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Gay Pageant Latest Chapter in Queer China

Image courtesy of Shanghaist

Image courtesy of Shanghaist

The Guardian reports on Mr. Gay China, the first gay pageant to ever be held in China:

“We are intelligent, we’re professionals, we’re gorgeous – and we’re gay,” said contestant Emilio Liu, from Inner Mongolia. “I want the audience to know there are a whole bunch of people like us living in China. It’s a wonderful life and it’s not hidden any more.” These days there are gay support groups and websites helping people to explore their sexuality and meet potential partners. There are gay venues in most major cities; last year, the first government-backed bar opened in Kunming, in south-western Yunnan. Shanghai held the first Gay Pride week and in Beijing, campaigners called for same-sex marriages. Now comes Mr Gay China, reported in approving terms in English-language state media. Eight finalists will take to the stage of a Beijing nightclub to strut their stuff in casual clothes and swimwear, exhibit their talents and answer questions. The winner – picked for his ability to represent gay issues as well as his skills, personality and looks – will head to Norway for next month’s finals of Worldwide Mr Gay.

It’s yet another striking development for gay culture and rights in China, given that gay sex was illegal in China until 1997, and homosexuality deemed an illness until 2001. Much of this is covered in Queer China, ‘Comrade China’, the first documentary of its kind, directed by queer activist and scholar Cui Zi’en. The documentary includes rarely seen footage of the first ever appearance of gays and lesbians on State television, including Cui Zi’en himself. Visit the dGenerate Films catalog for more information.

More information on the pageant, including video, can be found at The Guardian, and on the Mr. Gay China website. The winner will be announced January 15.


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