Chengdu: China’s permissive ‘gay capital’ refusing to fold

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12/30/2020

It’s Saturday night at the HUNK club in Chengdu and men in gold lycra shorts and black boots dance on stage. They wear kimonos, in an apparent tactical compromise with new morality codes creeping into China’s “gay capital”. But across town, young women still lounge on leather sofas drinking beer at a lesbian club, while a nearby bar is hosting an LGBTQ board game night. Far from the administrative glare of Beijing, the cosmopolitan southwestern city, dubbed “Gaydu” by Chinese millennials, has long cherished its reputation as a safe haven for a community that faces stigma and widespread harassment elsewhere in the country. But activists now say the city’s permissive streak is under threat, as the central Communist leadership puts the squeeze on the few bastions of sexual freedom across the country.

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