by Paddy Noble, WSCF AP Human Rights Coordinator
One of the most controversial issues globally is our understanding, concepts and attitudes towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and people of many genders.
From my perspective is that we don’t engage enough in this issue given that even in our so called liberalism we still hold dearly to the fundamental conservatisms that we all grew up with—yes queer people do too! Its hard to break free of these social influences! Nonetheless whilst attending the first Hong Kong Pride Parade (13th December 2008) queer people both Hong Kong and foreign expatriates took part in celebrating what it means to be queer both here in Hong Kong and throughout the world without all the baggage of hatred, prejudices we grew up with.
What struck me was the strong representation of Hong Kong Chinese people and mainland Chinese people who came to show their support and organize such an event. It was predicted that there was over 1000 people who attended give or take a people who came at various times in the day. What was most important for this parade was the fusion of people who might not otherwise come to meet to share their commonality people from AIDS awareness related organizations, sex workers, entertainers and queer friendly people.
This was a first Pride Parade event for Hong Kong Queer People and it was easy to see that it wasn’t going to be the last with a prediction of it growing to a larger scale for next years event. Queer identity throughout Asia and the Pacific can at most times are ambiguous and sometimes misunderstood. I was talking to a friend who invited me to the parade and told him that in the more western countries gender is sometimes seen, as a black and white issue with no in betweens. You are either gay, lesbian or not! Whereas I was reminded that among the Asian and Pacific peoples (especially more so among the indigenous peoples)that gender is a somewhat elusive and ambiguous issue. Nonetheless the commonality was that as long as GLBT peoples were productive in their communities we were given the same respect as others in our society.
Performances by queer sex workers, ethnic groups, lesbian dancers, and drag queens symbolised the diversity of our queer sexual identity. It reminded me too that being gay is not a Monday to Wednesday thing, and that being Christian is not a Thursday to Sunday thing, but rather being gay is an everyday part of my identity alongside that of being Maori, Christian and every other part of what makes me who I am and queer people who they are. Therefore during the Hong Kong Pride Parade we were reminded of who we are and the importance we play in our own societies. Hong Kong was reminded that through its industrial busy, money and time consuming existence queer people too played an integral part of this developing society.
Thanks to Rey my dear Queer Comrade in Arms and the Hong Kong Pride Parade for putting on a wonderful event.