Charlene: There are very few hassles. They always come around and ask basic questions like who we are, what are we doing. We’re straight with them. We tell them exactly what we’re planning and the venues where we’re doing it, and so far they’ve been OK. They just want to know. They don’t say, “OK this is allowed,” they don’t say it’s not allowed, they just take note and then leave.
The thing is, we’re not a political group, we are not activists, we just want to show people that there is an LGBT community, that we’re normal people, we have jobs, we go to school, we fall in love and we can be happy. That’s why this year our slogan is: “Don’t Change, Don’t Hide, Be Proud.”
Charlene: In general, yes. I think it’s more tolerant than in my own country, Malaysia, or even Singapore, where I used to live. People don’t criticize or give you a hard time for being part of the LGBT community. They think it’s none of their business unless a member of their own family comes out as gay. Then it might be different.
Charlene: [Howls of laughter.] I don’t think so. First, Pride doesn’t have to be a parade, it’s just a celebration and you can celebrate anywhere, with friends, indoors, by the pool. Pride is just about being proud, whoever and wherever you are. For a parade to happen, a whole lot of other things would have to happen first.
All we really want to do is show non-LGTB community that we exist and that we’re normal too, we’re just human beings. Same thing for those who are thinking of coming out but are apprehensive. We want to show them how happy we are and how it’s possible to live a happy, openly gay life.
This year’s panel discussion focuses on this topic. There will be parents from China and the US sharing experiences of their kids coming out, and there will be a film related to that. In Chinese and English. Ultimately, it’s all about focusing on positivity, showing the positive experiences people have had with coming out and being proud of their sexuality.
Charlene: This time of year is just more fun, the weather is warmer and people want to come out and go for a swim or have a picnic, and we wanted to include those activities. Everywhere else in the world, Pride is in June. We want to be part of that. It’s a celebration feeling when it’s in early summer, and everything gets more colorful.
Charlene: It’s for everyone. We want to invite our straight friends and family as well as the LGBT community. People who are still hesitant about their sexual orientation, families -- we welcome everyone. Cinco de Mayo isn’t just for Mexicans. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just for the Irish, everyone celebrates those occasions, so why not Shanghai Pride? It’s a yearly event that everyone can celebrate and show they’re proud of who they are.
Charlene: The opening party is going to be big. That’s at Rico Rico. The closing party is at Mi Tierra. We also have the Family Day coming back, that’s at Cotton’s. The Sports Day is swimming, again, like the first year. That’s going to be good. People get competitive. They’re really serious about beating each other in the sports day. It’s great to watch.
Charlene: We are really excited this year because all the profits will go to the creation of an LGBT center in Shanghai, a space for everyone to gather, to distribute information about gay issues, sexual health, to bring the community together, organize events and just have a meeting place in Shanghai. We don’t know where it’s going to be yet or how it’s going to work, but that’s the aim of this year’s Pride. Last year we had something similar for a while, but the building was redeveloped and we lost the venue.
We also donate a portion of any profits to the Chi Heng Foundation, which supports children who have Aids, and the Leyi Foundation, which helps sex workers get information and health care. To raise the money, everyone at Pride works for free. Without the support of volunteers and sponsors we couldn't do anything.
Charlene: CHAI Living City Moments, Ice Cream Truck, Rico Rico, Indulge, the French, German, Spanish and Dutch Consulates have given us amazing support, Time Out, City Weekend, Masse, Shanghai Studio, Angel. Greenhouse Corp, who came up with our advertising campaign, they also did an amazing job. And Wasavy fashion, they’re doing all our T-shirts. We’re going to sell them at the July night market Dada.
Charlene: The media knows what’s going on but they want to wait and see what’s worth reporting. We hope this year we’ll have more positive news. In the past it’s been more about the problems we’ve had with the authorities. Life is not about struggles… OK it is partially about struggles, being in the LGBT community, but we want to emphasize that there are so many good things happening and so many good things that can come from coming out, from being open and not hiding.
For the full line up of what’s going on and where, see the ShanghaiPride website. We have most of the Pride events listed along with venues and details here. Below are some highlights:
Free art opening. “Being Oneself – Code of Nude” by Korean painter/photographer, Hoon Choi, 7pm at Chai Living Gallery.
Pink Picnic in Zhongshan Park from 11am-2pm.
The official opening party at Rico Rico. Starts 8pm, 50rmb includes a drink.
Pride Sports Day at the Western Jun Park swimming pool (800 Anyuan Lu near Changshou Lu), 9am-1pm. Free.
Screening of two movies at the Goethe Institute from 6.30pm: My German Boyfriend, a short film about a gay Chinese-Canadian searching Berlin for a boyfriend, and Sascha, about a young immigrant struggling to talk about being gay. Check out other film screenings happening all week here.
Trivia night at Masse, starts 9pm, free.
Girlz Party starting 8pm at Indulge, free.
Pool Party at Mandarin City Pool, starts 10am, 80rmb.
Family Day picnic including BBQ and performances at Cotton’s (Xinhua). Free, 2-10pm.
Closing party at Mi Tierra, 9pm. 50rmb includes one drink.