Chinese Contestant Enters Worldwide Gay Pageant
Ng Han Guan/Associated Press
Andrew Muyi, whose official pageant name is Xiaodai Muyi, posed for a portrait in Beijing last month.

Published: February 12, 2010
BEIJING — He is 25, Muslim and comes from a part of China recently known for deadly ethnic rioting. This weekend, he is competing for the title of Worldwide Mr. Gay.

As with all such endeavors in China, the journey has been long and winding.

The Chinese delegate at Worldwide Mr. Gay was supposed to have been the winner of Mr. Gay China, a pageant originally set for Jan. 15 in central Beijing. But at the last minute, the Chinese authorities shut down the show, saying the organizers did not have the right permits.

Nevertheless, 11 people — the three organizers and eight pageant participants — quietly got together in late January and voted to send one of the contestants to Norway. That turned out to be a man from the western region of Xinjiang known publicly only by his nickname, Xiao Dai, or his English name, Andrew. His official pageant name is Xiaodai Muyi, and he landed in Oslo on Tuesday, a day after getting a Norwegian visa.

“After the cancellation, we thought our attempt to educate the Chinese public had failed for now,” Ben Zhang, an organizer of Mr. Gay China, said Friday in a telephone interview. “By sending someone to Oslo, I guess we’re sending out a message to the world that still China is able to send a representative.”

According to the official pageant Web site, the finale takes place on Saturday.

Xiao Dai has been trying to maintain a low profile, and he could not be reached by telephone on Friday. “His schedule is very packed,” Mr. Zhang said.

The English-language edition of The Global Times, a state-run newspaper in China, published a short article on Xiao Dai on Friday, though it misspelled his name. Xiao Dai told the reporter in an earlier interview that he was the team leader of a gay group in Xinjiang, general manager of a local counseling group and chairman of a gay Web site.

“Organizing gay events in Xinjiang is much harder than in Beijing,” he said, according to the newspaper. “Because it is against religion.”

Global Times reported that Xiao Dai is from the largely Muslim Hui ethnic group, which is common in northwest China. Mr. Zhang confirmed that Xiao Dai is known to be Hui. But he has also represented himself at times as Han, the dominant ethnic group in China, Mr. Zhang said.

Ethnicity is a delicate issue in Xinjiang, where Uighurs, the largest Muslim group in the region, coexist uneasily with the Han.

China decriminalized homosexual sex in 1997, but many gay Chinese remain closeted. The authorities have blocked gay events, including several last summer in Shanghai during China’s first Gay Pride celebration.

After the Beijing pageant was canceled, “we were all sort of nervous, edgy and a little scared maybe,” Mr. Zhang said. But despite the irregularities, the organizers of Worldwide Mr. Gay showed enthusiasm for having a delegate from China, he added.

“The headquarters in Oslo was very insistent,” he said.

Because Xiao Dai got his visa only at the last minute, there is no photograph or profile of him on the pageant Web site, as there are for the other contestants. But there is a list of the 30 countries or territories that have sent delegates, and China is on it.

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