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China Hosts First Gay Beauty Pageant

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For the first time in the nation's history, China will host a gay beauty pageant, more a sign than ever of change in the notoriously rigid Communist country.

Russian new source RIA Novosti reports that the Mr. Gay China pageant will be held unofficially in a Beijing club to prevent government censorship. This marks a change in the recognition of China's LGBT population; in 2001 homosexuality was removed from an official list of mental diseases.

Although homosexuality in China has been decriminalized and violence against gays is rare, there is all but a complete lack of laws protecting gays from discrimination in a nation where negative stereotypes run rampant. Acceptance of gays by the Chinese government is inconsistent, to say the least. Organizers have seen their events shut down while other activists have found their websites blocked by government censors.

Gay films and television events are regularly banned in mainland China and deemed "inappropriate," such as blockbuster Brokeback Mountain. Organizers with Beijing's only gay-oriented PR and events firm, Gayographic, say they aim to reach out to China's young people in particular. Managing director Ben Zhang tells The Guardian, "If this gets seen by some country boy in Ningxia, maybe he will realize 'it's not horrible to be gay and I'm not alone.'"

The Mr. Gay China pageant winner will be picked based on his ability to represent gay concerns as well as his appearance and will represent China at the Mr. Gay World pageant in Norway.

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