Guligo Jia
I'm Carmen

In China, members of the LGBTQ community enjoy their freedom despite prudish comrades and routine discrimination. Wealth, recent political decisions and, above all, the Internet make this possible. Around 70 million homosexual, bisexual and trans people live in China, making it the world’s largest LGBTQ community. However, only a few admit to their sexual identities, for tradition and binary gender thinking characterise life in China, particularly in rural areas. From 2016 until 2019, Guligo Jia accompanied her friends who for many years were unwilling to accept any gender label. Her photos depict moments of joy and grief, in intimacy and in the protection of a stage setting. The images reveal secret dreams and illustrate obvious problems. More than that, these pictures show people presenting themselves as they see themselves – with dignity and full of longing.

  • Community
  • Discrimination
  • Everyday Life
  • Identity

»I was fascinated by their vigor of life.«

Guligo Jia
3 Questions
1. The door opener: Can you describe a formative moment in your career as a visual journalist?

When I was studying Journalism for my master’s degree in Beijing, a teacher from Britain lent me a camera, and I started to photograph my home town. Though exhausted, I found myself enjoying the process very much. And this photo essay won the first prize in a photography contest on campus. After that, I found my passion in life, which is to become a photographer.

2. The decisive moment: When did you first encounter your topic and why did you decide to cover it photographically?

I encountered my subjects in a gay bar in Shanghai in 2015, and they were having a drag queen contest. I was fascinated by their vigour of life during our encounter, but they also meet so many dilemmas. So I was touched by their stories and I decided to document them, trying to undermine people’s stereotypes against them through my photography. Besides photography, we’ve been friends for five years now, and we’ve been helping each other through these years.

3. The future: What could the visual journalism of the future be like?

As a matter of fact, photojournalism is on decline in China, most of the news agencies in China have cut down photography departments or transformed them into video departments. So there’s a trend in developing video journalism in China as the date goes unlimited. I think, maybe, the future of visual journalism will focus more on short videos, instead of in-depth visual reports, and forms suitable for social media like Tik Tok will be more popular because everyone is reading news on their cell phone and people are more distracted by various notifications on their phones.


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Guligo Jia talks about encountering gender related obstacles in her own photojournalistic career.

Found in Research

“Je suis Carmen”

Curated by Marie Kolb

© for all photos by the photographers
© for videos Lumix Festival Hanover, if not indicated otherwise.

*1989 in Chongqing, China
Guligo Jia is a photographer and documentary film-maker. She currently lives in Beijing. Her journalistic work concentrates on the topics of gender, femininity, relationships and family. After completing her studies of Journalism at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, she worked in the multimedia area of a Chinese news agency. She is now a freelance journalist.


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