52-Year-Old Film Critic Shocks World With His 19-Year-Old Boyfriend

The internet is conflicted over the entertainment icon's new relationship

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4:34 PM HKT, Fri January 29, 2021 1 mins read

Cheng Qingsong wears many hats — film critic, screenwriter, magazine editor, producer, and founder of China’s film festival celebrating awful movies. He’s been open about his sexuality since 2005, but has drawn controversy over news of his most recent relationship.

Cheng dropped the news on Weibo when he posted the lyrics of a tender love song written by his boyfriend, a 19-year-old who’s thirty-three years Cheng’s junior.

The post shot up in Weibo’s trending charts, drawing mixed responses from the internet. Some congratulated Cheng for bravely declaring his love, while others expressed doubt over the large age gap between the two lovers.


“Why do people think this 19-year-old boy can’t decide for himself, as if he’s on the losing side of the relationship?” wrote one Weibo user in response to homophobic comments. “Even if he changes his mind one day, your disgusting replies won’t make a difference.”

“After scrolling through the comments, I began to wonder what the response would be different if Cheng were dating a woman. Would they call her a gold digger? Or say that she has ulterior motives in this relationship?” wrote another user, pulling the discussion closer to the mainstream conversations spreading in China around marriage and relationships. “But since he’s dating a man, there are no such comments; instead, people say Cheng has tricked a little boy.”

This wasn’t the first time Cheng became the center of online attention. Last year, Cheng faced a series of attacks on Weibo after The Golden Broom Awards — an annual film prize Cheng founded — awarded Xiao Zhan the title of “Most Disappointing Actor.”


Cheng’s Weibo comment section was flooded with angry replies from fans who accused him of defamation — incidentally, a newly-recovered Xiao Zhan just picked up a different award: Charm Actor of the Year at the 2020 Baidu Entertainment Awards.

While boys’ love dramas and donghuas such as Xiao Zhan’s The Untamed have skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, mainstream LGBTQ representation in China remains shallow and limited.

On-screen intimacy — often censored and reduced to vague “brotherly love” — rarely reflects real life same-sex relationships. Cheng’s moment in the spotlight is just the most recent tentpole in a long and ongoing conversation about sexuality and relationships in China.

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