Is calling a homosexual person 同性恋 rude, offensive, or a slur? My dictionary translates it simply as "homosexual" but then in the usage examples gives "fairy," which is definitely a slur in English ("reclaiming" aside). Are the usage example translations wrong, or what?


  • 3
    Nothing inherently offensive about the word.
    – Mou某
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 7:47
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    I agree with user3306356, literally 同性恋 is a formal, academic term. But in Chinese culture, it would sound derogatory to some ears. So it would be better to use some euphemistic words in a conversation.
    – Stan
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 8:37
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    IMHO, you should beware that some people are sensitive, not to mention the society in general is still relatively conservative about it. they may be offended regardless of the word you use. Commented May 7, 2015 at 14:18
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    When you say that "the society in general is still relatively conservative about it. they may be offended regardless of the word you use," do you mean that they think homosexuality is bad and it's therefore insulting to call someone homosexual, regardless of the word, or that homosexuality is a taboo subject and they'll be offended that I mentioned it? Commented May 7, 2015 at 14:33
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    @MissMonicaE both, and you may not be fully aware that the reason many people think homosexuality is bad is not about sexuality itself. Unable to carry on family bloodline, deviated from social uniformity and lead a life different from parents' expectation are all bad things in traditional Chinese culture. Today the majority (at least 50%) of all Chinese people and a substantial amount of urban mass are still believing in that culture.
    – NS.X.
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 0:53

2 Answers 2


The expression of “同性恋” in Chinese, I think, is too formal and is hardly used in Chinese spoken language. In Chinese slang, some may use "同志"(which originally means comrade or like-minded or congenial people in China)to euphemistically refer to homosexual persons. In reality, influenced by English, we youngsters in China directly use gay or lesbian more frequently, rather than a Chinese word.


Basically, "同性恋" is the direct meaning of homosexual. However, it is quite difficult for Chinese people to say this directly.

There is an old saying in Chinese, called "不孝有三,无后为大". Here, it says that having no children is the worst thing for a person. If you have no children, then it's impossible for you to show filial obedience to your parents.

Since it is almost impossible for homosexual people to have their own children (I mean children with DNA relationships). Thus, a lot of Chinese people, especially old people, regard homosexual as a thing that cannot be said. So if you say that someone is "同性恋", then some people will regard this as slur. But to some other people (like me), this is not slur.

If you say someone is "玻璃"(the original meaning is just glass), then it means that this person is homosexual. I have to say that this is a slur.

Some people use "基佬" to refer to gays these years. But this word is common only in young people.

However, if you are talking to Chinese people, you have to consider whether they can accept homosexuals or not. If you think that they cannot accept homosexuals, it's better avoid these topics with them. It might cause unhappiness between you guys. But if you think they can accept homosexual, then it's okay to use "同性恋" directly, and I don't think that they will consider it as a slur.

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