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In the following, therefore, I would like to reflect on certain qualities of queer social activism in mainland China, by discussing the Beijing Queer Film Festival event in some detail.

These strategies are of particular relevance in China, where authorities regularly but quite unpredictably, censor and crack down on dissenting activities.The referent of Chinese specificity, he suggests, often works to establish China as existing in the past, lagging behind in queer developmental progress, or to place China as exceptional, and categorically outside of, and hence irrelevant to, queer theory.In other words, China is important only insofar as it is positioned as a categorical and negative opposite to a generic ‘west’ and to queer scholarly inquiry.In a globalizing world, it is clear that both positions are problematic, as Liu also argues; while queer life in China is undeniably shaped by local culture and history, there is no denial that foreign impulses inspire and help shape current formations of queer identity, politics, and community.The Beijing Queer Film Festival event, then, serves as a poignant example of this local-regional-global dynamic.

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In April this year, however, organizers had to adjust their plans due to official pressure.The Chinese government has become more edgy in the recent couple of years compared with the early 2000s.(Liao 2009) The Songzhuang film festivals in 20 received little overt harassment from police and national security, despite the continued presence of official intimidation and innumerable requests for information and paperwork in the run-up to the events.This of course drained resources, challenged volunteers’ patience, and perhaps most importantly, necessitated that organizers remained on their toes, ready to deal with any possible intervention from authorities at any time.This is a considerable achievement when seen in context of the persistently difficult socio-political climate for minorities in the country.

While it has often been assumed that queer life is invisible, silenced, and poorly organized in societies like the Chinese, where formal recognition and legal protection remain absent, a rather different and more nuanced perspective emerges when we look more carefully into specific events and their particular context, such as this film festival.However, the organizers met considerable problems as authorities visited the site the day before opening and ordered a cancellation of the exhibition, arguing that this public art show boasted the ‘improper subject of homosexuality’ and ‘pornographic’ exhibits (see, Liao 2009).Organizers negotiated with police until only hours before the scheduled opening, and were finally able to hold the event, albeit with some empty spaces on the wall; the title/artist tags remaining as visible proofs of censorship.In the words of Xu Bin, leader of the Beijing-based (‘lesbian’) group Tongyu (‘Common Language’): It was the triumph of the younger generation of China’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community.It was the triumph of their confidence to claim for proud exisitance [sic], triumph of their courage to insist on doing what they believe to be right!

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