Figurine of the Rabbit God.

Tu'er Shen (兔儿神 or simply, Tu Shen, 兔神; The Leveret Spirit) is a Chinese Shenist or religious Daoist deity who manages the love and sex between male homosexuals. The patron god of gay men, his name is more often colloquially translated as the Rabbit God or Rabbit Deity. His adherents refer to him as Da Ye (大爷, The Master)[1].

Note:

  • Tu'er Shen is not to be confused with Tu'er Ye (兔儿爷), a deity of Chinese folk religion unique to Beijing where his sculptures are traditionally crafted. Tu'er Ye is also translated into English as Rabbit God, in addition being called the moon rabbit, a pet of the Moon Goddess Chang'e and connected with moon worship. Tu'er Shen, which this wiki article deals with, is a separate deity of Southern Chinese and more recent origin.
  • In many articles, "兔儿神" is incorrectly romanised in Hanyu Pinyin as "Tu Er Shen". This does not abide by the rules of pinyin orthography which require a syllable beginning with "a", "e", or "o" appearing in the middle of a polysyllabic word to be preceded by an apostrophe[2],[3] and also that the syllables be combined without any intervening spaces[4].

The religious figure of Tu'er Shen apparently originates from a folk tale in 18th-century Fujian province. In the story, a soldier falls in love with a Qing dynasty provincial official and spies on him to see him naked[5]. The official has the soldier beaten to death but the latter returns from the dead in the form of a young hare, or leveret (a rabbit in its first year), in the dream of a village elder. The leveret demands that local men build a temple to him, where they can burn incense in the interest of "affairs of men". The story ends thus:

"According to the customs of Fujian province, it is acceptable for a man and boy to form a bond (qi, 契) and to speak to each other as if to brothers. Hearing the villager relate the dream, the other villagers strove to contribute money to erect the temple. They kept silent about this secret vow, which they quickly and eagerly fulfilled. Others begged to know their reason for building the temple, but they did not find out. They all went there to pray."

Legend[edit | edit source]

Qing dynasty scholar and poet, Yuan Mei.

The mythology of the Rabbit God was described in Zi Bu Yu (子不語), a collection of strange and supernatural stories written by Qing dynasty scholar and poet Yuan Mei (袁枚, 1716-1798, also known as Yuan Muzhi). The work has been an inspiration for Chinese manhua, Japanese manga and Korean manhwa artists alike. “Zi Bu Yu”, which is translated as "The Indescribable", literally means “things of which Confucius did not speak.” It was inspired by the statement that “Confucius spoke of no supernaturalism, feats of powers, disorders and spirits” in the Analects of Confucius. Yuan implied that the anecdote of the Rabbit God should not be taken seriously because Confucius would disapprove of such a tale[6].

According to Yuan, in "The Tale of the Leveret Spirit", Tu'er Shen was originally a man named Hu Tianbao (胡天保) who fell in love with a newly appointed, young and very handsome imperial anti-corruption official in 18th-century Fujian province during the early Qing dynasty[7]. However, because of the inspector's higher status, Hu was afraid to reveal his feelings. He would, nevertheless, attend public hearings just to see the inspector and follow him on all his rounds. One day, Hu hid in a bathroom to catch a glimpse of the object of his affection and was caught by the official peeping at his bare derrière through a gap in a bathroom wall when he went to the toilet. At this point, Hu confessed his reluctant obsession for the other man. The imperial inspector was outraged and had him sentenced to death by beating for offending a nobleman. One month after Hu's death, he is said to have appeared to an elder from his hometown in a dream, claiming that since his "crime" was one of love, King Yama, ruler of the Chinese Hades, had decided to redress the injustice by appointing him the Rabbit God whose duty it was to govern the affairs of men who desire men. In the dream, he asked the man to erect a shrine to him. When the elder awoke, he obliged by exhorting his fellow village folk to raise money to erect a temple to Hu Tianbao and named it the Rabbit God Temple. In return, the Rabbit God responded to his adherents’ prayers without disappointment. Yuan mentioned that people who had underground love affairs, secret agreements and unobtainable desires could visit the Rabbit God Temple.

Contemporary artists' depictions of Hu Tianbao who was deified as the Rabbit God.

Yuan finished the story of the Rabbit God with a comment on the popular “bond brotherhood” tradition in Fujian, whereby a man in love with another unrelated man would make a pact and vow to be qixiongdi (契兄弟). Qi means “contract or agreement” and xiongdi means “brothers.” The tradition of qixiongdi has evolved a branch that marks the discrete ceremonial union between homosexual men. Yuan Mei’s sympathy for the protagonist, Hu Tianbao provides evidence that during the 18th century, Chinese attitudes toward homosexuality were tolerant to some extent in Southern China, especially in the area of today’s Fujian province. Rabbit God Temples became very popular in Fujian province, so much so that in late Qing times, the cult of Hu Tianbao was targeted for extermination by the Qing government.

Research suggests that Hu was an upper-class historical figure who lived in Fujian from the late Ming dynasty to the early Qing dynasty. However, according to Michael Szonyi, associate professor of Chinese history at the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University, the Rabbit God is a pure invention of the poet Yuan, since the image of the Rabbit God does not appear in any other sources from Fujian. While some aspects of the story may be fabrications, the existence of the cult of Hu Tianbao in late 18th-century Fujian is well documented in official Qing records.

The deity has been referred to as the homosexual alternative to Yue Lao (The Old Man Under the Moon, 月下老人), the matchmaker god for heterosexual relations.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Rabbits are considered gender-ambiguous in Chinese culture and the author of "The Ballad of Mulan" used rabbits as an analogy to emphasise the androgynous appearance of Mulan.

A derogatory slang word for a homosexual man in late imperial China was tuzi (兔子, rabbit) and rabbits became symbols of homoeroticism. The reason why these animals were associated with homosexual men could be that rabbits in Chinese culture are considered gender-ambiguous. The Mulan Ci (木蘭辭; Ballad of Mulan), a famous 5th/6th century folk song, describes how Hua Mulan disguised herself as a man to enlist in the army in the place of her aged father. Mulan successfully convinced her colleagues that she was a man, and no one suspected her real biological sex. The author of Mulan Ci used the indistinguishable genital characteristics between male and female rabbits as an analogy to emphasise the androgynous appearance of Mulan. The ballad ends with the following verse:

"The he‐hare’s feet go hop and skip,

The she‐hare’s eyes are muddled and fuddled.

Two hares running side by side close to the ground,

How can they tell if I am he or she?"

Anxiety driven by concern about gender ambiguity may be responsible for referring to effeminate men and male prostitutes as rabbits in Chinese folk speech[8]. Perhaps that is also why Hu Tianbao was called the Rabbit Deity/'God even though he had nothing to do with rabbits and should not be confused with Tu'er Ye (兔兒爺, the white "Rabbit on the Moon" or Jade Rabbit, the pet of Moon Goddess, Chang'e (嫦娥), sometimes also referred to as the Rabbit God[9],[10],[11]. The Jade Rabbit, revered as the patron god of Beijing, is likewise associated with homosexuality. According to legend, he was the lunar medicine maker who appeared to the people of a region ravaged by war. He gave them herbal pastries that healed the wounded and the sick. He also came to the aid of a young soldier who, having failed to save his male lover from capture by the invaders, prayed to the moon. The Jade Rabbit responded to his plea by turning an orchid patch into gold. The young man then sold this gold and was able to pay his lover’s ransom[12].

Government suppression[edit | edit source]

In temples, images of Hu Tianbao show him in an embrace with another man. In the folk tale, the sense that the villagers must keep the reason for erecting the temple secret may relate to pressure from the central Chinese government to abandon the practice of worshipping the Rabbit God.

In Michael Szonyi's[13] paper, "The Cult of Hu Tianbao and the 18th-Century Discourse of Homosexuality", which was published in the journal "Late Imperial China" in 1998, he discusses the evidence used by the Qing government in its campaign against religious sects. An official, Zhu Gui (朱珪, 1731-1807), a grain tax circuit intendent of Fujian who, in 1765, strove to standardise the morality of the people with a "Prohibition of Licentious Cults". One of two cults in the provincial capital of Fuzhou which particularly aroused his ire was that of Hu Tianbao. He described the iconology of the cult thus:

"The image is of two men embracing one another; the face of one is somewhat hoary with age, the other tender and pale. [Their temple] is commonly called the small official temple. All those debauched and shameless rascals who on seeing youths or young men desire to have illicit intercourse with them pray for assistance from the plaster idol. Then they make plans to entice and obtain the objects of their desire. This is known as the secret assistance of Hu Tianbao. Afterwards they smear the idol's mouth with pork intestine and sugar in thanks."

Zhu removed the idol, had it smashed to bits and thrown into a river. After this the cult of Hu Tianbao went underground, was forgotten or even ignored. Perhaps it was because of this that a new legend arose saying that the villagers who built Hu’s shrine were sworn to secrecy. They could not tell anyone about Hu or the rationale for the shrine being there, except to those they knew wanted Hu’s specific help[14]. Later official records suggest that the sect was active in the 19th century, but as Szonyi points out, the chief evidence comes from edicts of imperial officials who tried to suppress the practice. Therefore, it is impossible to ascertain how the god was perceived from its adherents' point of view.

Modern interpretations[edit | edit source]

Although Tu'er Shen is popularly revered by some temples, a number of Daoist schools throughout history have considered homosexuality as sexual misconduct.

The story may be an attempt to mythologise a system of male same-sex marriages in Fujian which developed during the Ming dynasty. These were attested to by the scholar-bureaucrat Shen Defu and the writer Li Yu (1611-1680). The older man in the union would play the masculine role as a qixiong (契兄) or "adoptive elder brother", paying a "bride price" to the family of the younger man (apparently, virgins fetched higher prices) who became the qidi (契弟), or "adoptive younger brother". Li Yu described the ceremony, "They do not skip the three cups of tea or the six wedding rituals - it is just like a proper marriage with a formal wedding." The qidi then moved into the household of the qixiong, where he would be completely dependent on him, be treated as a son-in-law by the qixiong's parents, and possibly even help raise children adopted by the qixiong. These marriages could last as long as 20 years before both men were expected to marry women in order to procreate.

Keith Stevens reports seeing images like these in temples in Fujian (Hokkien)-speaking communities in Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore. Stevens refers to these images as 'brothers' or 'princes' and calls them Taibao (太保), which is probably a perversion of Tianbao. Stevens was usually told that the two figures in an embrace were brothers, and only in one temple in Fujian was he told that they were homosexuals. A photo of an image from a temple in Kaohsiung is provided by Stevens on page 434 of his article, "The wrestling princes", Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society - Volume 42, 2002.

Sadly, the history of Hu Tianbao has been largely forgotten even by the temple keepers. There was, however, a temple in Southern China called the “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[15].

Rabbit Temple in Taiwan[edit | edit source]

Daoist priest Lu Weiming, founder of the Rabbit Temple.

In 2005, an openly gay Taiwanese Daoist priest or fashi (法師) named Lu Weiming (盧威明) claimed to have made spiritual contact with the Rabbit God. Lu often heard complaints from homosexual Daoist adherents that there was no god to answer their prayers. Believing one of his missions was to tend to the needs of people alienated from mainstream society, he set out to revive the forgotten deity and resolved that should five same sex couples approach his temple for prayers or spiritual help, he would establish a new temple specifically dedicated to the Rabbit God.

Even though the temple at that time did not have any specific programmes for gay couples, five couples did indeed turn up. The priest took this as a sign and officially established the Rabbit Temple (officially known as 威明堂兔兒神殿, Weiming Hall Rabbit Shrine) on 5 February 2007[16]. Currently, about 9,000 gay pilgrims visit the temple each year praying to find a suitable partner. The temple also performs a love ceremony for gay couples at the world's only religious shrine for homosexuals. As of 2021, the temple remains the only extant shrine to the deity.

Location[edit | edit source]

The Rabbit God Temple was initially situated at No. 12, Alley 37, Yonghe Road Section 1, Yonghe City, Taipei (12号,37巷,永和路一段,永和市,台北) [17]. CW Chan of Chinatownology[18] shot the following photographs to facilitate locating it:

The entrance to the alley, no. 37, which leads to the Rabbit Temple is located opposite this building. The temple is found at the end of this alley, to the right. The unit number sign of the building in which the Rabbit Temple is located.

From left to right: 1) The entrance to the alley, no. 37, which leads to the Rabbit God Temple is located opposite this building. 2) The temple is found at the end of this alley, to the right. 3) The unit number sign of the building in which the Rabbit Temple is located.

However, the lease of the original temple was due to expire in 2015. The owner of the building in which it was housed intended to use it for other purposes. The temple's disciples scoured around for several months for another place to rent but could not find a suitable location. Seeing that the deadline was approaching, the disciples anxiously asked Master Lu Weiming for instructions. The Master only replied indifferently: "Wait another month, and Master will naturally have arrangements."

The adherents continued their search and found an appropriate building next to Yong'an Market in mid-January 2016. Just as the lease of the new site was about to be finalised, its owner suddenly had a change of heart and the deal fell through. Just as everyone became depressed at the turn of events, the housing agent who was accompanying Master Lu unexpectedly suggested another space after understanding the needs of the Rabbit Temple. The new place was not publicly listed on any rental website. It was privately sourced by the housing agent. Its hall was wide and high enough. In the early mornings, sunshine would coruscate along the river, and a row of lights was reflected on the floor as if to welcome the gods to enter.

Master Lu nodded and assented to the lease. After signing the contract, the housing agent learned that the previous tenant had already moved out. For nearly a year, it seemed like the space had been waiting for its new residents, having already decided to welcome the Master's arrival.

In March 2016, Master Lu Weiming finally established a new Rabbit God Temple at its current site along Jing'an Road, Zhonghe District, New Taipei City, where he continued his career of promoting the Daoist dharma and way of life.

News report[edit | edit source]

Shortly after the temple's founding, Taiwan's Chung T'ien Television (CTi TV, 中天電視) broadcast a brief report on it during their daily news bulletin([19]):


Rationale for founding[edit | edit source]

In 2011, Lu uploaded a video to YouTube in which he explained in detail his reasons for setting up the Rabbit God Temple[20]. In short, it was to provide the religious solace sought by the gay community and, via the blessing of the Rabbit God, to give everyone compassion and love.


In a separate upload, he also explained the Daoist view of homosexuality (see video:[21]).

Lu feels that the deity can be seen as an alternative to Yue Xia Lao Ren (月下老人), the matchmaker god for heterosexuals[22]. He usually advises gay templegoers not to go to Yue Lao, (the nickname of the matchmaker god), since love affairs between men and women are believed to be his responsibility. The deity would be confused by homosexuals' prayers and probably say to himself: "The prayer doesn't seem right. I'll match you with a woman instead."

The Rabbit God is perceived to be an affable deity who is willing to assist his followers in every aspect of life. Since he works for Cheng Huang (城隍), the City God, he has both the erudition and social network in the spiritual world to solve any problem mortals have.

Homosexuals may have an edge in the spiritual world because Hu Tianbao is rather self-abased both because of the way he died and the somewhat belittling title of "rabbit". So if one is willing to believe in him, he will be much more grateful and work harder than other deities.

Television interview[edit | edit source]

In 2011, Taiwan's China News Magazine (華視新聞雜誌) interviewed Lu in a programme entitled, "Seeking peach blossoms in the Year of the Rabbit" (兔年求桃花)[23]:


Rituals[edit | edit source]

The altar of the Rabbit Temple.

There are several methods of worshipping, asking for and receiving answers from this divine being, but sincerity is what counts most. For this reason, followers should address the god as "Da Ye" (大爺), or "Master", rather than "Rabbit God". Then, those with needs can write down their names, addresses, birthdays and prayers on pieces of paper money and burn them to make sure the messages are sent to heaven.

A devotee seeking a talisman or charm is first obliged to fulfill a requirement - he has to recite his name, address, and date and time of birth to the Rabbit God. Using wooden divination moon blocks (jiaobei; 筊杯 or 珓杯), he must then throw 3 consecutive shèngjiǎo (聖筊, divine answer), namely one block with the flat side and the other with the round side facing upwards signifying a "yes" answer, out of 9 tries before he will be bestowed the blessed charm. It sounds easy but is actually not.

In another form of worship, personal items can be brought before the alter for Da Ye's blessings. It is a Daoist belief that wearing the items will reinforce the power of blessings. Some followers believe that blessed skin-care products are more effective and increase the likelihood of romance. Followers can also take fu (符, paper charms) from the temple, place them under a pillow and pray to the deity to fulfill their wishes before going to bed. The praying is meant to encourage contemplation.

Apart from the spiritual side of the sect, Lu is also concerned about the status of homosexuals in society, and that is a major reason for establishing the temple. "Religions both in the West and the East have long pushed the homosexual community into the margin," he said. "But providence is benign, and love is given to all human beings as equals." He also added that the temple is not merely for gay men, but lesbians as well.

Lu is planning religious gay weddings. He wants to deliver a message that religion recognises the union of homosexual couples and there is no reason why the state should not do the same.

RabbitTemple001.jpg RabbitTemple002.jpg RabbitTemple003.jpg RabbitTemple004.jpg RabbitTemple005.jpg

To a 25-year-old internist and adherent who requested to be identified as Philippe since his colleagues did not know he was gay, the temple offered a source of comfort in time of trouble. Admitting that he imagined the shrine would be a bit gruesome before the visit, Philippe noted that the whole experience was similar to that of visiting any other temple.

Although he had a secular upbringing, he still felt the need to seek out comfort in religious faith, to know there is hope he could hold on to, a true love that is not far off. He said he would return to the shrine and give thanks to Da Ye if the dinner date after the gay pride parade the previous Saturday developed into a long-yearned-for relationship.

Analysis[edit | edit source]

"Religions both in the West and the East have long pushed the homosexual community into the margin. But providence is benign, and love is given to all human beings as equals."

Lu Weiming (盧威明), Daoist priest.

New deities and even new religions often emerge to address needs or during times of social change. The founding of the Rabbit God Temple in Taipei is one such example. Since its opening, the temple has attracted not only same sex-couples from Taiwan and other parts of the world but also singles in search of their future partner. On the side wall of the temple is a notice board for visitors to leave a message for the Rabbit God. It may be a request for help in their search for love or a thank-you note.

The emergence of the Rabbit God Temple may be contextualised vis-a-vis 2 related trends in Taiwan:

  • Regarding social attitudes towards homosexual issues, Taiwan is one of the most progressive societies in Asia and in the Chinese world. In fact, the 2003 Taiwan Pride event was the first gay pride parade in any Chinese-majority society. In Taiwan Pride 2005, then Taipei's Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou, 馬英九, participated in the opening ceremony and even declared that "being gay is a natural state that cannot be repressed". The majority of Taiwanese residents are of Chinese descent. Their ancestors migrated from Fujian, China to Taiwan during the late Ming dynasty and they may have brought a more tolerant view of homosexuality with them. In addition, homosexuals were not treated as criminals during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945).
  • Secondly, Taiwan has the culture of Yue Lao worship. Yue Lao, 月老, or "Old man under the moon" is a Chinese deity who oversees heterosexual love affairs. In many Taiwanese temples, there is a chamber dedicated to his worship. Straight couples or singles in search of love leave messages there. The Rabbit God is thus the counterpart of Yue Lao and is in charge of homosexual relationships.

Gay studies had been neglected until Taiwanese society became more democratic during the late 1980s. The resurrection of Rabbit God worship not only signifies freedom of religion but also shows the public’s increasing tolerance of same-sex love. Looking at world religion in totality, a deity in charge of gay relationships is refreshing news. In many countries, religious condemnation and criminal persecution of homosexuals is par for the course. In a landscape of bigotry and ignorance, the Rabbit God arises as one who not only does not denigrate gay individuals but assists them in their search for love. That explains the international interest in the Rabbit God Temple.

Rabbit God in popular culture[edit | edit source]

The Rabbit God's Matchmaking (TV serial)[edit | edit source]

Tu'er Shen was the main character of a hit 2010 Taiwanese television drama serial entitled, "The Rabbit God's Matchmaking" or "The Matchmaker Rabbit God" (兔儿神弄姻缘)[24].

RabbitGod010.png


Tu Er Shen Origins (comic strip)[edit | edit source]

In 2018, a freelance artist based in Boston, Massachusetts named Cam Lee who enjoys drawing comics and fan art uploaded a page of comics depicting the origin of the Rabbit God to commemorate National Coming Out Day[25].

RabbitGodCamLee001.png


Kiss of the Rabbit God (short film)[edit | edit source]

Main article: Kiss of the Rabbit God (short film)

[26]


In 2018, Chinese-American filmmaker Andrew Huang was asked by London-based culture platform NOWNESS to create a film on the theme "define sex." As a queer Asian, Huang had yet to be tasked with the challenge of representing his sexual identity on screen. This challenge was a loaded one. Having grown up with a deficit of queer Asian visibility onscreen along with the frequent stigmatisation and devaluing of Asian male bodies in Western visual culture, being asked to create a piece centered around queer Asian characters became a dauntingly personal journey for him to unpack these issues, while also crafting a story that he felt enriched their collective imagination of what queer Asian male love, sex and intimacy could aspire to be.

On a trip to Mexico City, Huang encountered an exhibition on Xōchipilli, the Aztec god of flowers and patron of gay love. The story of Xōchipilli inspired him to redirect his lens towards his own Chinese heritage, through which he found the Qing dynasty story of the Rabbit God. This research led him to craft a narrative in 2019 about a Chinese restaurant worker who encounters Tu'er Shen as a ghostly visitor. Nightly visits from the god blossom into a tryst that empowers the boy to release his sense of trapped invisibility and embark on a journey of sexual awakening and discovery. Interweaving his personal family history in the Chinese restaurant business with the richness of Chinese mythology, Kiss of the Rabbit God is a confession and a love letter to his queer Asian community and tells the story of a lover's quest for self-possession to own one's desire and unlock sexual intimacy through spiritual embodiment.

American Gods, season 3, episode 8[edit | edit source]

The Rabbit God was the god-of-the-week featured in "The Rapture of Burning", the title of episode 8 of season 3 of the television series American Gods[27],[28],[29]. Broadcast in early March 2021, critics hailed it as the best instalment in the series thus far. The opening scene is set in 1951 where the audience is introduced to a pleasant, rustic little motel called the Grand Peacock Inn. Its beautiful transwoman proprietor, Toni (played by Dana Aliya Levinson), reads a magazine behind the reception counter. Apparently, business is so poor that the lobby is devoid of guests. Suddenly, a young man named Tianbo (Daniel Jun), sweating profusely with a bruised left eye and bleeding from the nose, hurtles through the front doors, chased by three unpleasant, homophobic cops in a siren-blaring and beacon-flashing police car. The injured Tianbo pleads for help, saying that he did nothing wrong and that his pursuers are going to kill him. Luckily, by the time the slow-footed bigots actually arrive, he has safely sequestered and locked himself in one of the motel rooms using the key that Toni has the presence of mind to shove hastily into his hand. The policemen barge in and inquire about Tianbo's whereabouts, explaining that they want to arrest a fugitive sexual "pervert" for consorting with other men with the intent of committing sodomy. Toni sardonically replies that people bandy that word about a lot without understanding what they mean by it. The lead police inspector then points out one of his teammates Jimmy, a good-looking decoy used to entrap Tianbo during their anti-gay sting operation at the gay bar Smugglers' Cove. Toni expresses her distaste for the deception employed and upon gazing more closely at Jimmy's face, immediately recognises him as the ex-schoolmate from her pre-transition life with whom she indulged in passionate, clandestine same sex kissing in a dimly lit stairwell during their senior year homecoming party. She stares Jimmy in the eye and issues a veiled threat to expose their affair if the cops do not accept her declaration that she is not harbouring any criminal. Afraid that his homosexual past will be made known to his colleagues, Jimmy convinces the police inspector that Toni is telling the truth and to promptly leave the place.

Later, in the motel room while having a meal served to him on a tray, Tianbo asks Toni why she is being so kind to him since, for all she knows, he may actually be a criminal the cops are after. Toni replies that when the police terrorise "people like us", then they become the bad guys. Tianbo is surprised she uses that particular phrase which implies the two have something in common. Toni empathises with the fact that Tianbo is attracted to men and it is hard to know whom to trust. She reveals that when she was born, everyone said she was a boy...but they were wrong. Tianbo smiles, saying that he was lucky to find her. Toni agrees because she almost shut her motel down a week ago as there were no guests and insufficient funds. Fortunately, she decided to keep it running for a couple of weeks more and is glad she did. Tianbo, reciprocating Toni's frankness, reveals that he is actually Tu’er Shen, the Chinese Rabbit God, the protector of homosexual love. He came to America a hundred years ago and has been looking for a new temple ever since. Incredulous, Toni suggests that he seek psychiatric help. Undeterred by her disbelief and as a token of gratitude for saving him and for her hospitality, Tianbo blesses Toni with a long, happy and loving life. He further bestows safety, prosperity and joy upon her Grand Peacock Inn, christening the place a temple for people like the both of them and all kindred spirits. When Tianbo is fit enough to travel, he leaves the motel. While she is seeing him off outdoors for the last time on a snowy winter's day and after expressing continuing concern about his physical and mental health, Tianbo spews out a swarm of butterflies from his mouth to convince the skeptical Toni, who thinks that he is just a good storyteller, of his divinity. Before the startled proprietor, who finally comes to believe him, the disgorged kaleidoscope of colourful insects flutter purposefully and converge to form a brand new neon sign for the establishment. Through time lapse photography, the audience is fast forwarded seventy years to the present day Inn where, as ultimate proof of the Rabbit God's power, the motel is brimming with business and Toni appears resplendent as ever, nary a day older than when she first met him.

Still frames from the episode:

AmericanGodsGay01.jpg AmericanGodsGay02.jpg AmericanGodsGay03.jpg AmericanGodsGay04.jpg AmericanGodsGay07.jpg AmericanGodsGay09.jpg AmericanGodsGay10.jpg AmericanGodsGay12.jpg AmericanGodsGay13.jpg AmericanGodsGay15.jpg AmericanGodsGay16.jpg AmericanGodsGay17.jpg AmericanGodsGay18.jpg AmericanGodsGay19.jpg AmericanGodsGay20.jpg AmericanGodsGay21.jpg AmericanGodsGay22.jpg AmericanGodsGay23.jpg AmericanGodsGay25.jpg AmericanGodsGay26.jpg AmericanGodsGay27.jpg AmericanGodsGay30.jpg AmericanGodsGay31.jpg AmericanGodsGay32.jpg AmericanGodsGay33.jpg AmericanGodsGay34.jpg AmericanGodsGay35.jpg AmericanGodsGay37.jpg AmericanGodsGay38.jpg AmericanGodsGay40.jpg AmericanGodsGay41.jpg AmericanGodsGay43.jpg

Watch a video synopsis in Chinese of the episode[30]:


Other Rabbit God documentaries[edit | edit source]

2015[edit | edit source]

[31]

Gay_Temple_In_Taiwan_A_Sanctuary_Against_Religious_Intolerance_-_NowThis

Gay Temple In Taiwan A Sanctuary Against Religious Intolerance - NowThis


BBC News 中文: 位於台北的道教“威明堂兔兒神殿”很多善信來自台灣同志社群。其中兩位參拜者談談他們到兔兒神殿的原因 (BBC News Chinese: Daoist "Weimingtang Rabbit Shrine" in Taipei. Many believers come from the Taiwanese gay community. Two of the visitors talk about the reason why they have come to the Rabbit Temple)[https://youtu.be/abSidDFK_ec}

受同志社群歡迎的台北道教廟堂

受同志社群歡迎的台北道教廟堂


2016[edit | edit source]

[32]

Gay_Rabbit_God_-_Stuff_That_I_Find_Interesting

Gay Rabbit God - Stuff That I Find Interesting


2017[edit | edit source]

[33]

Rabbit_God

Rabbit God


Zhang Zhongqiang, a fifth generation clay sculpting craftsman, shares the history of the folk craft of sculpting Rabbit God (Tu'er Ye) figurines and also demonstrates the production processes.

2018[edit | edit source]

[34]

Tu'er_Ye

Tu'er Ye


The Rabbit God (Tu'er Ye) is a symbol of old Beijing. Figurines depicting the deity are usually sold during the Mid-autumn Festival in Beijing. The figurines are said to bring good luck, good health, and safety. This documentary invites a fifth generation clay Rabbit God sculptor to tell viewers more about the history and story of the Rabbit God.

2019[edit | edit source]

[35]

Asian_Mythology-_The_God_of_Homosexual_Love

Asian Mythology- The God of Homosexual Love


Facebook group[edit | edit source]

On 10 August 2020, a public Facebook group named Tu Shen - Journey to the West was set up by Edward H. Sebesta for those who intend to visit or have actually been to New Taipei City to see the Rabbit God Temple to share their experiences and thoughts[36].

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Michael Gold, "Taiwan's Wei-Ming 'Rabbit' Temple Draws Gay Community", Reuters, 19 January 2015[37],[38].
  • Michael Gold, "Taiwan's gays pray for soul mates at 'Rabbit' temple", Reuters, 19 January 2015[39].
  • Amrutha Gayathri, "Taiwan Monastery Holds Country’s First Same-Sex Buddhist Wedding", International Business Times, 13 August 2012[40].
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  • https://www.gagaoolala.com/en/videos/1390/kiss-of-the-rabbit-god-2019
  • https://supchina.com/2020/10/09/how-fujian-was-once-an-lgbt-mecca/

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Acknowledgements[edit | edit source]

This article was written by Roy Tan.

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