The gay wife of Iceland's prime minister took centre stage this week at a reception in her honour during a visit to the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), but her sexuality was largely off the table in discussions with students.
Aside from Monday's appearance at the university, first lady Jonina Leosdottir has kept out of the public eye in her capacity as wife of Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir since they arrived in China on Saturday for a five-day state visit.
A BFSU student said they discussed with Leosdottir her career as a novelist specialising in teen issues, and the accessibility of the prime minister's home.
He said they were told that there were no security guards at the leader's residence in Iceland, so people can drop by for tea with Sigurdardottir.
"She also said that she used to be a single mother and her son stayed in China for six years, but she never visited him because she was afraid of flying," the student said. He also said no one raised the issue of her sexuality during the meeting with students majoring in Icelandic.
An LED sign atop the university's main building welcomed Leosdottir and addressed her as the Iceland's prime minister's wife, as did a greeting in the conference room they spoke in.
And a news release about her visit and meeting with university president Han Zhen also referred to her as the prime minister's wife.
The open acknowledgment was in stark contrast to the omission of Leosdottir's name from state media coverage, including China Central Television's broadcasts. Homosexuality remains largely taboo in China.
The gay and lesbian community blasted CCTV for omitting any reference to Sigardurdottir's wife, and contrasted that with previous mentions of the spouses of other visiting foreign leaders.
Mainlanders were also in the dark about Sigurdardottir's expression of gratitude to Premier Li Keqiang for the hospitality she and her wife received.