HONG KONG -- Growing up homosexual in a small city in southern China, "J.L." used to feel alone in the world. There were no gay bars in his hometown, Sanming, in a mountainous region in Fujian Province. Nor would anyone in his social circle discuss such a topic. Only in 2012, when J.L. came across a smartphone application called Blued, did he realize that there were others -- millions -- like him.
Then a middle schooler, he was surfing online when his eye caught an app offering gay dating. "I was so surprised," J.L. recalled of his first encounter with Blued. He downloaded it and straightaway found another user 100 meters away.