Shanghaiist intern Kirsti Jönson, who covered Shanghai Pride (a China first!) last week, gives us her account of the event and what it might mean for all the LGBTa living in China.
It’s never too late for a Shanghai Pride warp up, we say. Let’s face it: Shanghai Pride, mainland China´s first official week-long celebration of homos, bisexuals, transgendered, queers and all of those wonderful people ”in between”, was a tremendous rainbow-colored success.
One might ask what the difference was between this and a normal week amongst Shanghai’s queer community, which has long been coming together and socializing at the various gay venues around town. Unlike most Pride festivals around the world, Shanghai’s was only held in private places and most of the events were entertainment-oriented, in opposition to the more theoretical and political focus found in other places.
People watched movies, tasted wine, listened to the history of gay Shanghai, watched drag shows; they laughed, discussed, partied and sometimes got lucky. Sure, there was a lot of proud waving with rainbow flags, but only behind closed doors. Can´t a Shanghai queer choose to do all of that any day of the week, any week of the year?
Well, they could, but there was a difference this time. A huge difference.
This time they did it while the eyes of the world were watching. Private venues, closed doors – it didn’t matter since both national and international media were there to see and spread the word about queer life in China. BBC, The New York Times, China Daily, NPR and Le Monde wrote up tributes, and gay and lesbian bloggers in China and around the world followed the festival with intense interest.
Also, just organizing events in the name of Pride has a symbolic value in itself. Every LGBT knows the difference between celebrating Gay Pride and going out under the tacit understanding that, even if you’re not being punished, you’re not being recognized.
This time had the added benefit of seeing lesbians and gays, bisexuals and transgendered, partying together, not separately. During most time of the year, queer life in Shanghai is divided between the sexes, but on this very proud week, the different fractions of queer community merged together in one big happy soap bubble.
There was one little piece missing though, and as such, a quite important one: the Chinese lalas, that is, the local lesbian or bisexual girls – almost none showed up during the week. This is a sad mystery that needs further investigation.
The official interference in the middle of the week, shutting down some of the events, was unfortunate, but that dip might have caused the party spirit to rise even higher on Saturday, at the all day rounding up party at Cotton´s. Don´t they say that facing resistance just feeds the fire even more?
Also on Shanghaiist:
Authorities intervene with Shanghai Pride
Shanghai Pride Panel: Gay venues and spaces in Shanghai
Eye on Gay Shanghai: Day 1 of Mainland China’s 1st Gay Pride
Read some of the articles about Shanghai Pride written around the world:
Shanghai hosts first gay pride festival
Gay festival teaches tolerance
Pride of tolerance
NEW YORK TIMES
Gay Festival in China Pushes Official Boundaries
China Gay-Pride event meets obstacles
Shanghai to show pride with gay festival
China bans parts of gay festival