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ShanghaiPRIDE's Charlene Liu

Jun 8, 2018

My name is Charlene Liu. I was born in Malaysia and have lived in the US and Singapore before moving to Shanghai. In my professional life, I spent almost 20 years working in the semiconductor and electronics industries. That’s what brought me to Shanghai (…that and a messy breakup). Now, I work at a global consulting firm.

When I arrived in Shanghai in 2005, I wanted to stay low key, but that didn’t happen. That’s because I love to hang out and party, and met many friends along the way. Some of them happened to be LGBTQ. This was the time where there weren’t so many restaurants, bars, etc. So we’d meet almost the same people everywhere. Imagine, this was before social media such as WeChat and Weibo, so we used email and SMS to keep in touch. Along the way, some of us decided to create a networking platform on Yahoo Groups called ShanghaiLGBT to keep each other updated about upcoming gatherings through a mailing list.


Very soon we became a welcoming committee for those visiting from out of town. Then in 2009, some friends were leaving Shanghai and we decided to throw a big party, that was how ShangaiPRIDE was created. It was just for one time, but we had many people come up to tell us that they found the event meaningful, they found a support group, or they found their partners through ShanghaiPRIDE – this is exactly my journey as well. Today, ShanghaiPRIDE has become an annual festival and this June, we will be hosting the tenth edition.

My most favorite thing about Shanghai is how everything that is so different can exist together. We have the new high rises next to old lane houses. We have fancy restaurants and roadside stalls. We have the expensive and the cheap. We have people from all over the world. It’s simply colorful! My least favorite aspect… avoiding spit and dog poop while walking on the streets.


A perfect F&B day would include champagne brunch at Kitchen Studios at Andaz Xintiandi, followed by a visit to my own café – The Hub Café for a piccolo latte and a whiskey. Then we would proceed to dinner at Lychee for their beef tartar with red wine. Finally, to wrap up the day, we’ll party at Lucca for a very strong vodka soda.

Whenever I have time or when friends visit, I like to go to the Shanghai History Museum at People’s Square. There is so much history in there. The porcelain section is my all-time favorite. That and walking on The Bund at dusk. The Bund gives me energy and encouragement. I could just go to The Bund, soak in the lights, the history, and landscape and would feel so inspired.

At the moment, I think I’ll live here for a long time. We can’t really say forever and ever, because who knows what God has planned for us. My wife is from here, I love my job, and I love my community work here. Shanghai is my home! I’m really proud that I overcame my limited knowledge of the Chinese language to live here for more than a decade and that we’ve managed to build ShanghaiPRIDE to become a community platform run entirely by volunteers. We have almost 400 volunteers signed up this year.


I'm most looking forward to getting this Pride over and done with…No, but seriously, I'm most looking forward to the Pride10 anniversary gallery opening, which is this evening, 7PM, at the Polar Bear Gallery. We will be displaying all the memorabilia collected since 2009, we searched our archives, hard-drives and boxes, and found all the merchandise we've made since 2009, all the posters and key visuals we have ever produced, and all the photos and videos we have ever taken. It's dedicated to everyone who has every participated in organizing, sponsoring, or even just attending any of the events. In the past few months, we've also collected quotes from past and present volunteers, sponsors, and participants.

This is a true testament of how people from various walks of life come together to support a community. It hasn’t been an easy ride, and we still have a long way to go in creating awareness and promoting diversity and inclusion, but for now we are proud we have come so far.



  • Shanghai History Museum

    • Address
      325 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu
      南京西路325号, 近黄陂南路
    • Phone
      6323 2504

    Built in 1934 as the Shanghai Race Club and known for its iconic bell tower, the most recent two-year renovation of this space gave us one of Shanghai's best museums. It sports 9,800-square-meters (that's 2.42 acres) of exhibition area, with around 1,100 artifacts on... Read more

  • The Hub Cafe

    • Address
      652 Yan'An Xi Lu, near Jiangsu Lu
      延安西路652号, 近江苏路
    • Phone
      156 1848 5592

    Originally located on Fuxing Xi Lu, this is the location it moved to after the Hub's shutdown in 2017. It's a cozy streetfront cafe that serves a stiff espresso martini too run by co-owner Tony,... Read more

  • Andaz (Xintiandi)

    • Address
      88 Songshan Lu, near Taicang Lu
      嵩山路88号1楼, 近太仓路
    • Phone
      2310 1234

    Andaz Shanghai is the first Andaz property in Asia Pacific and the sixth hotel to open under the new Andaz brand operated by Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. Located in Xintiandi, the hotel features 307 spacious guest rooms and suite. Read more

  • This venue has now closed


    • Address
      No. 2, Lane 49 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Wulumuqi Lu
      复兴西路49弄2号, 近乌鲁木齐路
    • Phone
      3461 1377

    What used to be Hunan House is now three floors off Fuxing Xi Lu by Cotton Ding, inspired by the story of lychee-loving classic Chinese beauty, Yang Guifei. From the ground up, the floors are a lychee-inspired bar, restaurant and lounge. It's cozy, it's whimsical, it... Read more

  • Lucca 390

    • Address
      390 Panyu Lu, near Fahuazhen Lu
      番禺路390号, 法华镇路
    • Phone
      5295 6979

    Lucca (formerly known as 390) is smack in the middle of Shanghai’s gayborhood. It's a stone’s throw from Happiness, gay friendly Celia, and Telephone 6, which is just upstairs. You’ll see this place immediately from the mass of gay men spilling out into the Panyu Lu... Read more

  • Polar Bear Gallery

    • Address
      Room 102, Bldg 4B, 50 Moganshan Lu, near Xi Suzhou Lu
      莫干山路50号4B栋102室, 近西苏州路
    • Phone

    Read more

[Shanghai Famous]:

Shanghai Famous is a SmartShanghai column focusing on people out there in the city makin' the scene. They're out there around town, shaping Shanghai into what it is, creating the art, culture, and life around us. We asked them what's good in Shanghai. We asked them what's bad in Shanghai. We asked them to tell us more, more, more about their wonderful selves.

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