Test 2

Please select your preferred language.

請選擇你慣用的語言。

请选择你惯用的语言。

English
中文简体
台灣繁體
香港繁體

Login

Remember Me

New to Fridae?

Fridae Mobile

Highlights
Advertisement

More About Us

News & Features

« Newer | Older »
13 Oct 2011

China: Supergay Shanghai Pride Organisers

The third Shanghai Pride will be held from Oct 22 - 29. Jennifer Chang and Lisa Dazols, a couple who left their San Francisco home in June to travel the world for a year in search of “Supergays” who are creating change for the LGBTQ community, speak with Shanghai Pride organisers Dylan Chen, Charlene Liu and Kenneth Tan.

Jennifer Chang and Lisa Dazols are a couple from San Francisco who embarked on a year-long world tour in June in search of gay people who are creating change for the LGBTQ community. Their project, Out and Around: Stories of a Not-So-Straight Journey, is a collection of their conversations with these “Supergays” around the world. Their trip will cover 15 countries across Asia, Africa, and South America, chosen because those are places where the LGBTQ movement is just starting to take shape, and they want to tell the stories of the people there who are leading the charge. Fridae will republish selected interviews on a regular basis. Readers can follow their journey on www.outandaround.com.

There are no rainbow flags on the streets. There are no decorated floats or banner-raising marches. There are no glossy billboards or commercial sponsorships. In fact, there wasn’t even a set date for this year’s Shanghai PRIDE, China’s one and only LGBT festival, until about a month ago.

Top pic: China-born Dylan Chen (left) and Malaysia-born Charlene Liu and Singapore-born Kenneth Tan (pictured with Jenni, bottom pic) were members of a yahoo list-serve made up primarily of ex-pat Shanghai residents who came together in 2009 to organize the first Shanghai PRIDE event. 

Not publicizing dates and locations until a few weeks (and sometimes days) prior to events is part of the organizing strategy since portions of the first festival in 2009 were closed down by the government. Finding venues willing to take the risk of participating is also a problem, and PRIDE organizers are always wary of last-minute cancellations.

With these limitations, how are these organizers managing to pull off a weeklong festival for a city of 25 million people featuring three parties, nightly film screenings, a speakers panel, a sports day, a pub crawl and a pink picnic? Only with Supergay powers! 

Malaysia-born Charlene Liu, China-born Dylan Chen (pictured above), and Singapore-born Kenneth Tan (pictured with Jenni below) were members of a yahoo list-serve made up primarily of ex-pat Shanghai residents who came together in 2009 to organize the first Shanghai PRIDE event. Since then they’ve volunteered countless hours and stretched a shoe-string budget to pull off what other international cities have a year-round full-time staff to do. Charlene says, “When we’re not at our day jobs or sleeping, we’re organizing.” 

During our visit in Shanghai, we got a taste of a day in the life of a PRIDE organizer when we followed Charlene around town one evening. She ran over to Dylan’s house to go through her task list, made phone calls to recruit volunteers, and ensured that the press coverage best reflected the festival. She then swung by one of the gay bars to personally ensure their participation for the pub crawl. Getting home around 1am on a work night, we were in awe of this multilingual motivated team of Supergays. 

While the first festival was created by ex-pats and primarily attended by the ex-pat community, Charlene, Dylan and Kenneth have ensured that going forward, ownership of PRIDE will shift to the local LGBT community. Charlene explains that in the first few years, locals were quite hesitant of participating for fear of repercussions from the government, “but in the last two years we’ve seen everybody participate.” In fact, several local LGBT groups will be hosting their own events for PRIDE this year. 

The yearly festival draws about 3000 participants but reaches many more in both national and international press. Dylan says, “Shanghai Pride tells Chinese people that whether they are in Shanghai or a small town, it is ok to be gay.” The China Daily agreed and called Shanghai PRIDE “an event of profound significance for the country and the world” and “a source of great encouragement to the tens of millions of comrades”.

Jennifer Chang and Lisa Dazols are a couple from San Francisco who are travelling around the world for a year interviewing "supergays" and blogging about them on their website www.outandaround.com. 

Kenneth says, “When we first put together Shanghai Pride, we were aware of the restrictions we would have to work within. We knew that it wasn’t possible to put together a march or protest for instance. We had to be very clear from day one that this is not a demonstration.” Still organizers knew the importance of a Pride event in China. Kenneth says, “China is home to 40-50 million gays and lesbians, home to the world’s largest gay population. We’re only at the start of something very important.”

Kenneth loves this rapidly changing city where he’s lived for eleven years. He says, “I feel fortunate to be a part of this change. There has been a growing consciousness within the gay and lesbian movement. Now various social media channels have developed that make it easier for us to get the word out about what we do. We have several equivalents of facebook and twitter here. Without channels like these it would be very difficult to put together Shanghai pride.”

The festival now aims to be as inclusive as possible to both the LGBT community and straight allies to celebrate. Dylan says, “Shanghai PRIDE helps us to tell straight people that we exist. It’s an opportunity to show them who we are. In China, the biggest issue are dealing with your parents. It’s the small moments that warm my heart. The first year I had a friend who brought his mom to our Pride event. She was willing to come to learn. The second year we had a panel discussion and a lot of parents came as well. I hope one day my mom can support me like that.”

China » Shanghai

Reader's Comments

1. 2011-10-13 20:27  
Pathetic
Why is there this need to have a parade like they do in the USA or the west ??

This is Asia and we ought to have our own way to express and not follow some cliche and shameless parades that usually end in some sex orgy.

Rise up Asia and not ape the West and they ways !
2. 2011-10-13 21:21  
@1...if you read the article you will see that there is no parade, as demonstrations are not allowed in China.
3. 2011-10-13 21:44  
oh dear, madeasia- sour grapes?
you are expressing yourself as you wish, nobody stopping you, so why take offence when none is directed at you?
Anybody holding a gun to your forcing you into a ''shameless parade'' that ends up in a ''sex orgy''? I don't think so.
What people choose to do in their free time, provided it's consensual and doesn't cause you any harm really isn't any of your business.
Evidently what you assume is far from the truth, clearly you've never been to any pride events at all, obviously your perspective would change if you went to one.
Our minds are like parachutes- they only work when they are open.
Or maybe we could take the example of Iran, a country which claims to have no homosexuals- those that get discovered are silenced or executed.
4. 2011-10-13 22:06  
Best wishes. Do as you like Shanghai, you know best.

Comment: I am really appalled/sickened by the "racist" comments often now posted on Fridae, such as in number one comment, last sentence.

"Rise up Asia and not ape the West and they ways !"

do we really need to add "inter gay-lesbian" racism now to the world wide struggle for civil rights and equality?

Or in other comments, do we want Fridae to censor articles too?
5. 2011-10-13 22:16  
Dear MichaelAsia-
I agree with you, the last sentence in comment 1 reveals that it was expressed without thinking, merely projecting self hatred, denial, and lack of self acceptance onto others, somewhat irresponsible, quite sad.
No Hell more agonising than an undisciplined mind, no Heaven more pure or serene than a disciplined mind.
Call it racism, homophobia, heterophobia, sexism, misogyny, misanthropy, all comes from the same source- IGNORANCE.
Unnecessary to ''fight fire with fire'', as an eye for an eye will leave the world blind.
Always better to investigate further, go beyond our assumptions, the discoveries we make can only be described as liberating as well as Enlightening, my work is teaching, so I try my best to inspire this in my students, fills me with joy to see the ''light switched on'' instead of them bemoaning the darkness.
Don't be frightened- GET ENLIGHTENED!
May everyone be free from all suffering and its causes - IGNORANCE
May everyone have Happiness and its causes- WISDOM
Comment #6 was deleted by its author on 2011-10-13 22:43
7. 2011-10-13 22:54  
Errrmmmm....stop those personal attacks .

And get real with all the "isms" ...solve the problems in your own countries.

Iran ...the latest buzz words from the " international community " ..I suppose you all want to bomb it ...and make it like " democratic" Iraq !

Stop preaching your values and your ways ...solve your own problems in your own country .Asia know what it's own destiny without pride marches....

As if Bangkok need pride marches !!!...more likely it's by self serving organizers at the behest and instigation of western do gooders

Leave your own values at home
8. 2011-10-13 23:10  
@ madeasia, u r just such a pathetic brainwashed person... and yep sour grape affected u.
u r just feared and afraid been told by others that u r gay, and i suppose u r a homo-phobic gay, that all.

besides, what is wrong about admitting urself?

u have no guts and no proud to tell the people around u that "i am gay", the only thing u can do is to hide under ur thick cocoon, and once a while reach out ur tiny tentacle through the internet, hoping to find someone or many "ones".

Yes, YOU r GAY. Please ADMIT it. Tkx.
同为中国人,我为你感到。。。。
9. 2011-10-13 23:42  
Of course I am gay !
Never been ashamed or otherwise but I don't need to parade myself for anyone !

Read my post carefully ...I am not anti gay ...I just don't like the western approach to it and the way they want to impose their values !
10. 2011-10-14 00:25  
We do read your posts madeasia..you dont read the article (there is no parade)....no one is imposing anything on you or anyone (dont go! Do as you wish! Why dont YOU organise an event? And its not in Bangkok, its in Shanghai...try READING)

And if your precious "ways" are so wonderfull...why does the government crack down on gays so much that you are afraid to post a picture so people can identify you?
11. 2011-10-14 01:19  
PEACE BE WITH YOU ALL!
Comment #12 was deleted by its author on 2011-10-14 05:08
Comment #13 was deleted by its author on 2011-10-14 05:15
Comment #14 was deleted by its author on 2011-10-14 07:12
15. 2011-10-14 07:12  
Congrats to Jen & Lisa for having embarked on a round-the-world (rtw) trip that incorporates LGBT activism. It is not just fun for yourselves but meaningful to the LGBT community. Your idea is inspirational. I'd love to do the same before I hit age 40. Life is short.

I think it's a good idea for those who can afford it to take a year off once every few years to do things they love which incorporates LGBT activism. It may be traveling rtw like what Jen & Lisa are doing while interviewing gay activists, taking up a sponsored residency to do creative writing that relates to LGBT issues, or studying a qualification that enables one to carry out LGBT activism more effectively. Beside Continuous Activists (CA) like those serving Oogachaga & PT Foundation and Recurrent Activists (RA) like those serving Pinkdot, contributions by Occasional Activists (OA) like Jen & Lisa should be encouraged.

If we allocate a part of our regular savings to a "Year Off Fund" (YOF) for this purpose, it should be achievable for many who work in developed Asian jurisdictions like HK, S'pore & Taiwan, and prosperous Asian cities like Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, to take a year off. Given the geographical vastness of many Asian countries like India, China, Malaysia and Thailand, an OA there may not even need to travel overseas to serve optimally during his Year Off. It is perhaps more affordable & convenient, and less intimidating, for him to travel to a less developed part of his country where LGBT support & activism are lacking. He wouldn't need to get a VISA or communicate in a foreign language if he travels within his country.

Taking a month or fortnight off each year may be more achievable for most, though. Month-Off or Fortnight-Off OAs can play very important roles in developing Asia. For example, in Malaysia, outside Kuala Lumpur (KL), support centers and events for the LGBT community are rare. The PT Foundation only has a branch in KL, even though the majority of the Malaysian LGBT community live elsewhere. Perhaps, the PT Foundation could mobilise a group of KL-trained RA's and OA’s to conduct anonymous HIV screening & collect donation across the country every December to commemorate the World AIDS Day? Such programmes could be month-long or fortnight-long, and occasional or recurrent, depending on the level of commitment that Malaysian RA's and OA’s can offer. For example, to take a fortnight off for this purpose, a Malaysian OA or RA would need to clear ten days of his Annual Leave in a row.

OAs' and RA's are particularly valuable to the LGBT community in countries like Malaysia, China, India, Thailand, etc. where LGBT services are generally geographically concentrated in the big cities (e.g. KL, Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok) due to financial constraints. To deliver services like HIV screening and workshops to the mass, RA's and OA’s residing in the cities where volunteer-training is most accessible can be mobilized to station in the small towns over a period of 2 to 4 weeks (e.g. starting from 01 Dec, the World AIDS Day). Similarly, activists who wish to start or run support centers in small towns could take a fortnight or month off to attend training in the big cities.

Once again, I thank Jen and Lisa for your activism and wish you an enjoyable year off.
Comment edited on 2011-10-14 07:40:56
16. 2011-10-14 07:37  
Of course it's in shanghai , of course there is no march in shanghai but I am talking about this general trend of having such marches here and there ...or silly events like the gays kissing in Beijing with the BBC tv cameras and western press force in tow ....

And don't go on and on with the government crackdown cliche ...either

I don't post my picture ?? And you immediately assume That ? Maybe just maybe I am not as stunningly gorgeous as you ? How's that ?

Stop imposing , solve the problems at your home first !

17. 2011-10-14 08:28  
This is so phenomenal! :) Thank you to Chang and Dazols for sharing this journey with us.

Am really excited about the Supergay project, especially because it will be featuring "places where the LGBTQ movement is just starting to take shape, and they want to tell the stories of the people there who are leading the charge."

Re: madeasia's comments,
While I empathise with the need for local manifestations of LGBT organisation, I don't see how your criticism is relevant in the context either of Shanghai Pride, or of Chang and Dazol's "Supergay" project.

According to this article anyway, Shanghai Pride is being organised by local Shanghainese LGBT organisations. It's also pretty patronising to assume that PRIDE is strictly "Western" just because it may have originated in the "West." That's like saying Buddhism is strictly Indian, or Christianity is strictly Middle-Eastern (or Greek), or that wearing blue jeans is American. We live in an era where information travel between industrialised countries means that no one concept or project can be strictly tied down to its originator cultures. Shanghai PRIDE would be an adaptation, for sure, but it makes it no less Shanghainese.

That said, I disagree with MichaelAsia's #4 suggestion that madeasia is being "racist" by expressing his wariness of adopting so-called "Western" models of activism within Asia. The reality is that many "Western" nation states continue to be culturally dominant in exporting civil rights / human rights ideologies around the world, while often maintaining levels of nauseating hypocrisy in response to their own internal human rights issues. Thus, any parochial Asian reactions to this, such as madeasia's responses, no matter how misguided, can hardly be called 'racist' before we fully understand the why there may be discontent to begin with. The playing field is NOT level.

I reiterate that I disagree with madeasia's views about pride events in Asia being culturally inappropriate. I very much support people's right to self-determination, and to organise LGBT events in ways that we feel may best suit our local cultural temperaments. PRIDE may be one legitimate outcome of this... and frankly, I doubt that it is the only one anyway!

The local and the global need not be in conflict... Information flow, mass inter-national migration, shared ideas, etc... "Asian" and "Western" are fast becoming outmoded terms.

So happy that this work is going on around Shanghai!
Comment edited on 2011-10-14 08:33:29
18. 2011-10-14 08:35  
#16 is just our resident troll, pay no attention.
19. 2011-10-14 09:11  
Different strokes for different folks. The effort by Jen and Lisa is commendable, though. To me, they're helping to inject a dose of much needed self-respect/self-esteem into the gay community globally. Now, that, to me, is a good thing.
20. 2011-10-14 09:32  
Oh no oh no down to name calling are we ? TYPICAL @#18s comments.
21. 2011-10-14 09:45  
[Editor: This paragraph has been deleted for containing personal attacks on other commenters.]

Where have all the cool, good looking guys gone? No one cool is here anymore, and Fridae is like fake profile central. So fucking down in the dumps and pathetic, I guess its all the bad creepy karma from managing shitty gay saunas coming back to haunt this web site and looking for the other 99.9 missing meth.

The party last week at Avalon was great fun and its good gay culture is being reivigorated instead of having to listen to weak, whiny creatures on Fridae. Being gay is great and joyous!

Shanghai can do whatever the fuck they want and I am glad they take their own path and explore what works for them. No advice is needed cause people in Shanghai smile at Craft and D2 cool clubs much more than in Singapore gay bars. Even Kenneth Tan looks happier in Shanghai. Thank God for fun at Avalon, cause Singaporeans are so tired of getting ripped off by the pirate gay activists taking our money and blah blah blan politics. Hurray Shanghai!
Comment edited on 2011-10-14 13:57:36
22. 2011-10-14 09:51  
Whether big or small, I think this is a great initiative for the LGBT community in SH. Not sure if I can join this year since I'm still waiting for my visa, but if I'm still in SH next year, would love to volunteer!
23. 2011-10-14 10:03  
I hope that Fridae will publish more of Jen's & Lisa's reports on other supergays whom they encounter.

Meanwhile, let's hope that the Shanghai Pride will be successfully launched. It's good to test the water so as to get an idea of the out of bounds (OB) markers in China. Asian activists should adapt to the local socio-legal environment, carrying out activism at an appropriate pace, and through legally and politically tolerable activities.

An appropriate theme is vital to a pride's success. Parading in the streets, dressed up in strange attire, and displaying recalcitrant slogans, etc. may not work in most parts of Asia where such behaviour could be easily dismissed as antisociality and dogmatized as Western ills. While the intended message (i.e. diversity tolerance) of prides in the West is noble, their externality may obscure the mission. In an earlier Fridae report (http://www.fridae.asia/newsfeatures/printable.php?articleid=2217), a prominent Thai gay activist had slammed a pride in Chiang Mai which he thought could encourage youngsters to become transgenders. Although I disagree with some of his points, I do opine that, in Asia, we could adopt a different externality which fits better into our own cultural and socio-legal environment.

One good example of Asia-fitting externality is Pinkdot. The event is a non-political, orderly gathering of LGBT people and our family and friends in a park. The core theme is to promote the Freedom to LOVE, a universally celebrated virtue. There is no mention of ideas like gay circuit parties, sex change, protest, gay marriage, censorship of religious teachings and the abstract concept of “gay rights”, that are threatening to the conservative majority or the government of the day, whether the underlying motivation is justified. Such socially acceptable externality and theme are a creative middle ground that befits the socio-legal environment in Singapore, unlike, for example, more controversial events like gay circuit parties and above-described parades.

With this, I wish the Shanghai Pride's organizers every success in finding a creative middle ground like Pinkdot's did, and that you will persevere and overcome every obstacle in your challenging environment.


Comment edited on 2011-10-14 10:13:15
24. 2011-10-14 12:07  
madeasia...racist pigs come in all colors and ethnicities. Such as you. And since your so sincere in your disgust of all things western, why dont you live as you say? Stop using all western things, use only what is native to China. Computers...internet...cars....planes..trains....internal cumbustion engines...electricity...concrete..phones...credit cards...GPS... oh such nasty western inventions! Please dont pollute your precious self with such things. Do not "ape" the evil western ways!!!! Please stay on horse and human drawn carriage, so you can stay pure and clean of western influence. But hey...thanks for the gunpowder! Where would the western devils be without Chinese invention of gunpowder? Fab. And spagetti! Its yummy. Thanks. You are so blessed to live in a problem free place. As are Tibetans. Problem free! Yay
25. 2011-10-14 12:18  
thanks kumabro
26. 2011-10-14 16:21  
madeasia- your hostility is an indication of how much you are suffering, and it only causes you to suffer more.
I teach Kindergarteners- even they can figure this much out by themselves without anyone having to teach them.
I pity you.
27. 2011-10-14 17:28  
Sunthenmoon, that's reassuring and very good to know...maybe you could get PINKDOT to...Share their knowledge in Shang Hai as well....that would be most interesting - ( where is pinkdot ? ). In any case this could complement the existing events by locals ( and there are many thriving ones too !!) (on the other hand the locals may want to keep it low key )...nevertheless pinkdot sounds and can be regarded as a progressive and healthy alternative ...maybe pinkdot can share their concept with the organizers ( of Shang Hai "pride" ) of the above event too !! .....So thumbs up PinkDot Shang Hai !!...

Written by madeasia on his IPAD 2.
Comment edited on 2011-10-14 17:52:18
28. 2011-10-14 21:13  
Let's hope the pride parade goes smoothly.. I've heard of many GLBT events being cancelled at the last minute by authorities in the past.. :S
29. 2011-10-14 23:34  
Pinkdot as an example of "socially acceptable externality and theme are a creative middle ground that befits the socio-legal environment in Singapore"...perhaps you forget the 1st one? When the permit was yanked, participants were threatened with arresst? And only by civil disobiebience of people showing up anyway and risking themselves to be arressted did the "pinkdot" ever get established.And yet...gay sex is still illegal in Singapore.

No minority, anywhere, asia or otherwise, ever gets anything except the heel of the boot by being supplicant.
30. 2011-10-15 00:33  
Edsmale, I don't recall Pink Dot ever had its permit was yanked nor were participants threatened with arrest. I think you might be recalling the first Pink Picnic although they were never given a permit in the first place. They were just told that they/we couldn't have a picnic without a permit.

As for madeasia's suggestion to have Pink Dot in Shanghai, I think that would be an 'imposition' unless the locals decide they want to have one themselves in which case, they can choose to have any kind of pride festival they want.
31. 2011-10-15 07:26  
Hi, #29, nice to hear from you. I've just reached home after clubbing. Pls allow me to explain what I meant.

I said, "socially ACCEPTABLE externality and theme are a creative MIDDLE GROUND that befits the socio-legal environment in Singapore".

The dictionary's definitions of:
1) "ACCEPTABLE" => 'capable of being endured; tolerable; bearable'
2) " MIDDLE GROUND" => 'an intermediate position, area, or recourse between two opposites or EXTREMES'.

By "middle ground" I meant an intermediate position between extreme obedience and extreme disobedience. And, by "acceptable", I meant what is (e.g. some extent of disobedience) tolerable in Singapore (i.e. within the OB markers). Note that I didn't say "socially CONFORMING" or "SERVILITY" (extreme obedience). In short, I did mean to acknowledge that some form of disobedience, as long as it's in an intermediate position, and within the tolerable range, should be attempted. The key is, don't attempt anything that is beyond the OB markers, which do change over time.

Having explained "acceptable" and "middle ground", I guess it should be quite clear that Pinkdot:
a) had an externality and a theme that were socially Acceptable (i.e. been tolerated by the society);
b) was in the Middle Ground (i.e. between the extremes of servility and rebellion).
Comment edited on 2011-10-15 07:45:50
32. 2011-10-15 15:50  
#30...yes I mean pink picnic. Which was the Momma of Pinkdot. They most certainly were threatened with arrest, hence the organizers cancelled, and when people showed up they had plausible deniability. And the government realized that hauling off people having a picnic, including straights with babies, when they were told "cancelled" wouldnt be the best PR. Then the next year, realizing that they would never get approval for picnic in the botanical gardens, pink picnic organizers used the guise of "speakers corner" to hold pinkdot. And once again, the government realized they cant deny use of speakers corner for freedom of speech to pinkdot without deny it to everyone.pink picnic and pinkdot are one and the same.

At least according to the fidae article at the time. I wasnt there, just read about it
33. 2011-10-16 19:33  
Big congrats to Shanghai pride for their continuous hard work & good spirits, and thumbs up to Jennifer and Lisa for their inspiring travel and writing.

I am curious about Shanghai Pride being labeled as 'China’s one and only LGBT festival' because I am aware that Beijing already has 'Pride month' in June every year for the last couple of years now, with lots of events. There are also other festivals that precede Shanghai Pride. Am I missing something? e.g different interpretations of 'pride' or 'festival' or other?
34. 2011-10-17 01:34  
I lurrrrrrrrrrrrve the title, "SUPERGAY Shanghai" ;)
35. 2011-10-18 18:19  
Wow! I love the idea of travelling the world visiting "supergays", I hope that Jenny & Lisa can really make a difference getting the stories of LGBT struggles out to the wider world.

I feel encouraged by the last paragraph, where parents were invited to come to discussions; I don't know how many parents took that up, or what they came away with, but it sounds positive, nonetheless.

madeasia has a point, each culture should portray its own celebration of homosexuality. It does seem most cultures seem like making a lot of noise, dressing up, eating and drinking, not sure about the orgy at the end, I seem to keep missing that somehow ;)

I really love the concept of the picnic in the park, I have been to similar events in the UK and Germany, it is a good way to meet new people and to show straight people that we're not two headed freaks, obsessed with sex.
36. 2011-10-20 00:41  
#17(nenihs84) Thank you for your balance and objective comments.
#23(sunthenmoon) You can write Jenni and Lisa on their website and ask to be on their mailing list. They also posted videos of their interviews.

Please log in to use this feature.

Select News Edition

Featured Profiles

Now ALL members can view unlimited profiles!

Languages

View this page in a different language:

Like Us on Facebook

Partners

 ILGA Asia - Fridae partner for LGBT rights in Asia IGLHRC - Fridae Partner for LGBT rights in Asia

Advertisement