Approaching Transnational Chinese Queer Stardom as Zhongxing ('Neutral Sex/Gender') Sensibility

Li, Cheuk Yin (2015) Approaching Transnational Chinese Queer Stardom as Zhongxing ('Neutral Sex/Gender') Sensibility. East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, 1 (1). pp. 75-95. ISSN 2051-7084

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A generation of female queer stars has emerged in post-millennial transnational Chinese popular culture. They have amassed many female followers. Among these stars are Mainland China’s Chris Lee, Hong Kong’s Denise Ho and Taiwan’s Jing Chang. These celebrities are often characterized as ‘zhongxing’, which literally means ‘neutral sex and/or gender’, because of their non-normative gender and ambiguous sexual representation. This article aims to develop a lens to approach this emergence of queer stars and its sociocultural implications. Considering the genealogy of zhongxing and its historical relevance and taking on the reflections of Anglo-American queer theory, this article justifies the use of zhongxing over the usual English term ‘androgyny’. Recent media scholarship on Chinese queer stardom has provided an insightful entry point to this phenomenon. In this article, zhongxing is conceptualized as a sensibility for its liminal status as a non-identity category and non-sexual practice. It is ambiguous but also gradually being stabilized and shaped as specific forms of embodiment, a quest for individuality and reflexive authenticity, and an emerging queer feeling. The potentiality of zhongxing sensibility, as suggested by preliminary interview data, invites further research in the affective texture of everyday life and the transforming contours of gender and sexuality in transnational Chinese societies.

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Journal Article
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East Asian Journal of Popular Culture
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16 Sep 2019 16:10
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 01:39