Shanghai Pride is nearing its end, but those who participated are hopeful for its future and the future of LGBTQ people in China.
This year’s Shanghai Pride marks its 10th anniversary and many celebrated (and some still are).
The theme for the 2018 version is “our community, our identity, our pride.” The event is still ongoing and will continue until the 18th, but many of the 40 scheduled events such as the Pink Brunch, the sexual harassment awareness panel, trivia night, some of the film festival, and more have already finished.
With the end of the event nearing, many are looking back at this year’s Shanghai pride and also the journey of LGBTQ people in China.
“None of us imagined we’d organize ten of these,” said Shanghai Pride cofounder Charlene Liu to TIME. “I came out through Shanghai Pride, I met my wife through Shanghai Pride, so today is very emotional for us.”
Historically, China had a fruitful relationship with homosexuality. Several Chinese emperors had homosexual relationships and ancient Chinese annals celebrated same-sex love.
Unfortunately, the Westernization of the country led to a toxic attitude towards LGBTQ life and love. This has continued all the way to today’s ruling Communist Party, which is officially atheist but carries a lot of that earlier homophobic mentality.
Since then, the Chinese government has shown inconsistent treatment of LGBTQ people. The country’s officials state that LGBTQ people have rights like any other and support LGBTQ businesses like gay app Blued, but they censor LGBTQ media and prohibit large gatherings of LGBTQ people.
The latter was a source of concern for Brian Song, who helped to organize Shanghai Pride’s The Journey of Light choir concert.
“We were a little bit worried that maybe our concert would get canceled because of the current environment regarding LGBT in the media,” he says. “We’re not really free to publicize our community right now.”
That said, attitudes towards LGBTQ people are slowly changing for Chinese people.
For instance, many social media users complained and protested when Weibo, essentially China’s Twitter, tried to ban gay content in April. In addition, the Chinese government then shared that it supported LGBTQ people on the site.
With ten years under its belt and a slow shift in support for LGBTQ people, the participants of Shanghai Pride have a lot to be thankful for and are looking forward to the future.
“There is more and more awareness right now, which is good, so I think people will get more accepting of what we do, who we are,” said Garbo Huang from Hong Kong, who’s lived in Shanghai for seven years. “We’ll just keep on marching forward.”
h/t: TIME Magazine