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Chinese government: It's OK to be gay, just don't make a fuss

A more caring State Council Information Office?

About two weeks ago, the 2005 Beijing Gay and Lesbian Cultural Festival — a weekend of gay-themed activities — was stopped by the police.

Blogging filmmaker Beijing or Bust posted the following report:

[11:00am] Received a text message from my friend Bill that the first gay & lesbian cultural festival has changed venue...

Bill had called a hotline and found out that new venue is On/Off, once THE weekend gay partying destination but now a distant runner up after the new gay bar Destination. Told him I will be there at 7pm for the opening speech by Li Yinhe, the famous scholar and writer on contemporary gay and AIDS issue in China...

Bill just called. He went to On/Off at 5pm for the opening cocktail party. But the police closed down On/Off. He said the entire group of people there, about 50 to 60, were going to have a hotpot dinner. I asked why the police closed it down. He wasn’t sure...

Walking with Bill to a different restaurant to meet friends for dinner. Just passed On/Off. On the door a poster had been put up to announce “Temporarily Closed to Fix Plumbing”...

The end of the Gay and Lesbian Culture Festival did not affect the weekend's gaynightlife. Beijing or Bust describes the scene at Destination:

After a few drinks my eyes started to blur. The gay man I had planned to interview was chatting with his very cute and very young “friend”. A couple of gay punks with their hair dyed blond danced cheek-to-cheek in front of me. A business-type in a very nice dress jacket was squeezing his way into the dance floor with his two handsome assistants. A group of young and trendy guys occupied a corner, barely moved their hips and looked at the dancing crowd with a slight disdain. Student types were hopping up and down like crazy. Fag-hags were smiling their big smiles. And standing in the corners in 2s and 3s, dressed in the latest street fashion, were the money boys who were straight but making a living with the gay renminbi...

...The DJ started playing Madonna’s new song, Hung Up. The crowd got denser on the dance floor. I shook my hips and scanned the crowd and a sense of joy overwhelmed me – the cage has been broken; no matter how much the authority wants to control public discussion, no matter how much cultural pressure there still exists, and no matter how many problems there are with the evolution of gay life in Beijing – commercialism, AIDS, prostitution, etc., the freedom expands and like many other trends in China, can no longer be reversed.

At the same time as all of this was going on, the state-owned weekly Beijing Review published an issue with the front cover pictured above — Accepting Alternative Lifestyle. The magazine contains a feature story about gay life in China, complete with a vocabulary guide:

Pocket Dictionary of China’s Homosexuals

- Tongzhi (comrade): used by Chinese gays and lesbians to refer to themselves
- 1: refers to the male role in a gay relationship
- 0: refers to the female role in a gay relationship
- T: refers to tomboy, or the male role in a lesbian relationship
- P: stands for the Chinese Pinyin po, or the female role in a lesbian relationship
- 419: used to indicate a one night stand
- MB: money boy, normally known as male prostitute
- Uncle: a respectful title for older tomboy

It is worth noting that Beijing Review is owned by the state-owned China Publishing Group, and is under the direct control of the State Council Information Office, for which it has been publishing propaganda since 1958.

The message from the government is quite clear: be as gay as you want, just don't try to organize a large group of people to get together and talk about it too loudly.

UPDATE: More thoughts about this from Beijing or Bust

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