Posts Tagged ‘gay’

Changing Times for Queer Lives in China

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Lesbian wedding in China (Photo from crtv.nl)

by Isabella Tianzi Cai

In a “Letter from China” column for the New York Times on September 1, 2010, Howard W. French elaborates on China’s changing attitude towards queer culture based on his personal observations in Shanghai. Having worked and lived in Shanghai for just under a decade, French is well aware of Chinese people’s increasing psychological tolerance towards homosexuals in their midst.

French says that it is most evident in “public intimacy between women,” which he supports in the letter by recounting a few of his personal experiences, most memorably, witnessing two teenage girls kissing passionately in a Shanghai subway car, without regard for the older passengers watching them with consternation. It should be noted that this incident is without precedent; a similar event in 2008 was captured on video and created a stir when posted on the internet.

French offers his understanding of this social phenomenon:

As this society rapidly grows richer, its social fabric and mores have been changing in ways far more dramatic than even the physical landscape, and sexual choice and expression are arguably in the leading edge of this upheaval.

Although this trend, as articulated by French, is more or less inevitable, the transition from a conservative society to a liberal one is neither as easy or as fast as he makes it out to be.

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Film Threat Reviews Queer China, ‘Comrade China’

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Queer China, 'Comrade China' (dir. Cui Zi'en)

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

In the online film journal Film Threat, Phil Hall recently reviewed Cui Zi’en’s ‘Queer China, Comrade China’, calling it “a genuinely fascinating look at Chinese sociology in a state of continual evolution.”

Hall’s review reiterates the issues raised in Cui’s work, which examines China’s LGBT culture and history through a number of insightful interviews from various political, historical, cultural, legal, as well as psychological viewpoints. He condenses the first half of the documentary as follows:

China was relatively late in openly acknowledging the basic civil rights of its homosexual population – it wasn’t until 1997 that the Communist government decriminalized “hooliganism,” as it was officially known. However, the acceptance of non-heterosexuals into a mainstream societal position has been complicated, although the resistance bears no resemblance to the religious-fueled homophobia that has become commonplace in the United States. Indeed, the film explains that same-sex unions are seen by many as a disruption of the yin-yang harmony within the Chinese mindframe and the disruption of the cohesive family unit that was stressed since Mao Zedong’s rise to power.

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Mr. Gay China Wins Prize in Worldwide Pageant

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Xiaodai Muyi (photo courtesy of Worldwide Mr. Gay)

Following up on the saga that unfolded last month over the Mr. Gay China pageant, it turns out that after the pageant had been shut down by the Beijing police, the organizers of the event went ahead and sent a delegate to the Worldwide Mr. Gay competition in Oslo, Norway. The delegate went on to finish third runner up in the competition, which concluded February 14.

In an added twist, the delegate, Xiaodai Muyi, is a 25 year old Chinese Muslim from Xinjiang province. Xinjiang has long experienced social turmoil between ethnic Han and Muslim Chinese, that exploded into deadly riots last summer.

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Police Shut Down “Mr. Gay China”

Friday, January 15th, 2010

The Associated Press reports that police shut down China’s first ever gay pageant, “Mr. Gay China” an hour before it was set to begin.

Event organizer Ben Zhang relayed the cause given by the police: “”They said the content, meaning homosexuality, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you did not do things according to procedures.” But the AP report states that “Chinese police frequently cite procedural reasons for closing down gatherings deemed politically sensitive, and authorities have harassed gays in the past.”

Eight men were due to compete with each one hoping to be picked to go forward the Worldwide Mr Gay pageant in Norway next month. The event was to include a fashion show, swimwear and talent competition, and a host in drag.

The organizers are considering having the judges select one contestant to send to the world competition.

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Gay Pageant Latest Chapter in Queer China

Thursday, January 14th, 2010
Image courtesy of Shanghaist

Image courtesy of Shanghaist

The Guardian reports on Mr. Gay China, the first gay pageant to ever be held in China:

“We are intelligent, we’re professionals, we’re gorgeous – and we’re gay,” said contestant Emilio Liu, from Inner Mongolia. “I want the audience to know there are a whole bunch of people like us living in China. It’s a wonderful life and it’s not hidden any more.”

These days there are gay support groups and websites helping people to explore their sexuality and meet potential partners. There are gay venues in most major cities; last year, the first government-backed bar opened in Kunming, in south-western Yunnan. Shanghai held the first Gay Pride week and in Beijing, campaigners called for same-sex marriages.

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Queer China: Mainland China’s First Gay Pride Event

Friday, June 12th, 2009

ShanghaiPRIDE WeekJune 7 saw the launch of China’s first gay pride event, ShanghaiPRIDE, which includes club events, film screenings, art shows and panel discussions on the issue of homosexuality. It is the largest festival of LGBT communities in mainland China to date. On June 10, China Daily praised the event as a “showcase of the country’s social progress alongside the three decades of economic boom” and “an event of profound significance”. However, later that day, BBC News reported a government ban on a play and a film screening, which proves that homosexuality is still a complicated and controversial issue in China, although with more tolerance than before.

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