Gov't-backed gay bar re-opens

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, December 21, 2009
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"Gay men sometimes cannot find a proper place to exchange thoughts with others. Here in the bar, they can relieve their psychological pressure and educate each other about AIDS knowledge, which can help prevent the spread of AIDS," said the bar manager using an alias, Xiao Tao.

The bar is also open to other customers besides gay men, Zhang said.

"They are welcome here, but we hope they can communicate with gay men in a peaceful way, which is the first step for them to learn about the gay group," he said.

"They will be more tolerant to the group if they get more understanding about them," he said.

A 19-year-old university student in Shanghai, a gay man with an alias Yan Zi, said he has paid close attention to the gay bar for a long time.

"I am very happy to know that the bar finally opens, which shows the government and general public give more understanding to us," he said.

A 24-year-old resident surnamed Yue in southern Guangzhou City, who claimed to have good friends that are gays, said "They make outstanding achievements in work. I do not care about whether they are gay or not. That is their privacy."

Chinese media praised the role of the local government in supporting the establishment of the gay bar, although officials denied the government had directly funded the bar.

Homosexuality is still a sensitive topic in China.

The Dali Municipal Health Bureau allocated 120,000 yuan (17,650 U.S. dollars) to the No. 2 hospital this year for the AIDS prevention, but media had mistaken the money as a special fund for the bar, Li Jun, director bureau, told reporters earlier this month.

"The bar was initiated by Zhang's association," he said.

Meanwhile, the local government had voiced explicit support for the bar.

"The government has no intention of closing the bar. On the contrary, we support its normal operation," said Zhao Hui, a spokesman for the Dali municipal government, when he was asked whether the government was behind the postponement.

According to Zhang, the fund for opening the bar mainly came from the association itself and two international NGOs.

"In addition, some of the money was indeed from the 120,000-yuan AIDS prevention fund from the No. 2 hospital, though not so much," he said.

Xiao Tao said the local health authorities have provided them much assistance in the education of AIDS prevention.

"That will encourage gays, though their own voices and actions, to give the government some suggestions in policy-making related to AIDS prevention," he added.

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