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China’s First Gay Male Pageant Isn’t (Only) About the Swimwear Competition

Pageants, of the beauty variety, are becoming less and less relevant in America. Were it not for Carrie Prejean answering a question a certain way, and the Twitter crowd picking it up and memeing it, none of us would even know who won the Miss USA pageant. (Actually, without Wikipedia, we would’ve already forgot.) Gay pageants are even less capable of drawing attention, mostly because their intended audience (the queers) is smaller, but also because we’re arguably an even more apathetic group. The only reason some of you know there’s such a thing as “Mr. Gay UK” is because one of its former winners, Anthony Morley, was found guilty of murder (and eating his ex-boyfriend’s flesh). But in China, where the gay community operates in a state of flux, somewhere between acceptance and stigmatization, a gay pageant is actually making news. Particularly because it’s believed to be the nation’s first.

Even the Chinese state-controlled media is writing favorably about the Mr. Gay China pageant, where eight contestants will compete in typical swimwear and talent competitions. It’s a big deal in a hugely populous country, where the first-ever gay pride parade in Shanghai was a tangible mile marker in China’s gay rights struggle.

This pageant, then, is as much about crowning someone Mr. Gay China as it is about normalizing the image of gay Chinese men there. And abroad? It’s about reminding everyone that, damn, these guys are sexy.

(Video via Guardian)