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Kgothatso at the Pink Dot Festival, an annual celebration of diversity and equality at Hong Kong's West Kowloon Park

Pride in Hong Kong: Insights into the LGBTIAQ+ Community

Chatteris’ own Kgothatso Motshele shares her experience of Pink Dot Festival, an event that combines carnival and music to celebrate diversity and equality…

Once, I remember attending a conference for queer organizations of the South African Development Community (SADC) region in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Alongside talks on how to mobilize better, we all got a chance to hear of some of the lived experiences of queer people in our neighboring countries. Our struggles were the same and different in some ways. Some were fighting to legalise same-sex marriages, others were hoping to revoke laws that punished them for being anything but heterosexual.

During our reflections, a fellow member made an interesting observation. Some countries recognized LGBTIAQ+ rights constitutionally, but the communities were full of pending and unsolved investigations of hate crimes and other forms of violence and rights violations.

I realized it’s not easy to determine what country and city you would choose to live just so you could simply exist and get on with everything else you want to achieve with your life.

I kept this in mind when I was preparing to go live and work as an English tutor in Hong Kong with Chatteris; my first time ever living outside of my home country. I was pleasantly surprised to come across many organizations and initiatives that celebrated queer and trans people, and fought for their rights in the ways necessary. A common one of these is Pink Dot Festival.

I was excited to learn about the Pink Dot Festival and gathered a few friends to join me at West Kowloon Park where the festivities are hosted every year on a Sunday in the summer.

Kgothatso at the Pink Dot Festival, an annual celebration of diversity and equality at Hong Kong's West Kowloon Park
Kgothatso at the Pink Dot Festival, an annual celebration of diversity and equality at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Park | Image by Kgothatso Motshele

Pink Dot is a cross between a family outing and a day party. The park was filled with lineups and live entertainment, food stalls and freebies, while still being an entertaining and appropriate place for kids, pets, grandparents, and other allies to enjoy a day out.

Kgothatso explored the festival with a group of friends | Image by Kgothatso Motshele

Big corporations and religious groups showed up and showed off with their game booths, giveaways, sponsorship opportunities, and prizes. I enjoyed the diversity and how everyone had a little something that tailored to their tastes. 

The Pink Dot Festival had a range of activities and giveaways
The Pink Dot Festival had a range of activities and giveaways | Image by Kgothatso Motshele

Pride Parades around the world were initially started as political movements to fight for the human rights of queer and trans people. Over the years, we have seen these movements evolve into celebratory gatherings, like Pink Dot Festival, where the community and allies come together, not only to sensitize the public, but to celebrate all the undeniable beauty, sass, and swag.

The official Hong Kong Pride Parade usually takes place later in the year around November. It is a walk that starts at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and ends in a big festival in Central. There usually are many after parties to attend in Lan Kwai Fong and Soho, hosted by allies who have participated in the festivities. 

Nothing can undermine the importance of the legal and constitutional battles LGBTIAQ+ still face in various parts of the world, but I was grateful to come to a place where the average person I meet does not impose on my lived experiences based on my sexuality.

In the subways, I see official posters and ads of initiatives taking place to advance the rights of queer people. Every time I walk down Nathan Road into Jordan, I look up to find the huge quote across a commercial building reading “Imagine if we could love anyone we wanted to love”. Alongside it are pictures of ordinary people in various forms of relationships.

Something about that is comforting. At least while the struggle goes on, I can walk outside and know, here in Hong Kong, someone does see me, someone does defend my right to exist.

Working for Chatteris allows you to explore inclusive events in the city like Kgothatso. Click here to find out more!

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