Has your relationship been blessed by the Rabbit Deity? No? That’s what I thought.
According to a folk tale from What the Master Would Not Discuss by Yuan Mei from the 17th century, Hu Tianbao (胡天保) fell in love with the imperial inspector of the Fujian Province. Hu Tianbao reluctantly confessed his affections toward the imperial inspector after he was caught spying on him through a bathroom wall. Consequently, Hu Tianbao was sentenced to death by beating. A month after later he is said to have appeared in a dream of another man in his village in which he claimed that the underworld officials decided to “correct” the injustice by appointing him the god and safe-guarder of homosexual affairs. And thus, a temple was built in Hu Tianbao’s honour in his home village.
In late imperial China “rabbits” was a derogatory term for homosexuals, which is why Hu Tianbao is referred to as the rabbit deity (Tu’er Shen, 兔兒神).
There has been a debate about whether or not Hu Tianbao was fictional. Professor Szonyi asserts that Hu Tianbao was nothing but an invention by Yuan. It is very possible that aspects of the story are fictitious, but the existence of the 18th century underground cult of Hu Tianbao certainly isn’t. The cult has been thoroughly documented in official Qing Dynasty records from their attempts to expunge the cult. Later official records suggest that it was still active in the late 19th century. Nevertheless, considering that the evidence is solely from the point of view of the officials who tried to suppress the practice and not from the its followers, the lifespan of the cult remains inconclusive.
The Rabbit Deity’s first temple may be long gone and the Chinese government may have been successful in the cult’s crackdown, but the good news is that there is still hope for you and your relationship! A Taoist priest, Lu Wei-ming (盧威明), founded a new Rabbit Temple in the Yonghe district of Taiwan and would be happy to help you out.