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Band flies rainbow flag at Chinese music festival

Headlining band wave rainbow flag at Shanghai's Strawberry festival, play song in tribute to gay Hong Kong singer Leslie Cheung
Top Floor Circus unfurl a rainbow banner at Strawberry music festival in Shanghai

At the first night of Strawberry music festival in Shanghai on Sunday, headlining act Top Floor Circus made a bold declaration for gay rights, unfurling a giant rainbow flag on stage.

When the band returned to the Love Stage for an encore, they performed a song by Leslie Cheung, the popular Hong Kong actor and singer and one of the first openly gay Chinese celebrities, who committed suicide nine years ago.

Top Floor Circus vocalist Lu Chen said: 'There is diversity in love. I hope you all love your real selves'.

Guitarist Mei Er then gestured to members of Nvai, a Shanghai lesbian group, who were in the crowd, to pass him their huge one-metre by two-metre rainbow flag. Mei then lifted it defiantly to the audience, who screamed in a appreciation.

This heart-warming moment, the first time a big band in China has made such an absolute statement in support of same-sex love, was germinated before the gig when Top Floor Circus posted on the Weibo account that their set at Strawberry Festival would be 'dedicated to all kinds of love: gay, straight, bisexual'. Because of that, rainbow flags were decorated throughout the crowd and Nvai did well selling them for 10RMB ($1.59, €1.20) each.

Editor of Time Out Shanghai, Jake Newby, who has written about rock music in the city for over five years and was at the gig said: 'It's pretty rare for a mainland band to take such a public stance in support of LGBT rights - plenty of pop stars might say generic things about "love for all", but few make such an explicit statement in the way that they did.'

Newby points out that the band's stance is even more bold considering they were banned from performing live in Shanghai for a year for writing a tongue-in-cheek anti-Shanghai Expo 2010 song, Shanghai Welcomes You.

'The younger generation are more open about expressing support for gay rights,' said Summer Wu, a student and volunteer for Nvai.

Watch Top Floor Circus's performance at Strawberry festival (the rainbow flag appears from 2.30 minutes in):

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