Rainbow flag hoisted at UK pavilion (2)

19:47, July 15, 2010      

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Shanghai held its inaugural Gay Pride Week last year from June 7-13, the first event of its kind staged on the Chinese mainland. There was no mass parade but 3,000 people attended the weeklong activities, which included art exhibitions, movie screenings and indoor parties.

Hong Kong held a similar festival in 2008. Beijing got involved last month with its Jing Pride. This saw drag queens and straight guys dressed as women raising money for AIDS charities and raising the profile of the conservative capital's LGBT community.

The biggest irony about Wednesday's party was that it was held at night, at a period when the city's gay community is trying to "get gays out of the bathhouses and into the sunlight," he said.

In a move to promote this, the Rainbow League organizes numerous gay sports, a gay English corner at one of the city's restaurants and other daytime events. This Saturday it will celebrate its second anniversary with a camouflage beach party and the final of Season 1 of "Gay Idol", a mock reference to the TV show American Idol.

"Gay people love karaoke," said Mahoney. "The problem is most gay ex-pats here think the gay scene is restricted to the nightlife. We're at a stage now where we'd like to change that view."

Wednesday's party inside the Expo was fairly subdued. There was no music, no fancy dress - apart from the presence of two transgendered invitees - and little to indicate it was anything other than a regular gathering.

Two dozen members of Shanghai's male gay community turned up but the only female couple turned out to a pair of straight Shanghainese saleswomen looking to expand their customer base for a French brand of male cosmetics.

The absence of Shanghai's lesbian community hints at its "fractured, hidden and often violent nature", said Mahoney. The city has about 12 gay and three lesbian bars.

Source: China Daily
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