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It's been a landmark year LGTI communities in East Asia. In May, Taiwan lagalised same-sex marriage and in October Hong Kong was awarded the right to host the Gay Games 2022. Built on the three pillars of sport, arts and culture and conferences, the event is a diversity festival open to anyone regardless of gender, age, race, sexual orientation or physical aptitude.
The historical victory took 18 months of hard work following the announcement of the longlisted cities in April 2016. "We didn't have funding or sponsorship, so had to start from zero," says Dennis Phiilipse, co-chair of the Hong Kong Gay Games. It was only through an incredible amount of work from an army of willing volunteers that Hong Kong made it to the final stage, eventually overcoming Washington DC and Guadalajara, Mexico, to bring the games to Asia for the first time ever.
Although it may surprise many, the Gay Games bid has been supported by our rather conservative government. Not to the point of investment but it has allowed Philipse and his team the right to go through the same processes as any other event in terms of making it a reality, which at least shows a willingness to work alongside the event as opposed to against it. And what about any ultra-conservatives who think the games are a synonym for Sodom and Gamorrah? The pink dollar seems to have muted many of their criticisms. "We expect the games to bring in around $1 billion to the city over 10 days," says team member Abby Lee.
When we ask what bringing the games to Hong Kong means, Philipse tells us a story: "One of our members participated in the Gay Games in 2014 in Cleveland and met a Japanese athlete who had won a medal. He said to him, 'you must be very proud of your medal' and the the athlete replied 'not really'. My colleague asked why not and was told 'I can't bring the medal home becuase my friends and family think I'm on a business trip'. That champion couldn't tell his story. I hope that in bringing the Gay Games to Asia we can build lighthouses and friendships so people can feel empowered to the point where they can say to their parents, 'I participated in the Gay Games'."
Nov 2022; gaygameshk2022.com.