China’s gay community came to Shanghai last week for the country’s first-ever pride festival. The week-long event featured panel discussions, film screenings, play performances, and a large party—but no parade.
The fact that the government allowed the festival without its signature feature, demonstrates its unresolved attitudes on homosexuality: "In today’s China you can be gay, but you can’t be political."
Officials canceled some of Shanghai Pride's events and threatened to call the festival off, but were generally tolerant. LGBT activists work under Beijing’s restrictive yet hands-off policy, sometimes called the “Triple No”—no approval, no disapproval, no promotion.
Organising is tolerated, but the less conspicuous, the better, which is why activists are willing to forgo large celebrations like parades.
Instead, they set up panel discussions on political art and theatre, organised in the relative quiet of social-networking sites.