It has been a long and difficult journey (that has not yet ended) for the LGBTQ community. The community has made strides in advocacy and has created a rich and diverse culture. Because the U.S. is often seen as the center of queer culture, people often overlook the experiences of LGBTQ people in Eastern countries. Hong Kong’s queer community and culture has been growing especially fast in the past decade.
In Hong Kong, same-sex sexual activity is legal, LGBTQ gatherings and events are hosted around the city, and there is LGBTQ representation in the media. Yet there is still a social stigma that surrounds the community.
It is not a subject that is freely spoken about. Many LGBTQ people hesitate to reveal their sexuality or gender identity to friends and family. University students are often openly ridiculed. Students self-censor their affection with their partners and do not speak up about the subject. However, they find comfort and solidarity in LGBTQ groups on and off campus.
LGBT Protest 2013, photographed by Nathan Tsui
One of the most common aspects of LGBTQ culture is it’s nightlife. A variety of LGBTQ-friendly clubs and bars are centered around the more recreational parts of Hong Kong. Here, queer people can people can feel safe to interact, relax and dance with whomever they want regardless of gender. Clubs aren’t the best places for community building. But it is necessary to give people a place to have fun without scrutiny, surrounded by people who share similar struggles.
If clubs aren’t your speed, you can attend one of the many drag shows in the city. Influenced by western queer culture, drag has become increasingly popular in Hong Kong. Local drag queens say that it has become a more normalized part of nightlife, and the Hong Kong public have become more accepting of it. Drag culture has formed another enclave of acceptance in the LGBTQ community.
"We Are Gay"
Another aspect of LGBTQ culture in Hong Kong is its booming focus on the arts. The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is the longest running LGBTQ film festival in Asia, with 31 years and counting. It is a nonprofit dedicated to screening LGBTQ-related films from local and global filmmakers.
Additionally, the Hong Kong Arts Festival has also featured LGBTQ films. The picture above is from “We Are Gay” written by Candace Chong, one of the films that would have shown this year. Unfortunately all their events were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Sunpride Foundation Exhibition, photographed by Remy Hang
Sunpride is a foundation based in Hong Kong with a focus in promoting and exhibiting LGBTQ art. It hopes that through the expression of LGBTQ experiences, society will become more accepting.
Lastly, Hong Kong’s LGBTQ community has a thriving advocacy culture. Despite Hong Kong’s appearance of conservatism, there are many groups fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community. Two of the more prominent organizations are the Rainbow of Hong Kong and the Pink Alliance. The Rainbow of Hong Kong focuses on providing resources such as STD testing, sex education and peer hotlines for struggling queer people. The Pink Alliance educates the public regarding LGBTQ issues and promotes acceptance through community participation.
Hong Kong’s LGBTQ community has fought hard to gain acceptance from the law and from society. Although Hong Kong queer culture isn’t as loud, due to public scrutiny, it is just as vibrant and present in this beautiful city. It is certainly worth seeking out.