Mr Gay China Beauty Pageant Closed

The press releases sounded promising: “The Mr Gay China competition is much more than a beauty contest. While physical beauty will be part of the judges’ considerations, it is a young man’s character and personality that will make a difference in the selection."

The winner will be chosen by the audience at the event, whom they believe will be the best representative of gay China, among the final three candidates who are selected by the judges

Although homosexuality was officially considered a mental illness until as recently as 2001, gay events in China have been neutrally, if not positively, covered by local media in recent years.

Co-organiser and Managing Director Ben Zhang was recently quoted in media reports as saying that mainstream media will not be invited to the pageant as he is concerned that overexposure might result in “unnecessary difficulties.

And then:

BEIJING -- Police shut down what would have been China's first-ever gay pageant on Friday an hour before it was set to begin, highlighting the enduring sensitivity surrounding homosexuality and the struggle by gays to find mainstream acceptance.

Organizers said they were not surprised when eight police officers turned up at the upscale club in central Beijing where the pageant, featuring a fashion show and a host in drag, was set to take place.

"They said the content, meaning homosexuality, there's nothing wrong with that, but you did not do things according to procedures," Ben Zhang said. Police told him he needed official approval for events that included performances, in this case a stage show.

"I kind of saw that coming," Zhang said.

Chinese police frequently cite procedural reasons for closing down gatherings that are deemed to be politically sensitive. Though the pageant did not have any overt political agenda, similar events in the past - such as a parade during the Shanghai Pride Festival last year - have been blocked by authorities.

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