The fourth Shanghai Pride starts on Saturday with an opening party that aims to be even bigger than last year’s bash attended by nearly 700 people.
The party will be followed by a week of art, sports, theatre, films, more parties, Time Out Shanghai sponsored pub quiz, but no parade. Any organized gathering or march is illegal in China.
The first Shanghai Pride was in 2009 and each year more and more local groups are getting involved as the organizers respond to accusations that the festival is created by expatriates for expatriates.
This year’s panel discussion on Friday 22 is organized by local LGBT group Aibai and will air out a topic close to most Chinese gay youth’s hearts - coming out to their parents.
On the panel will be Auntie Ou, who has been adopted as a member of the gay family after befriending gay men her son’s age online and writing a book, All my Gay Children, about their struggles.
Joining Auntie Ou will be two mothers of gay children from PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) China, including Xingxing who lives with her son and his boyfriend, and two people from the US consulate who are hosting the discussion.
‘This year we want to focus on positivity,’ said one of Shanghai Pride’s organisers, Charlene Liu, who is originally from Malaysia but based in Shanghai. ‘Most LGBT coming out stories are about struggles and challenges, but we want to show that there are successful and happy LGBTers out there.’
The discussion will start with a showing of the 2007 US documentary, Anyone and Everyone, in which parents and children across the American melting pot talk about coming out.
Shanghai Pride 2012 has shifted from its usual dates in November to give it more of a summer feel - a pool party and family barbecue will take advantage of that.
The festival is raising money for a dedicated LGBT center in Shanghai, so that advocacy for rights and visibility doesn’t just happen once a year.