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In his last few days in the hospital, he was forced to watch gay pornography while a doctor snapped at his wrist with a rubber band for 20 minutes at a time.

Lin eventually told the doctor what he wanted to hear: that he couldn’t feel anything when watching the movies.

His mother would think he was the perfect son if he were just able to “find a wife and bear a child,” Lin told me in his cabin. In 2005, soon after Lin first realized he was gay, he allowed his mother to take him to a psychiatric hospital in Hangzhou for conversion therapy.

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Several LGBT events were forced by authorities to cancel in recent months, as the ruling Communist Party tightened control over civil society in the run-up to a leadership reshuffle meeting that begins next week (Oct. Days before setting sail, PFLAG activists warned passengers against waving rainbow flags or any signs with pride slogans at Shanghai’s port for fear the tour could be shut down at the last minute.

Although there’s growing acceptance in cities, most Chinese LGBT citizens still live fractured, closeted lives: Only 15% have come out to their parents, and only 5% have disclosed their sexuality or gender identity in public, due to fears of discrimination and abuse from their families and society, according to a 2016 survey from the United Nations.

“I said whatever was needed to get out,” he told me.

Over a decade later, it’s still not uncommon for families to admit their relatives for conversion therapy including electro-shock and injections.

This is what PFLAG has been trying to change since it was founded about a decade ago.

Over the next four days, as it headed to Japan, the Glory Sea tour embarked on a journey of contradictions, as a hidden minority fleetingly experienced being mainstream, while their parents’ beliefs faced relentless questioning.

The paid wi-fi service usually didn’t work, leaving its passengers cut off from the outside world, floating in the middle of nowhere, and forced to interact with one another., decided to formally come out of the closet to his mother, one of 300 parents onboard. Your mother doesn’t necessarily know you, either.”After long pause, Zhou recounted his story. And when the most filial of virtues is to marry and have a child, being gay is seen as especially shaming.

The parents were from different parts of China, and all walks of life. ” she asked Zhou’s mother, but only got an awkward smile as a reply. He told them that he was called “ladyboy” by more than half of his high school classmates because they thought he was “too sissy.” He said he suffered depression before he accepted his sexuality. Zhou isn’t the only passenger who tricked his mother into joining the cruise.

But in July, a court ruling awarded a gay man compensation from a public hospital that forced him to undergo such treatment—the first victory of its kind in China. The family converted to Christianity six years ago, after Lin’s father, who now lives on dialysis, was diagnosed with kidney failure due to diabetes.

Since then, Lin’s mother has started to pray every day for his husband’s health, as well as for her son’s conversion.

When Zhou Chenguang invited his mother to take a trip with him, he didn’t tell her that the Glory Sea wasn’t just another cruise.