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4 June 2050

Beijing, China.






My fortune and fame. I suppose those are the things you are most interested in hearing about. I will tell you a bit about how I built up all what I have.

However, this story cannot be told without mentioning the things that happened in Beijing throughout my lifetime.

40 years ago, Beijing was a very polluted place. Every once in a while, smog would settle in unexpectedly and you wouldn’t see a thing around you. You would inhale the dirt that was coming from factories burning coal. This was the setting of Beijing in which, as a young man, I have started discovering my talents and I have put them into good use. I started running many enterprises in the nightlife scene of Beijing and making good money.

It all started by organizing drag show in Beijing. I did the LGBT Center gala years ago. Reaching out to people, attracting them to the events was the easy part, the difficulty was in getting permissions, breaking the norms and preconceptions. It was a difficult time just to be gay in Beijing, let alone demanding to change things. On the other hand, there was big money in the pink business and that helped. In fact, during the times of economic development, anything helping growth was accepted. A factory or a nightclub was always welcome as long as it kept the things moving.

Beijing kept on changing. It was the 20s when the city started opening up parks at various locations in order to get rid of the polluted air by creating ventilation corridors. One after another, large areas were confiscated by the city, demolishing works took place and they turned them into parks. A lot of people had to be relocated on the process, the city had to clean its lungs, yet it worked and the air of the city started moving and we no longer have the smoggy days anymore. Besides, the parks of Beijing are its coolest features today. Go there on a sunny day, you’ll see gays and straight people, from Myanmar to Japan, mixed together and having a good time. They come here to experience the freedom that they could not experience anywhere else in Asia.

At the mean time, I have kept on doing what I do the best and provided events, bars and clubs for LGBT community to enjoy themselves and be present in the city. If all of these are normalized today for our community, it is thanks to continuous fight we had to make in order to make these places reality.

It was not uncommon, to hear hate crimes and discrimination targeting gay people in Beijing. We would wake up into dirt and smoggy days. There was no escape from this mess, we had to inhale it until we have cleaned it.

Today, it is common amongst the people who have been living in Beijing as long as I do and who have inhaled the polluted air for as long as I have done, to have a specific form of lung cancer.



I am no exception. Anyone roughly at my age in Beijing, turns out to have a similar story. We all thought that coal and oil, manufacturing and growth, were things of the old world.
Yet, they were hidden in the most discrete of places: within our lungs.



Marlow Ma

THE BEIJING IN ME


         
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