It’s Okay To Be Gay: Hong Kong’s largest LGBTQ event, Pink Dot, returns for 2022

The annual Pink Dot event happened on the 23rd of October at the Kowloon Bay International Trade Exhibition Center in Hong Kong. The event was themed “Express Yourself”, and included many activities, including a flea market and free carnival, and concluded with a concert that encompassed many Hong Kong celebrities, including ambassadors Joey Leung and Jay Fung.

Since its founding in 2014, Pink Dot has been one of the largest annual LGBTQ+ events in Hong Kong. In 2020, the event was held virtually due to the pandemic, boasting a total of over 50,000 views. 

The in-person event this year retained this success – Sunday saw KITEC brimming with activity. It hosted 26 community booths and 35 pop-up stores, film screenings, talks, and many live performances. From the beginning to the end of the event, the place was brimming with activity, long lines stretching into crowded spaces, and a fully booked concert before the event’s actual date.

Sponsored booths at Pink Hall and the Rainbow Stage with live performances. Image: Carmen Ho

For many people, witnessing the success of this event was an extremely liberating experience, as was the case of Patricia (pseudonym), a student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who attended Pink Dot for the first time this year.

“After attending this event, I realized that there’s actually a lot of support and acceptance when it comes to queer-related things,” Patricia, 20, says. “Events like these have shown me that many members of the queer community seem to feel safe enough to be out to the public. That’s why I personally feel pretty accepted in terms of being queer in Hong Kong.”

Despite this, Patricia still doesn’t feel like Hong Kong has completely shed its stigma regarding the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Unfortunately cultural-wise, Asians are still known to be sensitive in terms of queer-related things, which may be because of some deep-rooted judgments,” she says, “so I’m not comfortable being out to my family because they’re religious and have mentioned negative views about LGBTQ+ before.”

Denise Inoceno, an Environmental Consultant that also attended Sunday’s event, also felt similarly.

“Seeing families with their kids was great because it made it seem like the general public is becoming more open-minded about LGBTQ+ stuff,” says Inoceno, 24. “I think it was a great event for promoting the LGBTQ+ community as ‘normalized’, and part of the society.”

A family participating in the Pink Dot carnival. Image: Karen @momentonstage/Instagram

However, many of her friends remain in difficult situations when it comes to the people around them accepting their sexuality.

“Some of my friends, they’re Buddhists and their parents don’t care if they’re gay, no biggie. While others are scared to even come out because they’ll get disowned and be homeless. Sadly I know more friends in the latter case,” Inoceno says.

Rainbow flags at the booths at Pink Dot. Image: Pink Dot/Facebook
The theme of this year’s Pink Dot is “Express Yourself”, yet it remains difficult for queer people in Hong Kong to safely do such a thing.

Pink Dot ambassador Joey Leung, also a member of the queer community, shares this sentiment. 

“In this day and age, you can express yourself, but it may come with grave consequences.” Leung says in an interview for Pink Dot, “but we can’t allow ourselves to let these negative thoughts and attitudes drag us down.”

Leung, 57, was also a mentor in the popular TV show Good Night Show, a competition show that recently gave rise to popular Cantopop groups Mirror and Collar. The show featured a couple of LGBTQ+-themed performances, which Leung had a part in creating.

“I deliberately tried to add in some LGBTQ+ elements,” Leung says. “It was actually very well received, and it created a lot of buzzes that was overwhelmingly positive. I was told that the audience at home had finally witnessed a touching performance about same-sex love.”

Asha Cuthbert, Cloud Wan, Joey Leung and Zeno Koo on stage at the Pink Dot Closing Concert. Image:@phillipfung/Instagram 

The integration of LGBTQ+ elements in Hong Kong popular media may mark the beginning of a public acceptance of being queer. Until then, events like these are still important to fully integrate LGBTQ+ into Hong Kong culture.

Brian Leung, one of the co-organizers of the event, emphasized the importance of events like these in the concluding concert for last Sunday’s event. 

“In a time like this, where we’ve been isolated for so long, it’s even more important for us to do Pink Dot, and allow a small group like us that’s already quite scattered, to interact with one another,” Leung says.

“Events like this are important,” he says, “because they remind us that we are not alone.”

Feature image from Pink Dot on Facebook.

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