Other Sheep in
CHINA 2010
  • CHINA 2010:  Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Hainan, Beijing
  • INDIA 2010:  Bangalore, Trivandrum, Alleppey, Cochin
Steve and Jose on Vacation - introducing themselves as "husband
and husband" to fellow tourists, locals and resort staff
by Steve Parelli
Howard Johnson Resort
Sanya Bay
Sanya, Hainan, China
August 2, 2010

A bit of a surprise when meeting the
“Americans” on travel – they’re gay!
by Steve Parelli
                                                            
Vacation week!

We’ve just completed ten nights at a five star resort in Sanya
Bay, Hainan, China.
 From  June 27 until our arrival here in
Sanya on July 23, Jose and I have been working Other Sheep
from early morning until late at night in Acapulco (MCC General
Conference), Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China.  Today, August
2, we resume our day-to-day Other Sheep field work, flying first
to Bangalore and then Kerala, India, and then on to Beijing,
China, where we will work until our return to the States on
September 4.

Although not officially at work during our resort vacation,
hours
were spent doing Other Sheep computer-related work
, and
our conversations with hotel guests, hotel staff, locals and
tourists we met outside the resort, naturally led to talk about
Other Sheep.

Much, if not most, of the conversations came to us by the
initiation of others – and I do mean literally came to us.  Take for
example
the young white male, blond-headed, blue-eyed
Russian
who spotted us from a distance on Yalong Beach.  He
made a direct path to us, keeping eye contact, as if we were
some long lost friends.  After a short English-challenged
conversation, he invited us to join him and his three Russian
friends – a guy and girl who appeared to be a couple and
another single male friend.  Before swimming together, and  as
we stood and made further introductions, Jose and I introduced
ourselves as husband and husband (better to do so early-on
rather than latter).  The boyfriend and girlfriend responded
immediately with “congratulations” and huge happy smiles.  The
two single male friends were not as responsive but were OK and
did not pull back in the least, especially the one who approached
us initially.  Before we parted, and after swimming together, they
invited us to join them later that evening at a dance club (we
politely decline, though thought it would have been fun).  We
gave them each our Other Sheep business card.

Then there was
the whole Guangzhou group at Dadonghai
Beach.
 The leader of the group approached us with a multi-lens
camera and asked if he could have his picture taken with us.  
Before we were done with picture taking, he had introduced us
to his whole group from Guangzhou and had taken a few group
pictures with us included.  We told him about Other Sheep, of
course, and gave him our business cards.

Then there were the locals in the area.  One was a college
student who rode bus number eight.  Like so many others just
like him, it appeared to me that just to have the chance to speak
some English with native-English speakers was an unusual, but
welcomed, opportunity.   We gave him our business card.

One young male local, on the beach in front of our resort, was
really quite good with his English.  Late one night we engaged
him in conversation.  He was quick to point out to us his family’s
restaurant down the street that ran along the beach.  His
invitation to dine was not the least bit hampered by the fact that
we had made it clear we were husband and husband.  Evidently,
his restaurant was open to do business with the “gay community”
(albeit we were most likely the first ever openly gay guests).   In
fact, when we did show up two evenings later, after making long
introductions to his sister at the entrance way, together the sister
and brother sat us at a table.  Standing before us as we sat, the
brother promptly told his sister we were husband and husband,
that we had married in California, that some countries do that (of
course, I don’t  know exactly what he said, it was all in Chinese; I
did get the husband-husband part as he did that in English; what
followed was his explanation to her in Chinese in answer to her
disbelief; at first she had smiled as if we were all joking; then
her
look turned to disbelief; then to surprise
as he explained it
all in Chinese). Then, convinced of the truth of the matter, I
watched as she left our table immediately to inform a middle-
aged gentleman who was obviously part of the establishment.   
He had seen us walk in and had made eye contact with us.  I had
smiled at him then and he had returned the smile (I always nod
and smile when people make eye contact with me).   No doubt,
the young lady was telling the gentleman that Jose and I were
husband and husband.  As she continued to give, I assume the
explanation her brother had given her, the gentleman turned and
looked our way.  I caught his glance as we made eye-contact for
the second time.  I don’t remember who waved first.  I think he
waved first at me and I returned the wave.  He had a huge smile
and I knew that our business was good here.  We were treated
well, like any other customer.

    (I am writing the following while in flight from Hainan,
    China, to Guangzhou, China, to Bangkok, Thailand;
    finishing up while waiting for the plane at the gate in
    Bangkok before departing for Mumbai, India; August 2)

Foreign guests, at the hotel resort, that we met were Russians –
several, from Moscow to Siberia; Koreans; a German husband
and wife; two young boys from Kazakhstan; and a young
Japanese man who was on a four day holiday with his girlfriend.

One young female Korean who was vacationing with her
husband wanted us to know that
Korea is a progressive country
and will, with time, become
more accepting of homosexuals
even in spite of the strong influence of conservative
Christian Koreans.
 The country is becoming more and more
secular.

The young Japanese man – in his twenties – sitting alone at the
pool, engaged us in a relatively long conversation.  Jose
impressed him with his limited, but full-sentence Japanese-
speaking ability; something he had worked on from time to time
all his years as a boy growing up in Brooklyn.  We told him we
were husband and husband and asked about gay tolerance in
Japan.  He talked some on the topic without having caught the
fact that we are gay.  I realized he had not understood that we
are gay and made attempts to further clarify by saying
“girlfriend/girlfriend” instead of “husband/husband.”  
When it
finally dawned on him that we were gay, he was shocked
as much by his lack of understanding as by the fact of our
sexual orientation.
“You are gay,” he said with a tone of voice
that made both a statement and a question, widening his eyes
with the apparent realization that he now understood.  Evidently,
we did not appear gay (or he had very little experience in this
area).  He had been talking with much animation and interest to
two straight men, like himself in every aspect, so he had thought.

Which brings me to the hotel staff.  In every respect, the staff was
professional, courteous, never in a rush and always
accommodating whatever the request.  It was truly a vacation
place where pampering and satisfying the guest was everyone’s
first concern.  When the staff asked of us, or when the
conversation naturally went there, Jose and I were free to say we
are husband and husband.  I don’t believe one hotel staff
member every flinched.  How well trained they were to never
show disapproval in anything a hotel guest may reveal.

One staff member – a young woman at the concierge desk –
discussed briefly with us our being gay.  In turn, I asked her if she
has any friends who are gay.
 No, no she insisted.  None of
her friends are gay.
 Gently, and with a smile, I said you mean
to say that you don’t know if any of your friends are gay.  Most
likely you have a friend who is gay (or at the very least an
associate), I told her.  She assured me she has no gay friends.  I
asked her that if she did have a gay friend, would the friend feel
safe to say so in China, or would he/she hide it from her?  She
took my comment graciously and with a smile.

On two different occasions I was asked if I would like a
massage.  On the first occasion, a gentleman who asked me,
worked in the night club located in the facilities of the resort.  It
was just before midnight and I was making my way to the lobby
bar to obtain ice for our room.  He was aggressive, but polite,
and almost certain, so it seemed to him, that I must be up and
about looking for something other than ice.  When I declined his
offer of a masseuse, he seemed to assure me that it would be a
complete massage.  
To that, I informed him that it would
have to be a man who was giving the massage; that I am
gay.  
Seeing I had to explain myself further, I told him I like men
and not women.  With that he gave a disapproving look as if I
was totally wasting his time, as though I had engaged him rather
than his having had approached me.  

Later in the week when Jose and I stepped into the night club,
the same gentleman was there.  He was obviously in charge of
the night club activities.  When he recognized me, he said he
could find me a masseur, told me the price (about $30 per hour),
gave me his business card with his mobile phone number and
said “no sex, no sex” twice.  I thanked him and told him I would
call him if I decided to get a massage.  And so we discovered
another place of business without any bias towards doing
business with gays.  Perhaps I broadened his horizon.

On a second and totally different occasion I was approached by
a female sex worker while dining with Jose in the open air at a
Thai restaurant on the boardwalk of Dadonghai Beach.  As she
passed by the first time, she looked directly at me and said she
could give me a massage if I would like.  My answer, given in
English, did not detour her.  She circled around a second time
and asked me again.  I believe it was on her third pass – or was
she simply lingering, attempting to milk the supposed opportunity
– that I invited her over to sit next to me.  She did.  At the same
time I invited the young male waiter who was serving us to stand
in as my object lesson.  I looked at the female sex worker and
pointing to Jose I told her that he was my husband.  She didn’t
understand.  I then pointed at the male waiter and said, “I like
men, like him.”  I repeated myself.  “This is my husband,” pointing
to Jose.  “I like him.”  Then pointing to the male waiter, I said
“This is a man, I like men.”  The waiter had to continue working
and so stepped away.  But as he did,
he turned back toward
me and with a big smile made a thumbs up sign to me
at
about the same time the sex worker began to realize that I was
not a likely customer.  Accordingly, she got up from sitting next to
me and proceeded to walk away still a bit dazed.  I didn’t see her
again.  But the waiter – that was different – we exchanged email
addresses and posed together with his fellow male waiter
friends for pictures.

Finally, perhaps the most significant impact we made in terms of
introducing same-sex love as a human reality was among those
who were attending a business conference at the resort.  We
were told that there were between 600-700 attendees from all
over China.  It didn’t seem like that many at all.  The resort
advertises itself as being the largest resort in all of China; it
certainly seemed like the conference crowd was hardly present
in comparison to the grand size of the resort.  But we did meet
and take to
a group of perhaps seven individuals who were
interconnected
as fellow-business people and were attending
the conference together.  We met them while swimming in the
pool their first evening of the conference.  They all seemed pretty
eager to try their English and to meet the Americans (as it turned
out).  On two subsequent occasions we met up with some of
them again at the pool.  One young man especially took to us as
we offered our services in teaching him how to swim. Another
two discussed late at night the mission and purpose of Other
Sheep.  It was interesting just to introduce the idea of religion
and faith-based organizations, which seemed to be a stretch for
them to visualize at first.  But beyond that, they did indeed
understand that Jose and I were a couple who were married and
lovers.  They found it all somewhat interesting.
" . . . ten nights at a
five star resort in
Sanya Bay, Hainan,
China . . . "
" . . . hours were
spent doing Other
Sheep
computer-related work
. . . "
" . . . the young white male, blond-headed, blue-eyed
Russian . . . "
" . . . the whole
Guangzhou group at
Dadonghai Beach . .
. "
" . . . her look turned
to disbelief; then to
surprise . . . "
" . . . Korea is a progressive country and will, with time,
become more accepting of homosexuals even in spite of the
strong influence of conservative Christian Koreans . . . "
"When it finally dawned on him that we were gay, he was
shocked as much by his lack of understanding as by the
fact of our sexual orientation."
"No, no she insisted.  None of her friends are gay."
"To that, I informed
him that it would have
to be a man who was
giving the massage;
that I am gay."
" . . . he turned back toward me and with a big
smile made a thumbs up sign to me . . . "
" . . . a group of
perhaps seven
individuals who were
interconnected . . . "
This web page was built on June 13, 2011 in the Bronx, New
York and published on the same date.
Visitors to this web page since June 13, 2011.
Counter
Hainan, China, coast line
Immediately after take-off
from Sanya International Airport
August 2, 2010
Sanya moon
Above:  Early morning
beach front of the Howard
Johnson Resort (
photo at
left
), Sanya, Hainan, China.
August 1, 2010
Photo at left:
Sunset over the
western wing of the
Howard Johnson
Resort, Sanya,
Hainan, China,
taken from our
room located in the
eastern wing of the
resort.
July 31, 2010
Photos above and below:
Howard Johnson Resort
Sanya, Hainan, China.  
Individuals we met who were
attending a conference.
July 31, 2010.  
Photo at left:
Waiters at a
restaurant where
we dined.  
Dadonghai Beach,
Sanya, Hainan,
China.
July 29, 2010.
Photo at right:
Entertainment at
Howard Johnson
Resort.  This young
lady serenaded us at
dinner.
July 28, 2010
Left:  The beach in front of
Howard Johnson Resort, Sanya,
Hainan, China.

Below:  Flowers on the resort
grounds.
At left:  Jose Ortiz
in the lobby area
of Howard
Johnson Resort
keeping current
with Other Sheep
work.
July 27, 2010
At right: One
of three pool
areas at
Howard
Johnson
Resort, Sanya,
Hainan, China
Above and left:
Sanya, Hainan, China.
July 25, 2010
At left: Jose
Ortiz, left, with
two locals on
Yalong Bay
Beach.  July
29, 2010