Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mr. Gay China pageant shut down. Wait, there was going to be a Mr. Gay China pageant?

Almost as surprising as the 11th-hour shutdown of China's inaugural gay pageant (due to "inadequate paperwork") -- actually, much more surprising -- was that there was going to be one to begin with.

Christine Laskowski of China Daily reporting:

One contestant, 26 year-old Emilio Liu, told METRO he did not think it was possible at first: "When Ben first asked me about [the pageant] I accepted as a joke," he said. "I accepted because I never thought something like this would happen in China."

The article goes on to say, "The winner will compete in the final competition in Oslo, Norway in February," which caused me to comment to a friend, "Are there no ends to which China won't go to participate in global contests?"

Indeed, the country's desire to be No. 1 in everything may best be summarized by its sponsorship -- now withdrawn, obviously -- of a gay pageant. Not to imply that the gay population in this country is any more stigmatized than in others -- no Chinese politician has said, ala Ahmadinejad at Columbia University, that "there are no homosexuals" within the country's borders -- but there is no question the homosexual population is the elephant on the census, consistently ignored and, probably, under-reported.

Most people say the situation is improving here (what isn't improving, eh?), and that may well be the case. But where does the latest setback -- if it can be classified as such -- fit into this narrative? What next? As Ryan Dutcher, co-founder and communications director for Gayographic, said in the China Daily article, "It's hard to say. It's something that's happened before. Not a step back, but definitely not a step forward."

Something tells me the story's not finished.

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