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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.

Like in a three-star Chinese hotel, there are golden handrails and door frames, a piano, and a goofy robot to welcome the passengers. Chinese parents often dictate every step of their children’s lives, from marrying young to having a secure career.

The Glory Sea has seven decks that are named after Greek gods and planets, such as Apollo, Venus, and Neptune. Like many of its Asian neighbors, Chinese society places a high value in filial piety, the virtues of showing respect and obedience to parents, elders, and ancestors.

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.

The doctor told his mother that homosexuality was no longer an illness—China had removed it from the list of official mental disorders four years earlier—but he could try fixing her son anyway..

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.

It wasn’t until she was boarding and saw a guy unrolling a rainbow flag that she realized her son had brought her onto a ship packed with “comrades,” as gay people in China often call themselves. In mid-June, China’s largest gay support group rented it to take LGBT people and their parents, 800 individuals in all, on a four-day journey to help them figure out how to understand and support one another.

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