Gay Pride Parade 2008
Kenneth Cheung thinks Hong Kong is ready. “Basically, out of Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and the rest of Asia – excluding the Mainland – Hong Kong is the last place to have a gay pride parade,” says Cheung, founder of gay pride group Rainbow of Hong Kong, and one of the organisers for the Hong Kong Pride Parade 2008.
“Pride is about being gay and proud. [It] requires an open society to walk out and be proud of being gay,” says Cheung, who sees the delay as a representation of the time needed for Hongkongers to accept LGBT culture.
Pride awareness exploded onto the scene in 1969 when the Stonewall riots, a LGBT protest in New York City, ignited what was considered to be the first modern gay rights movement. That event alone spawned annual marches in the US such as Gay Liberation Day and Gay Freedom Day, both of which were replaced in the 1980s with the name Gay Pride. However, it wasn’t until the past few years that they have successfully spread to Asia.
Around the world, pride parades are marked by streets filled with rainbow flags, floats, drag queens, and couples in celebration. “I don’t think Hong Kong has ever seen anything like this,” says Cheung. “We’re going to have at least ten motorbikes decorated as floats, and they will lead the parade. There will be lots of rainbows. We have a flag the size of a double-decker bus!”
If you’re thinking Hong Kong has already hosted a parade, you might be confusing Rainbow’s gay pride march with IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia). A protest against discrimination, which teaches people homosexuality is not a mental illness, took place on May 17. The estimated 600-strong turnout for the fourth annual IDAHO march indicates the community is finally ready for its own pride parade, and organisers are hoping for about 1,000 participants, 200 of whom will fly in from neighbouring regions.
Aside from Rainbow, the Hong Kong Pride 2008 Committee consists of members from the Women’s Coalition of HKSAR, male sex worker NGO Midnight Blue, and the Hong Kong Federation of Students Social Movement Resource Centre, with extra aid from Les Peches, Fruits In Suits, and more. The march starts from Causeway Bay and likely ends in Central. Though the ultimate destination is yet to be determined, at least we now know that gay pride in Hong Kong is headed down the right road.
Tina Lee. Additional reporting by Bourree Lam.
Saturday 13, 2pm-9pm Start point East Point Rd, Causeway Bay. See: www.rainbowhk.org