A queerly normalized Western lesbian imaginary : online Chinese fans’ gossip about the Danish fashion model Freja Beha Erichsen

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-58
Journal / PublicationFeminist Media Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


Online gossip is an important site of negotiation and contestation for today’s global popular culture in the post-audience age. This article presents a discourse analysis of Chinese fans’ queer gossip about the Danish female model, Freja Beha Erichsen, in one of the most sizable and influential cyber Chinese fandoms, The Garden of Eden Communication Site for Foreign Series (GE). Erichsen has been famous worldwide for her queer persona and homosocial/homoerotic relationships. The gossip discussed in the research was mainly produced in GE between September 2007 and December 2012. My examination highlights the ambivalent strategy—namely, queer normalization—employed by GE fans. I show that the fans queerly contested yet also renormalized the commercialized images of Erichsen. Furthermore, I illustrate how GE fans both debated and contradictorily reimagined Erichsen’s personal lesbian relationships based on Chinese-specific social-familial and marital ideals pertaining to women’s genders and sexualities. Ultimately, I argue that this tendency of GE fans to craft “desirable,” “normalized” queer fantasies about Erichsen can be seen as an interesting set of queer strategies that allow the fans to creatively reconfigure these local Chinese normative cultural conventions and traditions as viable models for queer women’s survival and expression.

Research Area(s)

  • Gossip, online Chinese fandom, queer normalization, queer women, Western lesbian imaginaries

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