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As authors take to the Internet to discuss formerly taboo topics, their texts articulate private desires within a public space, highlighting central concerns regarding the relationship between social oppression and the expression of sexual identity in contemporary China. In this chapter, I use the 1999 Internet novella Huizi to examine a related set of issues of intimacy, self-expression, community formation, and sexual identity. Published under the pseudonym Xiaohe, Huizi depicts the relationship between two boys as they mature and become aware of their same-sex desires, and the result is a work that brings together “coming-of-age” and “coming-out” narrative conventions. In this way, Huizi offers a framework for reexamining modern China’s rapidly changing notions of social norms and sexual identity. More specifically, it examines the ways in which a newly liberalized political order draws on vestiges of an earlier, less tolerant, regime to generate a set of conditions that constrains but simultaneously encourages the emergence of new subject positions.

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