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Sir Ian McKellen Sends Powerful Message To The Chinese LGBTQ Community

Posted on June 23, 2016 in Cake, Cake News, LGBTQ

By Cake Staff: 

Any announcement from Gandalf is an important announcement, and this one was sent across to the organizers and attendees of the ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival (ShPFF).

Speaking from London, veteran actor Sir Ian McKellen addressed the LGBTQ community in China which has had a long history of struggle. The lack of medical and mental health support for LGBTQ people, coupled with an atmosphere of institutionalized homophobia has, as in so many other countries, made it difficult to live a life of dignity and opportunity. Even legislative changes, such as the 2014 ban on conversion therapy, could only do so much. Today, a queer university student has to take on the ministry of Higher Education, as they have allowed homophobic content to be published in a psychology textbook.

An alumna of St Catharine’s College (which, incidentally, made its uniforms policy gender fluid last year) McKellen today enjoys many privileges as an openly gay man, but remembers a time when there were precious few even in his own country. The actor came out at the height of the AIDS scare in the West, and founded Stonewall UK. His most important advice to the LGBTQ community in China was to keep fighting the good fight. The recent statement on Orlando by 190 Chinese LGBTQ organizations seems to be evidence of exactly that. And the ShPFF is an equally important assertion of queer identities.

The first ShanghaiPRIDE in 2009 was broken up by government officials, but ended on a subversive note, with four same-sex marriages at a time when it was illegal. This year, the festival has a special focus on trans, non-binary and agender identities, all of which have had to fight tooth and nail for recognition and respect not just in the world, but inside ‘queer’ spaces as well. Conceptualized primarily as a film festival, screenings from various countries are on the menu, including one from China’s neighbor to the south – India.

Spread over multiple venues, the festival ends on 13th July, and the full schedule is available here.