Ta-wei Chi, Assistant Professor, Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, National Chengchi University
Xu Yousheng, a writer who was wed in Taiwan’s first public gay marriage ceremony, once traveled to New York City. His short story “Stones on the Shore” focuses on gay life in that metropolis. Written in 1990, the story evinces a deep love for the Chinese people, possibly influenced by the impact of the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989 (though the incident is never mentioned directly in the work).
Cao Xuantian, the story’s protagonist, is a young Taiwanese man who travels to New York City to experience Gotham’s gay pleasures. Unexpectedly, Cao falls into a torrid love relationship with Meng Gang, a young dancer from China. As the two young men engage in flirtatious banter, the language they use casts them as metaphors for Taiwan and China, their romance a symbol of the relationship between the people of the two lands. “Stones on the Shore,” the story’s title indicates that Cao and Meng (or Taiwan and China) are neither close nor far apart: they are like two stones on the opposites sides of the Taiwan Strait – if viewed from the sea’s surface they seem to be separated, yet they are connected by the ocean’s floor. This Taiwanese yearning for China was a product of the 1990s, a longing rarely felt today.
Love between a Taiwanese youth and Chinese youth may seem strange to some observers, not for reasons of sexual preference but because of race – in America’s gay circles in the 1990s, Asians generally avoided dating other Asians, preferring to vie for the favors of rich Caucasians. One of the main reasons Cao and Meng come together is their ambiguous feelings about China: to escape China’s poverty Meng Gang has decided to remain in America, yet he misses his motherland; Cao Xuantian, a second-generation waishengren, doesn’t want to accompany his father to visit relatives in China, but he is curious about the country nonetheless. In the story’s penultimate scene, Meng Gang dances an interpretation of the Chinese myth of Nuo Zha (a young male figure who symbolizes rebellion against parental authority), allowing Cao Xuantian to experience both the beauty of the male physique and the magnificence of China.
In Xu’s story, the US is described as a paradise where gay men can live their lives to the fullest: New York City’s gay bars, gay beaches and similar venues are nowhere to be found in Asia. (Times have changed, however, and gay playgrounds are now springing up all over Asia; meanwhile, New York City’s gay scene has been in decline.) “Stones on the Shore” presents America and Asia as two different worlds; thus gays leave Asia (where there seem to be no opportunities to express their sexuality) and flock to America (where there seem to be endless such opportunities).
Mi, another Taiwanese gay man, is a minor character in the story. To escape family supervision and parental pressures Mi leaves Taiwan for New York City, where he tests positive for the HIV virus; hence, his only recourse to return to his mother’s care in Taiwan. “Stones on the Shore” is one of the earliest works of Taiwanese literature to depict an HIV carrier.
Tsai Meng-Che, PhD student, Department of Chinese Literature, National Tsing Hua University
Xu Yousheng (Hsu Yosheng,1961- ) is a resident of Taipei. He has served as editor of Literature Star magazine, chief editor at the Independence Evening News, literary supplement editor at Central Daily News, contributing editor at G&L magazine, and host of the “Body Image and Sexual Growth” workshop. He is a graduate of National Taiwan University’s Department of Chinese Literature, and holds a master’s degree in communications from the New York Institute of Technology and a PhD from The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. A prolific writer, Xu’s works touch on a wide range of subjects: LGBT issues, sexuality, sexology, marginalized desires, depression, and other topics. His most highly regarded works are Reward for Romance (1992), When a Prince Meets a Prince (1995), Will You Marry Me? (1996), andTwenty Years of Devoted Love:The Story of My Love for Gary (2014). Xu authored the erotic gay novel Welcome to the Peach Garden (1997) under the penname Arthur Pan; writing as Madame Cha, he published Indecent Reading Room (1997). He wrote Red Lips (2004), a novel of lesbian love, under the penname Sandra. His translations include The Good Girl’s Guide to Bad Girl Sex and The Joy of Gay Sex.
Xu Yousheng’s works are diverse, encompassing a wide range of genres. The novels written in his own name are emotionally rich, and his literary essays are sincere expressions of self. Xu’s erotic fiction is sensually stimulating, his works on sexology and his translations highly educational.“Stones on the Shore,” included in his first collection of short stories, Reward for Romance (1992), depicts the romantic entanglements of a Taiwanese gay man on a trip to New York City, deftly analogizing Taiwan’s triangular relationship with the US and China. In the preface to his 1996 novel Men and Women Marry Xu “came out of the closet,” and on November 10 of that year he married his lover Gary in Taiwan’s first gay marriage ceremony, a historically significant moment for gay rights in Taiwan.
Xu Yousheng played a prominent role in the rise of Taiwan’s gay-rights movement in the 1990s, drawing much public attention to the cause. His works are still intimately linked to his life, meticulously delineating his feelings and “coming out” about his homosexuality, depression, and AIDS, thus offering great encouragement to stigmatized demographics.
|Work(English)：||Stones on the Shore|
|Anthology：||Angelwings: Contemporary Queer Fiction from Taiwan (《天使翅膀：來自台灣的當代酷兒小說》)|
|Literary Genre：||Short Story|
|Publisher：||Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press|
|Ordering information for original work(Link)：||http://www.ylib.com|
Ordering information for original work(Note)：
|Yuan-Liou Publishing Co.,Ltd.|
|Ordering information for translation(Link)：||http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/p-2702-9780824826529.aspx|
|Ordering information for translation(Note)：||Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press|