Lala (Chinese slang)

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Lala (Chinese: 拉拉; pinyin: lālā) is a non-derogatory Chinese slang term for lesbian, or a same-sex desiring woman.[1] It is used primarily by the LGBT+ community in Mainland China, though the term has origins in the Taiwanese term for lesbian, lazi (Chinese: 拉子; pinyin: lāzi).[2] Beginning in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, lala communities started to form in urban areas of China, such as Beijing and Shanghai, using bars and online chatrooms to connect.[3]

In 2005, a group of young self-identifying lalas in Beijing founded les+ Magazine, China's first and only queer women's magazine.[4] Despite legal restrictions in China over LGBT issues, les+ has found subscribers in all 23 Provinces of China as well as several countries abroad.[4] The slogan printed on the magazine's first issue read: "After the darkness fades away, I’ll be holding your hand, walking under the sunlight with pride, boldly and happily living our lives!"[5]

In 2012, Lucetta Kam Yip-lo, an assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), published the book Shanghai Lalas: Female Tongzhi Communities and Politics in Urban China. Kam's monograph features interviews with 25 Chinese lalas, female bisexuals, and trans women living in Shanghai, most of whom were women in their twenties from urban areas.


The term lazi first entered the Mainland Chinese lexicon through Taiwanese writer Qiu Miaojin's novel The Crocodile's Journal (1994), which features a central character named Lazi.[6] Chinese individuals identifying as lesbian have since favoured the term lala to describe their sexual orientation.[7]


  1. ^ "How to speak gay in Shanghai | CNN Travel". Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  2. ^ Connecting Taiwan : participation, integration, impacts. Storm, Carsten. New York. ISBN 9781351268950. OCLC 1037285684.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ "Beijing's 'Lala' scene -- A Chinese Lesbian speaks out". Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  4. ^ a b "jingzhao - Personal network". Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  5. ^ Kam Yip-lo, Lucetta (2013). Shanghai lalas : female Tongzhi communities and politics in urban China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 9789882208452. OCLC 828740506.
  6. ^ Understanding global sexualities : new frontiers. Aggleton, Peter. New York: Routledge. 2012. ISBN 9780415673471. OCLC 731925309.CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ Group, SEEC Media. "Chinese queer slang". Retrieved 2019-02-20.