Forum for gays just a click away
Updated: 2013-12-01 06:49
By Zhihua (China Daily)
Ma Baoli, founder and CEO of Danlan, a virtual community for gays in China. Photo Provided to China Daily
Ma started his blog because "I was extremely lonely, because I knew I would be seen as a freak if anyone knew my secret".
To his surprise, his blog received many hits and comments, and became one of the service provider's top blogs.
Many visitors said they shared the same feelings and encouraged him.
Some even e-mailed Ma their stories and photos, asking him to post them on the blog because they felt the blog was a safe haven for them to share their lives with people like them, reducing their solitude.
Ma came to realize there was little Chinese-language online information about gay life, let alone websites for gay Chinese.
"It occurred to me: Why not create a website where people like me can gather and get to know others?" Ma says.
"We are gay, but we are the same as other people in pursuit of steady relationships. Besides, I also want people to learn scientific knowledge about gay life to know gays aren't freaks or perverts but simply human beings with a different sexual orientation than the majority."
In 2006, his blog officially transformed into the Danlan - China's first gay website - and Ma got a team of four to help him.
The site became a sensation and almost crashed from the unexpectedly large number of visits.
But the obstacles a gay website faced then were enormous.
"Our website got closed one time after another because the authorities thought gay websites violated social ethics," Ma says.
The website had to move its server from Qinhuangdao to one city after another.