Zaobao: Shanghai Pride Week

17 June 2009
Lianhe Zaobao

English translation by Signeller Kay Loh. Original Chinese text follows below.

(Breakfast news – The New Shanghainese) “The Shanghai Pride Week”

2000-06-17.   He Xi Wei

Last Monday, at a chit chat session that was supposed to be attended by youngsters, the appearance of an “uncle” with grey hair stood out like a sore thumb.

It was a discussion related to the developmental process on homosexuality in China, and the majority of attendees are either “comrades” in the circle or people driven by curiosity to take a peep at the psychology of gays. However, the reasons given by “uncle” was different: the organizers knew later that because his daughter was also gay, “uncle” wished to take part in the discussions to better understand his daughter.

Last Saturday, a six-colored rainbow flag, symbolic  of the multi-nature of homosexuals, appeared in front of a bar, and atop of the flag hang a banner proclaiming such as “welcome to world expo” and “experiencing progress in scientific outlook” etc, which were slogans  understood by smiling  visitors to the bar.

Yes, the one-week Pride series of event “Shanghai Pride Week” took place with the intention to increase understanding of homosexuals for the public while not posing any challenge to the authorities for the first time in China’s best known most open city of Shanghai.

In order not to attract attention and  invite trouble in organizing large scale gatherings and activities especially during this politically hypersensitive year, the organizers LGBT internet group didn’t plan it the way Americans and Europeans  would have planned big processions. Instead, they put up discussion session, gay movies appreciation, reading sharing , wine tasting and BBQ etc.

Even the most eye-catching gay wedding staged asked no political favors, while four pairs of gay lovers chose to exchange vows witnessed by the crowd of thousand.

In addition, the propaganda and advertisements were all written in English as the main organizer were so called “aliens”. Even those present were mainly “aliens”, and according to Associate Professor Gao Yen Nin of Fudan University Faculty of Public Health, these activities were concentrated along coastal cities where the “aliens” were, as part of their lifestyles.

Gao told the writer that the “aliens” took the lead to stage such activities hoping to “enrich their living spaces a little while adding some comfort to their lives”, which was “qualitatively different” from the Westerners’ usual approach. They didn’t ask for more rights nor encourage “coming out of the closet” nor demand legalization of gay marriages.

But not all went well in the “Shanghai Pride Week” as far as the activities were concerned. According to the organizers, a film show scheduled for last Wednesday was called off by the Department of Work and Trade; a related play could not be staged; and because of the change in mind from earlier agreements by some of the property owners that resulted in last minute frantic search for new venues.

Ironically, on the same day that these activities were stopped by the officials, the de facto government [China Daily] English paper published an article on “Raising the visibility of the Homosexual Community” onto the same footing as USA President Obama in pronouncing June the American Gay Month.

The Editorial in the same paper also mentioned that these activities were “showcased the part and parcel of social progress in the midst of the country’s 30 years rapid economy take off”, and further expressed that it has not only communicated a message of higher acceptance and tolerance to the 1.3 billion Chinese population but also has paved a far and deep interpretation to the rest of the world, albeit with low key and scale.

Many foreign media correspondents also highlighted the “Shanghai Pride Week” as a test for the extent of openness of Shanghai and China. A Reuters’ report observed that in order for Shanghai to host the World Expo next year and establish itself as China’s first “financial capital”, it has to be more international and open; [The New York Times] said these carefully orchestrated activities during the week revealed one side of the paths travelled by Chinese homosexual communities and the other side forecasted a rather long road ahead; but on the other hand, [Newsweek] pointed out although there wasn’t any religious agenda in China compared to some other countries to outlaw homosexuals, coming out in the public would still be avoided.

Whether it was interviews by media or explanations given to netizens on the absence of a procession, the organizers replied with the same “one step at one time”, and this isn’t without reasons. The closet is getting larger, but whether the person inside is willing to come out doesn’t  depend on the open door alone.




● 何惜薇





为了不惹上麻烦,特别是不在这个政治敏感年因举办大型集会和活动而引起关注,主办方LGBT(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender)网络社群,并未如欧美同性恋组织般举行大规模游行。他们举办的是研讨会、同性恋电影观摩会、阅读分享会、品酒和烧烤会等等活动。







众多外国媒体也不忘在报道中突出“上海骄傲周”的举行考验了上海和中国的开放程度。据路透社报道,一些人察觉,上海这个明年要举行世博会,并立志成为国 际金融中心的中国“金融首都”,更国际化、开放了;《纽约时报》说这个细心编排的活动周,一方面揭示中国同性恋社区所走过的路,一方面预示着它还有颇长的 一段路得走;而《新闻周刊》则指出,虽然中国不如一些国家般因宗教原因而更为排斥同性恋者,但同性恋者公然表达性倾向仍是个禁忌。



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