New Beijing, New Marriage: A Milestone Film in China’s LGBTQ Movement

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Feb 14 2009

Location: 

Beijing China

New Beijing, New Marriage is a documentary shot by Fan Popo, a Chinese gay rights activist in 2009. The film recorded that a gay couple and a lesbian couple, who were volunteers instead of real homosexual couples, were having their wedding photos taken at Qianmen Street on Valentine’s Day. Qianmen Street is a crowded and famous shopping street in Beijing.

When these two couples stroke poses at Qianmen Street, they attracted a large amount of local residents and tourists. The passengers stopped and watched curiously at same-sex couples’ showing mutual affection in public. The film also captured reactions and opinions of spectators. Some were appreciative of these couples’ courage, but some objected same-sexual marriage strongly, which mirrored polarized public opinions towards LGBTQ issue in China.

In China, positive media depictions of LGBTQ characters are against the law, which means a film like "Brokeback Mountain" would never be screened legally in China. Chinese government has a complex security apparatus designed to censor any content that could be considered subversive, a term that applies to LGBTQ people, their leaders, and their movement for equality. However, New Beijing New Marriage not only won attentions of public, but also several local media coverage. The documentary consequently becomes an important milestone in the history of China’s LGBTQ movement.

With regard to Fan, the director, he has already pronounced himself “out”. Born in 1985 and graduated from Beijing Film Academy, Fan has created several documentaries that advocated for LGBTQ rights in China, including The Chinese Closet, which tells young people's stories of coming out to their parents, and Only Love, which examines the lives of transgender people in southern China. Being a member of new generation of Chinese activists, Fan uses social media and word-of-mouth rallying to broadcast his works widely but underground, because of ongoing censorship and other obstacles from police and government officials.

Posted by Grace Xia on