June is worldwide Pride Month — a global celebration of the LGBTQ+ community. While much of the world needed to tone down their planned Pride activities this year due to Covid-19, Kunming — as well as other cities across China — has been bustling with nearly non-stop Pride events every weekend. Many LGBTQ+ organizations across the city planned creative and dynamic ways to celebrate diversity, while still respecting public health measures. This was the second Pride Month to be organized in Kunming, with an even wider range of activities than in 2019.
Kunming Pride Month activities
The Kunming Pride organization ran a "Boogie Rainbowland" beauty contest throughout the month of June.
Yunnan Parallel focused their efforts on salons, a series of lectures and film screenings that not only centred on LGBTQ+ issues but also feminism and learning to love yourself. On June 7, they hosted the "to find your other self" event as local make-up artist and trans organizer Xiao Cai helped attendees play with their gender expression through make-up.
On June 14 they led a roundtable discussion on the future of same sex marriage in China and on June 20 they came together to discuss loving yourself. They also ventured to Yuxi, where they hosted a sex education class.
Spring Rain sought to bring out the LGBTQ+ community by hosting events that captured a wide range of interests here in Kunming. They kicked off Pride Month on June 6 with a pool party that featured fun games with muscle men, dancers and a DJ. The day after the opening party, they modeled Shanghai Pride's Rainbow Talks by inviting members of the community to share their personal stories about sexuality and gender. The following weekend, everyone went out to Haigeng Park to have fun in the sun with an LGBTQ+ sports day, including a small Olympic style competition.
Other activities included an art salon where guests watched a traditional Chinese incense performance, arranged bouquets and painted T-shirts and a glamorous solar eclipse viewing party. Things got kinky with an S&M show at NoNoBar.
WeForShe organized a two-day online symposium themed Sexual Awakenings, Identities and Orientations. Here, LGBTQ+ voices from different cultural backgrounds were offered the space to share their personal journeys and same-sex experiences in a safe environment.
One weekend saw the Rainbow Environment Campaign, where members of the Kunming LGBTQ+ community went to clean up rubbish at Zhaozong Reservoir, a popular bathing spot in the Western Hills.
Of course, Pride Month would not be complete without fabulous parties, and so the different teams of Kunming Pride once again set out to pair up with local bar owners to host weekly Pride-themed parties a that highlighted the trans and drag communities here in Kunming. The festive month started off with a Pride party and the first installment of the Boogie Rainbowland beauty contest at Vervo Club & Bar.
To end this busy Pride Month, Spring Rain held their showcase gala, where special guests from each of the events performed their best acts from the month. The night was ended in style by everyone joining in a festive sing-a-long and waiving rainbow flags. Another Waikiki beach-themed party ended the Pride Month with a fabulously dressed crowd and a glittery bang.
Throughout the month the "Boogie Rainbowland" beauty contest was held at various locations — the nationwide finale will be held on July 11.
Organization and supporters
We checked with all organizations if they were ok about sharing their contact details, and with the people in the pictures if they agreed to have their photo shared in this article. If you'd like to find out more about LGBTQ+ activities in Kunming please feel free to contact them or follow their official WeChat accounts.
KM Pride: is composed of several public organizations and volunteers, serving the local and international LGBTQ+ community and strengthening ties through cultural exchange activities. WeChat ID THSxiaoheng
Spring Rain: is an HIV testing and education community-based organization. Run and operated by gay men, they provide free STD testing and host monthly LGBT events. Contact: WeChat ID cytx-2014
Trans China: Trans China works for LGBTQ+ community — especially for male-to-female transgender people on health, rights and culture. Contact: WeChat ID kyzgzg
Yunnan Parallel: WeChat ID ynpx087163379065
We4She: WeChat ID weforshe_ws
TongHuaShe (同话舍): WeChat ID THSxiaoheng
Venues and other organizations that supported Kunming Pride 2020: Vervo Club & Bar, Revolucion Cocktail, Tata Club, Kuandu Flower Art, Rainbow Song and Dance Performing Arts Group, Dangsters Dance Studio, B人bel Magazine (WeChat ID pyramidofbabel), EGO brewery, the Yunnan University gender Equality Research Group.
Andrew Thomas Wortham is a PhD student in anthropology at Columbia University. He is currently living in Kunming, doing research on the collaboration of LGBT organizations and HIV prevention. He contributed to this article.
Header image and Rainbow Environment Campaign images: Fabio Nodari
A special thanks goes out to the Pride volunteers who made it all possible.