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Tu Er Shen
(Myth) China

Tu Er Shen

Deity of homosexuality

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The god Tu Er Shen (his name literally means "rabbit deity") wasn't very well known, nor commonly worshipped outside the city of Fuzhou, Fujian province, but he is based on an historical figure. According to the "Tale of the Rabbit God" that appears in the Zi Bu Yu, a collection of supernatural stories written by Qing Dynasty scholar and poet Yuan Mei (1716 - 1798), Hu Tian Bao (sometimes rendered "Wu Tien Bao") was an official in 18th-century, Qing Dynasty China.

Hu fell in love with a handsome young imperial inspector of Fujian Province, but because of the inspector's higher status, he was afraid to reveal his feelings. After Hu was caught peeping at the inspector through a bathroom wall, he confessed his admiration for the inspector, who had him beaten to death.

One month after his passing, the story goes, Hu appeared to a man from his hometown in a dream, claiming that , since his crime was one of love, underworld officials decided to right the injustice by delegating Hu Tian Bao as the god and safeguarder of homosexual affections., with the name of Rabbit God. In the dream, he asked the man to erect a shrine to him.

In Chinese folklore, Hu Tian Bao is a god to whom men prayed when they had fallen in love with a male youth and wanted to win his affections. If their prayers were answered they would come to the god's temple, known as "The Small Official Temple", and smear pig intestines mixed with sugar on the god's mouth.

The practice was documented by Zhu Gui (1731-1807), grain tax circuit intendant of Fujian in 1765, in his "Prohibition of Licentious Cults". In it he describes a statue in the temple, "The image is of two men embracing one another; the face of one is somewhat hoary with age, the other tender and pale." He goes on to describe the practice: "All those debauched and shameless rascals who, on seeing youths or young men, desire to have intercourse with them pray for assistance from the plaster idol. Then they make plans to entice and obtain the object of their desire. This is known as the secret assistance of Hu Tian Bao." The statue and a wooden tablet found with it were destroyed by Zhu Gui in an attempt to "improve the morals" of the locals.

There was also a temple in Southern China called "Double Flowers Temple," where a deceased gay couple was worshipped by the general public. The temple was destroyed by the Japanese army during the World War II and no longer exists.

In order to cater to the needs of modern homosexuals, the religion has been resuscitated in Taiwan. The present temple, in Yonghe City was founded by Lu Wei Ming, a Taoist priest, who is also homosexual.

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Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://www.glbtq.com/, et alii

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