A film screening scheduled to be held on Wednesday night at Kathleen's 5 was cancelled at the last minute after officials from the Shanghai Administration of Industry and Commerce (SHAIC) visited the venue hours before the event and warned the management that they could face "severe consequences" if the event went ahead. According to the festival spokesperson, the manager was told that the venue did not possess a license to screen films on its premises.
Another film session scheduled for Friday night at Kathleen's 5 has been cancelled.
SHAIC officials on Wednesday also visited Barefoot Studio where The Laramie Project, a play about people’s reactions to the brutal murder of a gay student named Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998, was to be performed on Friday night. The venue’s management was similarly warned of "severe consequences" should it allow the event to go on as it didn’t possess the appropriate license for entertainment.
The spokesperson told Fridae that the several uniformed police officers visited Frangipani on Tuesday night during the Open Mic Literary Hour event but did not disrupt the event in any way.
On Thursday, two other venues A Tale of 4 Cities and Shanghai Studio were visited by the police in the day time. The wine tasting event went on without a hitch but Shanghai Studio, which was to host an 'Open Bar' that night, decided to cancel the event and close for the day.
Other events of the weeklong festival held from Jun 7-14 are expected to go on as planned.
Despite the authorities’ intervention, organisers are optimistic given the festival is the first of its kind in China. The state-run English language newspaper China Daily had covered the festival in detail with a front page story and editorial saying the festival “should be a source of great encouragement to the tens of millions of… homosexual men and women” in the country and has sent the rest of it’s population a “strong signal… about greater acceptance and tolerance.” The festival has however been given the silent treatment in the Chinese-language press.
The festival spokesperson told Fridae: “We've been absolutely overwhelmed and encouraged by China Daily's positive coverage on Shanghai Pride. We understand this is the first time a gay story has made it to the front page of a party mouthpiece and this bodes well for greater acceptance of the LGBT community in Chinese society.”
The weeklong festival will culminate in ‘The Big Bash’ on Sat, Jun 13 @ Cotton’s and ‘Queer Olympiad’ on Sun, Jun 14 @ Xuhui Gym and Swimming Pool.
Related articles in China Daily:
- Gay party starts to lose its sparkle (Jun 12)
- Pride of tolerance (Jun 10)
- Shanghai hosts first gay pride festival (Jun 10)