“Stay in Love”: This year’s Rainbow Market brings together hundreds in support of the LGBTQ+ community

The indoor market bustles with so many people that there is just enough space to rub shoulders and trudge from one stall to the next. 60 booths – they sell everything from trinkets to sex toys. A 50-minute long queue of people at the entrance, waiting to get their hands on the digs. 

Drag queens strut through the venue – photos, so many photos. The rainbow flag looms high. 

This year the annual pride parade was cancelled due to the gathering restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. In its place, there was the Rainbow Market, held on November 13 at The Wave in Kwun Tong. 

“Stay in Love” – The theme of the Rainbow Market 

The theme for this year was “Stay in Love – May we promise to converge and never disperse.”

“Farewell is a type of separation, a source of pain”, the organizers wrote in the Rainbow Market booklet given to the visitors. “Within the LGBTQ+ and gender queer community this pain is rather unavoidable.”

“Perhaps it was the lack of acceptance from families that forced you and your lover to part ways. Perhaps it was the decision to keep true to yourself that led you to part from your family. Sometimes the reason for separation lies within the discrimination of society, resulting in meaningless pain.”

“However, hidden within the separation is a wish to never part ways – a wish to always stay together.”

Inside the market, the atmosphere was exuberant. 

Jason Lau was celebrating. The 21-year old had told his family last year that he was gay. Since then, it has been a journey.  

“They tried to be accepting but I could tell that they were… disappointed? It was hard. But they have become more understanding, they want to be. I even introduced them to my boyfriend last month.”

The Queer Straight Alliance (QSA), Hong Kong’s largest student organization promoting LGBTQ+ rights, also had a stall in the market. The stall sold tote bags and stickers for as cheap as HK$10. Photo: Ananta Agarwal

A special focus this year was also on LGBTQ+ people with disabilities. 

“When we talk about disability, the medical and care aspects of it are often what comes to mind”, wrote the organizers in the booklet. “It is as if apart from surviving, persons with disabilities have no other needs.”

“This is inherently a “desexualization” treatment – it is as if they don’t have gender, and don’t have sexual needs.”

“Therefore, faced with extreme prejudice from family and society, coming out for LGBT+ people with disabilities is even harder than typical LGBT+.”

From trinkets to sex toys: A stall for every need

A stall near the entrance sold water bottles and tote bags. Another wooed customers with handmade rainbow-themed clothing for pets. Further down, stalls selling LGBTQ+ themed T-shirts. However, it was the pleasure and lifestyle stores that attracted people in droves. 

Sally Coco Intimate lifestyle store was one of them. Selling everything from vibrators to vaginal oils that smelled like chocolate, Sally Coco placed the greatest emphasis on sex education and the importance of consent. 

“We try to sell many sex education books for teenagers”, says Frida Zhao at the stall. “We focus a lot on identity and self-acceptance and it is the reason we wanted to contribute to this event.”

In addition to toys and sexual health textbooks, Sally Coco also sells lingerie and other accessories. Photo: Ananta Agarwal
A silicone toy for women that absorbs human body temperature. This is a toy that isn’t “one dimensional” or “goal-oriented” like your vibrator, says Frida. “This is for a person who wants to explore her body, her sexuality, her sensibility.” It forces you to slow down. Photo: Ananta Agarwal

Further down a stall sells cotton candy in every conceivable color. By the end of the day, their stock had diminished to less than a handful of boxes. Their rainbow candy sold out the quickest. 

Another stall sells truly giant sesame seed cookies. “Why not chocolate?” someone asks. But soon enough they scoop up the last few remaining treats. 

Part of the profits from the sale of all products will be given to the organizers of the Market- Gay Harmony, Les Corner Empowerment Association, MadeinGender, Rainbow of Hong Kong, and Association for Transgender Rights.

One stall that has people lined up is Pleasure Point, another intimate lifestyle store but with a much wider array of products. They not only sell toys, but also CBD oil and pheromone perfumes. 

“Anything that gets people to explore and connect with each other, we sell”, says Marco Fung, who works at the stall. “We also spread sexual wellness, knowledge, and sex education.”

Pleasure Point is in the midst of setting up two stores in Hong Kong- one in Central and one in Mong Kok. Discounts and freebies are frequently provided to students. Photo: Ananta Agarwal

Pleasure Point routinely holds workshops to spread their gospel, also collaborating frequently with NGOs to promote sex positivity and health. 

“Our staff all come from different LGBTQ+ backgrounds so this is something we feel strongly about.”

“It’s not every day that you get a market that is specifically for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s only natural for us to be here and give our support.”

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