While April is Alcohol Awareness Month in the States (some of you might be in the dark). If you are living in China, it might as well be
Promoting the Gay Agenda Month Online Gay TV Awareness Month with news of the arrival of three online gay TV shows.
Earlier this month, we reported about China’s first online TV show about issues relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities within China. Aired via streaming video on Phoenix TV’s website, the show entitled, Gay Connections claimed to be the first program of its kind in China. That claim has been, um, repeated recently with the premiere of two other online TV shows about the LGBT scene in China.
The first challenger to the title of first LGBT online TV show in China is 同志亦凡人 or Queer As Folk in English (not to be confused with the long-running British and American shows), which you can watch here. Based in Beijing, the low-budget production has no Chinese subtitles and both hosts of the show (Steven and Xiaogang) sit together on one side of a table, while the week’s guest sits on the other side. One of the interesting features of this show is that its two roving reporters are Chinese-speaking laowai guys named Jack Beck and Martin Trojanowski.
Not to be outdone, Sina.com has also rushed to produce its own show entitled 同志仍需努力 or Comrades Must Carry On (the term 同志 or ‘comrade’ is a euphemism for ‘gay’ in colloquial Chinese), which will go on air in May and will be hosted by director Cheng Qingsong. Our well-informed friends at China Digital Times tell us this is a reference to the reputed last words of Sun Yat-Sen, “The Revolution has yet to succeed. The Comrades must carry on.” (革命尚未成功，同志仍须努力). The show makes the very dubious claim in its press release (in Chinese) that it is not only to be the first gay TV show in China, but in all of Asia! (Sometimes you have to give it to Sina’s marketing guys!) Read more about the ensuing controversy over who’s really first here.
While international news outlets like the BBC, CNN and the IHT have all been quick to cover the supposed advent of Chinese gay TV, mixed reviews have been received from Chinese viewers. Shanghaiist thinks that while Chinese media have often been derided for being overly acquiescent to the state, they have to be given credit for creatively pushing back the ambiguous out-of-boundary markers of state censors, especially in recent years. And to the cynics out there, we would just like to say that these shows are really not about preaching to the converted, but for reaching out to the large swathes of ignorant masses here. In this arena, the Internet presents much hope and opens up previously unthinkable opportunities. With time, one can only hope that these issues can be given a proper airing not just on the Internet, but also on state TV, because let’s not forget — over a billion Chinese people are not online just yet.
Kudos also to guys like those behind 同志亦凡人 (Queer as Folk), who have taken it upon themselves to do their bit for the promotion of understanding, even without the deep pockets of broadcasters like PhoenixTV or the backing of a marketing machinery like Sina.com. Yes, thank God for the Internet, for digicams and for blogging technology!
 To be fair, we asked a gay Chinese friend to watch the first episode of the Chinese Queer as Folk show and his review was: “It’s not worth writing an article about. The hosts are the most superficial people in the world. It sucks.”
Watch the first episode of Queer As Folk at the show’s blog, Sina Podcast, UUME, or Ku6
Watch clips of Gay Connections: from user xinigxingjiema on uume.com
Gay Internet talk show (Danwei)
Beijing’s Pink Spring (Jonathan Ansfield of China Digital Times)
Chinese TV comes out of the closet (by Dinah Gardner for Fridae.com)
Kenneth Tan contributed to this report.