Police in China shut down the Mr. Gay China Pageant in Beijing an hour before the event was to start. Organizers planned the event to select a contestant for the Worldwide Mr. Gay Pageant to be held in Norway next month. The pageant is said to be the first of its kind in China and was to feature a fashion show, a question and answer session and a host in drag.
Professor Zhang Beichuan of Qingdao University had said, before the show was canceled, that:
…it reflects a more open and tolerant attitude of the country toward the gay community to host such an event.
In fact, before the show was canceled, many others weighed in on the effect and meaning of such a pageant in China, which only decriminalized homosexuality in 1997:
Eight Chinese men will strut their stuff in front of hundreds of people Friday at China’s first gay pageant, in a sign of new openness about homosexuality in a nation where it remains largely taboo. – Marianne Barriaux (AFP)
I believe most people will support us though I’m ready for a storm of criticism too. – Contestant, Steven Zhang
When the eight finalists of the first Mr. Gay China pageant strut the catwalk of a Beijing club this Friday, they’ll be doing something that was once unthinkable in a country where gay sex was illegal until 1997 and homosexuality was classed as a mental illness until 2001. – Jane Yager
The hope and dreams of what this pageant would mean in a country such as China, and the resulting closure of the pageant indicate that, while there may be no laws against homosexuality, LGBT people in China still suffer at the hands of a tyranny – but in spite of the stories turning up on the internet, you won’t see the story of police shutting down the pageant on google.cn now (click for screen shot) – or perhaps you won’t see anything from google.cn if China doesn’t stop the censoring.
Discrimination of this nature is nothing new for China, or many other countries in the world. For example, the organizers of China’s Gay Pride Festival were told to cancel two of their events last June or face “severe consequences.”