Tu-Er-Shen

Posted on September 29, 2010

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Young men sipping tea and having sex, China, Qing DynastyTu-Er-Shen is the rabbit god in Chinese tradition who watches over gay men – the name literally means “rabbit deity.” According to Yuan Mei (1716-1797) in his book Zi Bu Yu, a certain Hu Biantao fell in love with an imperial inspector, who caught Hu spying on him through a bathroom wall. The inspector had Hu beaten to death, but a month later Hu appeared in a dream to a man from his hometown. In the dream, Hu told the man that the officials of the underworld had declared that to make up for the injustice done to him, he would become the protector of homosexuals. A popular shrine was then built to him in Yujian province. Since the rabbit was connected with homosexuality in late imperial China, with gay men called rabbits, Hu became the rabbit god.

The story of Tu-Er-Shen is connected to a tradition of homosexuality in Yujian province, where a kind of male marriage existed according to writer Li Yu, including a marriage ceremony similar to one between a man and woman. Such marriages could last for years, but eventually the men would be expected to enter traditional marriages in order to have children.

In the city of Yonghe in Taiwan, a modern Taoist temple to Tu-Er-Shen has been erected. An article about the temple appeared in the Taipei Times, here.

Tu-Er-Shen has a wikipedia page, here. There is also a facebook page, here.

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