BEIJING – A popular lesbian dating and live stream video app in China used by millions of people around the world held an awards ceremony in Beijing this weekend to celebrate the success of its service.
LesPark, a social network app with a community of around five million global users and 80,000 live broadcasters, also held the red carpet gala Saturday evening to pay tribute to its top broadcasters.
Thousands of fans, cheering and holding brightly lit placards supporting their favorite presenters, attended the ceremony, which was also broadcast live to more than 200,000 viewers on the app platform.
The LesPark app allows users to connect with each other based on their location, through text, audio messaging and picture sharing.
They can also connect with celebrity presenters, who accumulate thousands of followers by chatting and interacting with their admirers through live video streaming.
Fans can reward their favorite broadcasters with online gifts that can be exchanged for cash.
According to top presenter Xie Xing, also known by her online handle of “Da Shuai” (meaning “big handsome” in Mandarin), some celebrity presenters can earn up to 100,000 yuan (around $15,000) per month.
With her girlfriend of four years, Jiang Xiaodi, the couple have amassed a loyal following of about 2,000 fans and spend about three hours each day on the app chatting to them.
There are an estimated 70 million people who are members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual) community in China, according to the 2016 China LGBT Community Report, which also says that the country is the world’s third-largest LGBT market, valued at $300 billion per year.
Social media apps have boosted the visibility and connectivity of LGBT people in China as the country gradually accepts the community, although same-sex marriage remains illegal.
A 2016 United Nations Development Programme report which surveyed 30,000 LGBT people across China found that just 5 percent were willing to tell family and friends about their sexuality, and that the majority continued to face discrimination and homophobia.
LesPark organizers told epa they were forced to change the location of the award ceremony to a smaller venue due to objections by the original venue over the nature of their event.
Despite this, one of the highlights of the evening came when Xie and Jiang walked on stage to receive the “Best Couple” award.
As the pair, known to their fans as “I’m OK,” accepted the trophy, Xie proposed to her partner, with whom she has a child aged 1.5 years.