Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen: Going public: Transnational Pride politics and queer grassroots activism in China
Written by Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen, Senior lecturer at Centre for Gender Research. Published in The Scholar & Feminist Online in october 2017, as part of a special issue titled Thinking Queer Activism Transnationally.
This paper reflects on queer grassroots activism in China, in the context of globally travelling queer and gender theory, politics and culture. In particular, the importance and meaning of public visibility in activist struggles for rights and equality is examined in lieu of China’s unpredictable political and social environment, and with a focus on exploring the creative and tacit strategies that are employed in order to (attempt to) circumvent official censorship.
To illustrate, I draw on three public Pride events that took place in different decades and different cities. Whereas these events are not representative of broader changes in any straightforward way, I suggest that they illustrate shifting articulations of local agencies, transnational connections, and the structural limits posed by political authorities in China, and therefore serve as a counterpoint to scholarly literature and activist discourse taking democratic civil societies as starting point for analysing queer activism and Pride politics.