For coming-out gays, it is not difficult to have a partner but it is a big problem for closeted gays, particularly who get married.
A closeted gay, 32, single, in Hanoi, who is a member of gay club, said: “I knew I’m a gay when I was very young. But at that time I could not find anyone to share because around ten years ago, homosexuality was very strange in Vietnam. Until the society knows more about it and clubs for gays are opened, we can easily find partners.”
This man also said that during that difficult period of time, he had to masturbate or had sex with women, but he could not satisfy because he did not have any feeling with women.
When “love markets” for gays appeared in some places in Tu Liem district, Hanoi, many gays consider these are the places to seek partners.
“Many gays who are not poor but still prostitute themselves because seeking a partner is very difficult, they have to go to ‘markets’,” he said.
Of 813 gays interviewed in the survey by the STDs/HIV/AIDS Prevention Center (SHAPC), up to 37 percent said they have prostituted themselves and one third of them have been clients at “love markets” for gays. They have sex with four partners a month, on average.
Some gays were robbed, beaten or even killed by their partners from the “love markets”.
“Many gays have to use materials to seduce and exchange to have sexual partners,” the 32-year-old gay in Hanoi said.
Some coming-out gays cannot find a sexual partner, because their like-woman outward even prevents them from seeking a female partner like closeted gays. However, if they see coming-out gays like them, they can live together easily.
Homosexuality is not accepted in Vietnam, at least in society, the Law on Marriage and Family only bans same-sex marriage. The hurdle for gays in seeking partners and satisfying themselves is high.
Most of gays said they have the right to have sex with same-sex partners but not with different-sex partners.
A gay who is a member of a gay clubs in Hanoi said: “I’m a gay but I can have sex with women. When my wife did not know about my secret, everything was still normal. But since she knew it, her attitude has changed completely. She said that having said with me is disgusting, unhealthy and unnatural”.
Some gays face family tragedy when their wives know about their secret. They are neglected by their wives and children because these people think that homosexuality can transmit to normal people.
Vietnamese awareness of homosexuality is limited, according to SHAPC’s survey. Up to 36 percent of interviewees say that they see homosexuality as social evil, 68 percent say homosexuality is a disease, 48 percent say it is unhealthy relations, 27 percent say it is corrupted and 56 percent say homosexual is unnatural.
“The biggest difficulty of gays is not being accepted. We have to sneakily seek partners. The most miserable tragedy is we cannot live with ourselves,” a gay said.
Sexual relations among gays has become a big worry because gays often have several sexual partners at the same time, even with partners of both sexes, which can spread sexual transmitted diseases fast. In addition, they do not use condoms often or use condoms in wrong ways.
Moreover, the rate of gays using drugs is on the rise. Gays do not perform periodical tests of HIV because social stigma prevents them from having access to consulting and testing services.
The numbers of HIV carriers who are gays increase in Hanoi, HCM City and big cities in Vietnam.
According to the Agency against HIV/AIDS, over 10 percent of gays in Hanoi and HCM City were infected with HIV in 2009. The rate was 5 percent in Can Tho, the biggest city in the Mekong Delta.
FHI Vietnam’s research shows that the rate of HIV carriers rose from 6 percent 2006 to 16 percent in 2009 for the group of male prostitutes and from 10 percent in 2006 to 14 percent in 2009 for the remaining group. The rate of gays with sexually transmitted diseases rose from 17 to 21 percent during this period, for both groups.