At Pride Exhibit, Shanghai’s LGBT Artists Vie to Be Seen, Not Silenced

The ongoing monthlong exhibition is showcasing the works of 17 emerging LGBT artists and allies.

Many of Yang Yiliang’s works are similar to Chinese folk art: Traditional motifs including flowers and animals are intricately cut from red paper, symbolizing happiness, fortune, and prosperity.

But a closer look may reveal nuances involving same-sex intimacy.

“The red color of paper-cutting represents marriage,” Yang told Sixth Tone, describing his piece, titled “Paper Grooms.” “But for gay men in China, desires for unity and familial acceptance are unrealistic. The paper is symbolic because of its fragility and flimsiness.”

“Paper Grooms” is part of this year’s monthlong Pride Art exhibition in Shanghai, which kicked off Sunday. The exhibition has become an annual event, highlighting the longing for social acceptance, justice, and liberation among sexual and gender minorities.

“I strive to narrate the experiences of Chinese gay men through painting, bringing this often-marginalized community to the fore,” said the 29-year-old artist, who is one of the 17 featured at this year’s event.

Although China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997, acceptance of same-sex couples has progressed at a glacial pace. Legal protections for LGBT people remain rare, and gay conversion therapy is still practiced in some parts of the country.

While LGBT representation has become more visible in recent years despite ongoing challenges, several queer artists at the exhibition told Sixth Tone they often struggle to find platforms to display their work due to pervasive fears and discrimination related to their subjects. Continue to read the full article here


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.