Contestant Simon Wang hears the Mr Gay China contest has been canceled.
Photograph: Dan Chung
Chinese police shut down the country's first gay pageant tonight, just one hour before the event was due to begin.
Participants hoped the contest would help challenge domestic stereotypes about homosexuality, classified as a mental illness until 2001, and show the rest of the world that gay people could be accepted in China. But officers arrived at a Beijing nightclub shortly before the Mr Gay China competition started and told organizers it was not properly licensed. They are understood to have told the venue's owners that it was "a sensitive issue".
"Anyone who's been in China has seen how much the gay community has grown and how people – even the authorities – have become more accepting." -Simon Wang