Updated: Sep 12
Author: Luisa Luo
On the evening of July 6th, 2021, China Standard Time, around 20 LGBTQIA+ advocacy WeChat official accounts associated with high schools and universities were banned permanently, accused of violating the Chinese social media’s management protocols. The incident single-handedly blocked these platforms from spreading their messages to their audience, publishing articles online, and, most importantly, establishing and protecting the LGBTQIA+ community in China. Although the majority of the nation’s population may not have recognized it as such, this was a historical moment that marked the obstacle the young students will always confront when calling for equal rights and representation for minority groups. Discrimination based on sexual orientation has always been a problem in China and change requires time and attention. The social media accounts managed by high school and college students were effective channels for the young generation to amplify their voices and promote equity, equality, and justice. Yet, they are shut down by the officials with ambiguous accusations.
At HOPE, we’re concerned. There is and should be a firm connection between caring for human rights and studying the humanities. Today’s scholars should sow the seeds for a better tomorrow, because the rights and liberties we enjoy today are due to the efforts of scholars yesterday. Consider, for example, the Enlightenment: the first widespread intellectual movement that shed light on individual liberty, toleration, and ethical interpersonal relationships (also known as solidarity). True to the spirit of the movement, thinkers condemned the oppression of minority groups, especially that of religious minorities by the Roman Catholic Church and various monarchies. Of their works, Persian Letters by Montesquieu stands out as a particularly bright satirical social commentary on the 18th-century French society and a call for assimilation and understanding between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As a piece of fictional work, the novel connected and even intertwined the distinct cultures of two worlds––the West and the East and presented a thorough image of how these two environments shaped different groups of people. The spirit of the humanities is the spirit of challenge: a great scholar will actively seek out the most dangerous conflicts to solve by educating society. Because the world is constantly passing from one phase to the next, driven by developments in technology, education, culture and economy, we must always adapt to face new challenges. During the Enlightenment, the most significant global conflicts were religious. In recent centuries, with the emergence of Social Darwinism, Racial Theory and extreme nationalism, we became more invested in solving racism. Today, we must also concern ourselves with the equal rights of the people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual and/or ally (LGBTQIA) and many more on the spectrum of possible sexual orientations. It is our historical responsibility.
The shocking incident leaves many devastated. As is it in our mission to promote the humanities and empower each and every member as individuals, HOPE does not tolerate any hate and/or discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community. In the humanities, we know we should be appreciative towards the different and eager to explore the unfamiliar. The attack on the LGBTQIA+ community is not only unfair to them, it hurts all of us. A deeper understanding of human affairs is only possible if we are allowed to freely express ourselves. HOPE aims to connect open-minded scholars worldwide and use the community as a safe space to explore ideas. As writers, editors, content creators, students, and most importantly, global citizens, we appreciate the respect, compassion, acceptance, and care given for each other. We share the common cause of calling for equity, equality, and justice.
We understand that due to the nation’s political climate, many young, sincere voices are ignored and silenced when they should be strengthened. Therefore, moving forward, we will experiment with the intersection of the humanities and activism, with the end goal of supporting marginalized communities' struggles.