• It's hard for Chinese homosexuals to come out, especially if they've landed jobs in a government office.

It's hard for Chinese homosexuals to come out, especially if they've landed jobs in a government office. (Photo : REUTERS)

Social constructs, pressure, threats, and less-than-desirable job prospects are some of the things that hinder gay government workers from coming out. These factors are all part of workplace conservatism, which is prevalent across government offices in China.

Such is the story of 25-year-old Cheng He (pseudonym), a closeted gay man who works at a government-affiliated research center in Beijing. He plans on coming out to his mother and closest friends, but coming out in the workplace is a different matter altogether.

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"It's impossible for me to disclose my sexual orientation at the office," Cheng told the Global Times in an interview. "I don't think it's necessary and my colleagues would not accept me being gay anyway."

For many Chinese, securing a government job is respectable and guarantees a stable income, and it is a kind of work that many Chinese gay men are unwilling to sacrifice.

WorkForLGBT, a Shanghai-based NGO, conducted a survey in late 2014. Among 8,000 gay correspondents across the country, only 2 percent of respondents working in state-owned enterprises have disclosed their sexual orientation, not even to the whole office, but only to close co-workers. On the other hand, 9 percent of respondents who work at foreign companies have revealed their orientation to their boss. Meanwhile, 27 respondents have let colleagues in on their secret.

Cheng's brush with heartache, when a former boyfriend married a woman, also opened his eyes to the reality that gay people who have secure government positions often end up getting married, with gay men opting to marry mostly lesbians.

Chu Ge, a civil servant in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, believes that gay government employees, due to the lack of upward mobility, line their views with that of their bosses, who often express more conservative attitudes.

Until China sheds its more conservative side and starts to welcome homosexuals for what they can contribute to society, government employees like Cheng will never be able to fully come to terms with their sexual orientation.