think deeply, I realized the difference between the piers and the gathering places Chauncey mentioned. The piers were not actually a “pubic” space. They were abandoned and normal people would not go there, unlike the cafeterias and parks, where straight people will also go. From Baltrop’s picture, we can see the filthiness and messiness on the piers and in the warehouses, implying the homosexuals are in unwanted spaces, isolating themselves from the outside world. I think although the piers symbolized freedom, it somehow look like a prison, where freedom is still restricted and they cannot come out.

Alvin Baltrop captured the “freedom” of homosexual men who are trapped in the West Side Piers. It shows the comfort, and also the loneliness and helplessness of people at the piers. Baltrop died in 2004 of cancer.

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Timeless love — Love is Strange

Love is strange. It is strange because it can make two totally unrelated people become the most important one in each other’s life. It is strange because people can be bonded together no matter their sex, and no matter their age. The reason why I chose to write about this movie is that it is about a very unique kind of homosexual relationship.

‘Plain but touching’ is what I will use to describe this movie. It does not have a climax, nor a dramatic twist in the story line. Love is Strange directed by Ira Sachs is about two old gay couple, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), who have been together for 39 years and just got married. After they get married, George get fired by the christian school which he has been teaching for many years. The couple cannot afford their apartment in Manhattan anymore so they have to rely on their family and friends for support.


The first scene of the movie filmed the two old man’s feet side by side on the bed. We can see their rough skin and saggy belly exposing to each other without any discomfort. Everything seems to move so smoothly as they shower, change, and get ready for their big day. The many little details in their life show how they have accepted each other’s flaws. Their relationship is just like any other couples, except that they do not have the particular ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ that straight couple have. Halderstam’s article about female masculinity discussed about the heronic masculinity and the alternative masculinities, but I am wondering after watching this movie, does a relationship must have a “muscular” and “feminine” side? In Ben and George’s relationship, we really cannot tell who is more muscular who is not. Society give people these classifications which I found really useless sometime because many people just can not be included in these classifications. Many people believe that there must be a more ‘man’ or ‘girly’ side in a relationship but Ben and George disproved this view. 

The movie also touches upon the society’s view toward homosexual. During Ben and George’s wedding, everyone is blessing the couple. However, the scene turns to George being fired. It shows the contrast between acceptance and resistance. In the scene when Joey (Eliot’s son)’s friend is posing for Ben’s painting, Joey said, ‘This is so gay!’ and then apologized to Ben. This reflects that people still use ‘gay’ as a negative word, although the society seems to accept gay marriage. Also, when Eliot and his wife Kate realized that their son was hanging out with his friend everyday, they start to worry about their son being homosexual. Kate talked about how Ben and George influenced her during their wedding ceremony, but when it comes to her son, she is still resists this sexual orientation. However, this make us wonder how Ben and George strive through all those years together and finally being able to get married.

The scene I loved the most is when they are walking in an alley after having their little drink in a bar. The two old man walk side by side but not holding hands. It seems like they are the only ones in the busy Manhattan. George walk Ben to the subway and gaze fixedly at Ben as he walk down the stair and until he disappear. The director always uses long shots to give the audience a lot of space to wonder, and to think deeply.

The death of Ben also went very smoothly without any tears shown. Joey brings Ben’s unfinished painting to George. I think it may symbolizes that their love is still not finished.