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Many lament loss after Chinese magazine for gay, AIDS-affected communities closes

07-21-2010 09:31 BJT

BEIJING, July 20 (Xinhua) -- A retired colonel in China's armed police force and a gay, Zhang Guowei was delighted to find an extra-thick copy of "Friend Exchange" had arrived one morning after returning from his morning exercises.

He had been a subscriber to the magazine for the homosexual and AIDS-affected communities since 2001.

But on opening the package tears welled in Zhang's eyes. The words "Final Issue" were printed on the magazine cover.

"It was like my best friend suddenly bid me farewell." The only Chinese magazine providing mental support and AIDS prevention advice to the gay community, "Friend Exchange" has published its final issue after its main sponsor, the Ford Foundation, ended its financial support of the bimonthly.

When Joan Kaufman, reproductive health program officer of Ford Foundation China Office first came to China in the 1996, she found homosexuality was highly stigmatized and not acknowledged by the society, and there were no obvious support groups to engage in the effort.

Then in 1998 Kaufman heard about Zhang Beichuan and "Friend Exchange", a small magazine passed hand to hand, and decided to offer financial support. Ford Foundation has decided to switch its assistance to other countries in Southeast Asia and Africa because it regards China already too wealthy for such aids.

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