Zaobao: Shanghai Pride Week

17 June 2009
Lianhe Zaobao
Source

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.

—————

[中国早点-新上海人]“上海骄傲周”

(2009-06-17)

● 何惜薇

上周一,在一个出席者大都为年轻男女的座谈会上,一个头发斑白“大叔”的身影显得格格不入。

那是一个讨论中国同性恋发展过程的座谈会,大部分出席者不是圈子里的“同志”,就是在好奇心驱使下到场一窥“同志”心理的人们。“大叔”的参与理由却与众不同:主办方后来得知,由于其女儿是个同性恋者,“大叔”希望通过座谈会更了解女儿的想法。

上周六,象征同性恋社群多元性的六色彩虹旗出现在一家酒吧门口,彩虹旗的上端却挂上有“迎世博”和体现“科学发展观”等字眼的“口号”旗帜,令出入酒吧者无不发出会心一笑。

是的,为期一周的同性恋系列活动“上海骄傲周”,就是在这么一种要提高人们对同性恋社群了解,又不挑战权威的氛围下,于号称中国最开放城市之一的上海首次举行。

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。

就算是期间最抢眼球的同性婚典,也没抹上政治诉求,当时四对同性恋人选择在上千人的见证下,许下对彼此的承诺。

加上宣传文案都以英文撰写,主要发起人是所谓的“老外”,而出席活动者也以“老外”为主,复旦大学公共卫生学院副教授高燕宁认为,活动是聚集于沿海城市的“老外”一种“对生活的诉求”。

高燕宁告诉笔者,“老外”带头举办活动是希望“生活空间更丰富一点儿,生活更自在一点儿”,跟西方同性恋组织的活动有“本质上的差别”,既不把同性恋者的权益挂在嘴边,也不公然鼓励“出柜”或要求同性婚姻合法化。

然而,不是所有“上海骄傲周”的活动都得以顺利举行。据主办方透露,一个同性恋电影放映活动,上周三被工商部门叫停;一个相关的戏剧没能顺利搬上舞台;主办方也因为部分业主改变初衷,不再让活动在原来的地点进行,临时慌忙地找场地。

吊诡的是,在工商部门叫停同性恋电影放映活动当天,中国官方英文报章《中国日报》刊登了一则报道,把“上海骄傲周”提高同性恋社区可见度的做法,与美国总统奥巴马宣布6月为美国同性恋月相提并论。

同一天的《中国日报》评论还说活动是“国家30年经济腾飞当儿,社会取得进步的展示”,并表示活动向13亿中国人传达了更高度接受和宽容的信息,尽管相对低调和小规模,却也对中国乃至世界而言寓意深远。

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。

无论是接受媒体采访或是面对网友对于不游行的批评,主办方都以“一步一步来”回应,这并非没有道理。柜子是越来越大了,但里头的人是否愿意走出来,原因岂是柜子门是否敞开而已?

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