Mainland China is about to come out as
Shanghai puts on its first Gay Pride.
The celebration begins Sunday and will
culminate with the big party on Saturday, June 13.
While Hong Kong festooned itself with
rainbow pride last year, Shanghai
Pride is the first large-scale gay event to be held on the
“Shanghai is undoubtedly China's most
liberal and progressive city and it is the logical choice to host
Mainland China's first gay pride festival,” co-organizer Hannah
Miller, an openly lesbian American living in China since 2001, said
in a press release. “It speaks volumes for China's advancement
that such an event can now be organized – it shows that China is
becoming a modern, tolerant and forward-thinking nation.”
But don't expect to see revelers in the
streets enjoying drag queens lip syncing from on top of brightly
colored floats surrounded by bikini-clad dancers or demonstrators
calling for greater access to rights in Shanghai. Instead,
organizers are planning a series of cultural events to take place at
“The advantage of that is it doesn't
draw so much attention, or make it sound like we are trying to get
people involved in gay rights or in any sort of protest,” Miller
told the BBC.
“Basically we were told that if we
framed it as a party for foreigners, as entertainment, then we would
have more chance of success.”
The entertainment consists of daily art
exhibits, film screenings, food events and panel discussions
throughout the week.
But not everyone agrees with a Gay
Pride that promotes partying over activism.
“Gay weddings? Is this a joke like
the 'hot body competition?,'” asked one commenter at the Shanghai
Pride website. “Where is the protest? The marching for
“One step at a time!” responds the
While being gay or lesbian is not
illegal in China, gay culture remains underground in this
conservative society. Young people – gay and straight – feel
enormous pressure to procreate due to China's 1 child per couple