China nixes Mr. Gay pageant

Police shut down the first-ever event just before it started

By Anita Chang
Published January 18, 2010 4:58PM (EST)

China will not send a delegate to the Worldwide Mr. Gay pageant next month, an organizer said Monday, after police blocked an event to choose a Chinese contestant.

Police shut down the first-ever Mr. Gay China pageant just before the event started Friday, but organizers had planned to privately select a candidate from the eight contestants. They have now reversed their decision, so no one from China will compete at the pageant in Oslo, Norway.

"This was a very carefully considered decision," said Ben Zhang, a pageant organizer. "We just cannot send anyone, the organizers and competitors came to this decision together."

Zhang declined to elaborate on the reasons for not sending a delegate.

Worldwide Mr. Gay Executive Producer Tore Aasheim told The Associated Press that he was "saddened and surprised that the Chinese authorities took such steps."

"China once again shows that they don't honor human rights," he said.

Homosexuality remains a sensitive topic in China. Gays are frequently discriminated against and ostracized, and any Chinese national who competes at the Norway pageant would likely be the target of uncomfortable scrutiny, especially after police canceled Mr. Gay China.

Police cited a lack of permits for canceling the pageant at a swanky Beijing club. Chinese authorities frequently cite procedural reasons for closing down gatherings deemed politically sensitive.

The pageant would have featured a fashion show and a host in drag.

Aasheim said that the Mr. Gay China organizers told him that they decided not to participate in the worldwide competition in Oslo next month after Chinese officials threatened to strip any attendees of citizenship.

"If any of the participants travel to Oslo, they won't be allowed to return to China," Aasheim said. "They'd risk losing their citizenship, losing their right to go home. It's a cruel thing to do."

He added that Chinese officials had confiscated the Chinese organizers' passports.

In response, Aasheim said his organization plans to stream the Worldwide Mr. Gay competition in February online and to grant access for free to any Chinese Web sites that want to host the live video feed.


Associated Press writer Ian MacDougall contributed to this report from Oslo.

Anita Chang

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