In a few months, 25-year-old Meng Yu will represent China in basketball. But there’s a catch: The team hasn’t even had its first practice. Meng, a fundraising consultant for non-profit organizations in the southern city of Shenzhen, is part of China’s largest contingent to ever attend the Gay Games, which will be held in Paris this August. Established in 1982, the weeklong Gay Games are held every four years to celebrate and promote inclusion, with a focus on sexuality and gender. As homophobia and transphobia are pervasive in sports around the world — including in China — the games give participants a chance to compete in athletics without fear of ostracization, bullying, or violence. Around 90 Chinese athletes are expected to attend this year’s Gay Games — significantly more than four years ago, when only one Chinese athlete participated. “Those who can’t come out in China can still be their authentic selves in another place,” Meng, who uses the gender-neutral pronoun “they,” tells Sixth Tone. Meng first heard of the Gay Games last year, when Hong Kong was selected as the host for 2022, becoming the first city in Asia to host the event.
May 21 / Sixth Tone