The start of the first-ever Gay Games to be held in Asia is now just 100 days away; “we welcome anyone to join us to create history,” say Gay Games Hong Kong co-chair and Federation of Gay Games co-president in article addressing the importance of visibility, political realities, safety concerns, and more…
By Lisa Lam and Joanie Evans
With 100 days to go until “Games Day”, we are proud and excited to be bringing the world’s largest LGBTQ+ sporting and cultural event to Asia for the first time.
That’s because the Gay Games are more than just a competition. They are a celebration of diversity, inclusion and acceptance.
They provide a platform for visibility, empowerment and advocacy.
Most importantly, they represent a community that shares the same passion for sport and the values of respect, dignity and equality.
For minorities, representation and visibility matter. Having role models is very important.
We hope that the Games’ positive role models will help remove stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people, and also help young people who may be questioning their own sexuality or gender identities to feel less alone.
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‘An opportunity to inspire others’
For professional athletes who have come out, they can live their authentic selves and succeed in sports at the same time. A common sentiment among out athletes is their feeling of relief and not having to live a lie.
Out and proud Scottish footballer Zander Murray was recently in Hong Kong at the invitation of Gay Games Hong Kong, where he described his harrowing experience of being trapped in the closet and the years of mental toll it took on him.
Zander’s story is sadly not an uncommon one, stoking our passion and sense of urgency.
The UK has a long history of fighting for LGBTQ+ rights, from the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 to the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2014.
But there is still more work to be done, especially in areas such as education, health care, employment and sports.
The Gay Games are an opportunity for British LGBTQ+ athletes and allies to showcase their talents and achievements on a global stage, and to inspire others to follow their dreams.
The Games are also a chance for British people to learn from other cultures and perspectives, and to build bridges of friendship and solidarity with people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
With some parts of the world in a worrying swing back to anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes, events like the Games in Hong Kong – an international city and cultural melting pot – are more important than ever.
What the Games bring to a new place and region such as Hong Kong and Asia is a display of international solidarity through the unifying power of sport.
We want to showcase the diversity and talent of our community and all who take part, and inspire others to join us in our pursuit of happiness and freedom.
Asia’s LGBTQ+ community – while vibrant and thriving – is still some way from enjoying the broad-based support and recognition seen in other parts of the world.
In Asia, there are not that many opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community to come together at scale, and participate in an international event that celebrates the spectrum of identities not always accepted in broader society.
‘GGHK will be a catalyst for understanding’
The inclusive nature of the Games, which are open to anyone regardless of sexual orientation, is part of its unique strength. The purpose of GGHK as an organisation is to create a positive and lasting impact on how society perceives LGBTQ+ inclusion in Hong Kong, Asia, and beyond.
This is why we have more than 200 passionate and mission-driven GGHK volunteers – proud Hongkongers – working hard to stage a welcoming and successful Games in November this year.
We are not naive or oblivious to political realities and social issues. We are aware of the risks and challenges that come with hosting such a large-scale event in a complex, dynamic and multi-dimensional world.
Indeed, since winning the bid to host the Gay Games, the pandemic and other issues have thrown many uncertainties our way, leading us to postpone and co-host the games with Guadalajara in Mexico, another first for the Games.
But our team has not lost sight of its purpose, which is to simply celebrate diversity and inclusivity through sport, arts and culture. We are proud of how much the team in Hong Kong has accomplished in spite of the challenges.
We are optimistic and hopeful that GGHK will be a catalyst for dialogue, understanding and positive outcomes. LGBTQ+ people in Hong Kong, whilst not having some of the rights that other countries and regions have implemented like marriage equality, are able to live openly and authentically in public.
There are no safety concerns for LGBTQ+ tourists to be themselves while visiting the city. Hong Kong is ranked as one of the safest cities in the world, and hate crimes against someone based on their gender or sexual orientation are rare.
We welcome anyone to join us to create history at Asia’s first Gay Games in Hong Kong in November – just 100 days away!
Come and be a part of an event that celebrates diversity, inclusion and empowerment and a meeting of people from all over the world in the spirit of sport and personal best.
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