For the first time ever, Chinese censors are allowing the release of a film centered around a gay relationship. The film, Seek McCartney, is about two gay men who are in a secret cross-cultural courtship. The fate of the film had been in limbo for more than a year, until earlier this week when director of the film, Wang Chao, finally announced that Chinese movie regulators had approved its release. Of the decision, Chao said, “This is a small step for the film department, and a big step for the members of the film industry. It was not easy, but it was delightful.”
Although Chao and many others are optimistic about what this decision means for the Chinese LGBTQ population, others are not so confident. Beijing native Fan Popo, who is an LGBTQ filmmaker and activist, expressed less enthusiasm for the film’s potential impact on future gay media releases. “The fact that this film can be released in theaters doesn’t mean gay films in the future will be able to be released in China,” said Popo. “China’s system for evaluating films is still very unstable, because the rules are very unclear. It depends heavily on the individual censor’s whims.”
The road to acceptance for the Chinese LGBTQ population has been a long one, as homosexuality was not decriminalized in China until 1997, and in 2001 it was finally taken off of the country’s index of mental illnesses. However, the approval of Seek McCartney and the potential for other LGBTQ themed productions to be approved is still a small, yet important milestone for both the citizens of China and the film industry.
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