Police Shut Down Mr. Gay China Pageant

  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9191

    Jan 15, 2010 7:29 PM GMT

    BEIJING - Police shut down what would have been China's first gay pageant on Friday an hour before it was set to begin, highlighting the enduring sensitivity surrounding homosexuality and the struggle by gays to find mainstream acceptance.

    Organizers said they were not surprised when eight police officers turned up at the upscale club in central Beijing where the pageant, featuring a fashion show and a host in drag, was set to take place.

    "They said the content, meaning homosexuality, there's nothing wrong with that, but you did not do things according to procedures," Ben Zhang said. Police told him he needed official approval for events that included performances, in this case a stage show.

    "I kind of saw that coming," Zhang said.

    Chinese police frequently cite procedural reasons for closing down gatherings that are deemed to be politically sensitive. Though the pageant did not have any overt political agenda, similar events in the past — such as a parade during the Shanghai Pride Festival last year — have been blocked by authorities.

    "It totally has to do with moral standards and culture," said contestant Emilio Liu, 26. "If most people can't accept it, then the government won't let it happen."

    Zhang had said he hoped the pageant would raise awareness of homosexuals in a country where gays are frequently discriminated against and ostracized. Eight men were competing for the title and a spot in the Worldwide Mr. Gay pageant, to be held next month in Oslo, Norway.

    The Mr. Gay China pageant had attracted a great deal of press attention and even the normally staid state-run media reported on the event this week. Tickets, which cost 100 yuan (US$14.60) and 150 yuan (US$22.00), sold out three days ago.

    "I feel really sad. This was going to be a very good event to show a positive image of gay people," said Wei Xiaogang, a pageant judge and host of Queer Comrades, a popular Internet talk show on gay issues.

    Guests began trickling in after Zhang's announcement to the 50-plus journalists at the club. Some guests hugged each other after learning the show would not be taking place after all, while suit-clad club staff members began stacking up the chairs. Still, the mood was not entirely somber.

    "I'm a bit disappointed but I can also relax now. I don't have to be on a diet anymore," Liu joked.

    Contestant Simon Wang, who had planned to perform a self-choreographed dance to Lady Gaga's "LoveGame," struck cheeky poses for the cameras, while wearing green trousers and black straps across his bare chest, topped with furry maroon shoulder pads.

    Someone had scribbled on the black backdrop behind him: "The revolution has not succeeded, comrades need to work harder." Comrade is the slang term for gays in China.

    Organizers still planned to send a China representative to Oslo and will probably ask the pageant judges to choose someone from the contestants, organizer Ryan Dutcher said.

    Gay rights in China have come a long way since the years just after the 1949 communist revolution when homosexuality was considered a disease from the decadent West and feudal societies, and gay people were persecuted. Sodomy was decriminalized in 1997, and homosexuality was finally removed from the official list of mental disorders in 2001.

    But tellingly, most of the contestants interviewed asked The Associated Press to use their English names instead of Chinese names, to better protect their identities at home. While treatment of gays has improved in recent years, many are still reticent to draw attention to their homosexuality, particularly in the workplace.

    Chinese authorities had appeared to be more open toward addressing gay issues in recent months. The country's first gay pride festival was held in Shanghai, the nation's commercial capital, last June. That month also featured the five-day Beijing Queer Film Festival — an event that police blocked in 2001 and 2005.

    China is officially atheistic, and without religious reasons for opposing homosexuality, attitudes are slowly shifting among city dwellers from one of intolerance to indifference. Gays living in big cities, like nearly all the men participating in the pageant, said their biggest challenge was dealing with parents and deeply ingrained expectations for them to get married and have children.

    But Liu said he thought it would be 10 years before anyone can successfully organize a gay pageant in China.

    "Cultural change needs time, society isn't going to change tomorrow," he said.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 15, 2010 9:49 PM GMT
    For goodness sakes it's in a communist country, what can you expect!

    You know before communism died in Russia, there was no such thing as a flamer in Communist Russia, now they are a dime a dozen; how things change.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 16, 2010 5:42 AM GMT
    Pattison saidFor goodness sakes it's in a communist country, what can you expect!

    You know before communism died in Russia, there was no such thing as a flamer in Communist Russia, now they are a dime a dozen; how things change.

    It's because communism enforces this idea that everyone is exactly the same. Therefore, homosexuality does not exist because everyone is heterosexual.
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9225

    Jan 16, 2010 11:47 AM GMT
    The Chinese government still thinks that they can completely control their peoples lives and isolate them from the outside world. But, the internet has made that virtually impossible. Sooner or later, they will have to join the 21st century and accept that they've been wrong, for how many centuries ?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 16, 2010 12:20 PM GMT
    Just because the higher ups have started to open their doors a little doesn't mean that the entrenched little power-hungry sycophants have too. Especially police.

    This has happened in a lot of countries that have started to decriminalize homosexuality as well. Even in the US. Homophobic police trying to find any conceivable reason to shut down events like these.

    But then again... it's China, and it's that pretty little totalitarian lie called Communism. What did you expect?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 16, 2010 1:04 PM GMT
    Hate to point this out, but communism isn't everyone being exactly the same, its an ideology towards economic equality and classlessness. Evidently, the holding of Gay Pride in Shanghai last year refutes some of the more extreme claims in this thread so far, to what extent there is acceptance however is of course debatable.

    Just a question quickly though, a point which the police raised, but was not addressed by the Gay Pageant in the article, did they or did they not apply for official permission? If it is in fact a requirement to obtain official permission for performances, and the Gay Pageant neither attained nor sought to attain such permission, I really don't see how they have a leg to stand on.