A record 4,000 people took part in the fourth Hong Kong Pride Parade today, a day before LGBT rights advocates confront homophobes at a closely-watched public forum.
The number of participants joining the march titled ‘Dare to Love’ on an unusually hot afternoon from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay was significantly up from last year’s 2,500, according to organizers.
Rainbow Ambassador Ray Chan Chi-chuen, the first openly-gay lawmaker in Greater China, will debate with the city’s best-known homophobe ChoiChi-sumof Society of Truth and Light and others about LGBT rights at a weekly forum at the Park.
Just this year, Choi pushed for a full-page advertisement against same-sex marriage in newspapers and an online petition against LGBT legislative protection that eventually drew some 30,000 signatures.
At Chater Garden in Central, the Pride destination, Chan told the Pride-goers he would ‘move them with love, not bickering, and convince them with reasons that tongzhi (gay people) are not monsters, freaks, or aliens, but friends, colleagues and children around them.’
The refusal to hold a legislation consultation on equal rights for LGBTs earlier this week, Chan said, meant nothing to a new movement that would keep going and he called on more people to join it.
‘It’s not only those with gay children, grandchildren, friends or colleagues, who should step forward,’ he said. ‘Even though we don’t have any offspring, we are still fighting for Hong Kong’s good. Your children are just like ours.’
Chan said it has taken years for the city to see an openly-out lawmaker like himself and a gay singer like Anthony Wong to showcase the need for better workplace equality, the Pride theme.
During the march, pro-gay rights lawmaker Gary Fan stood out easily in his pilot uniform. People impersonating judges, chefs, nurses, soldiers and so on were also widely seen, along with numerous real-life bankers from sponsors Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Nomura.
Participants criticizing a relative lack of scantily-clad guys as seen in many other Prides would later be compensated with a dance show featuring two Mr Gay Hong Kongs among its performers.
Drag queens, from as far away as Italy and Australia, wowed the crowd effortlessly on the same stage where an HIV positive, a newly-married lesbian and two gays with hearing disabilities were given a chance to speak out their inner thoughts to loved ones.
But singer Denise Ho’s surprise move out of the closet was beyond doubt the Pride’s highlight.Legislator Cyd Ho, who has for years been a forerunner in the fight for LGBT rights protection, came onstage in tears after the announcement.
‘Gays are only fighting for equal rights and treatment as others, they aren’t demanding privileges,’ she said, refuting claims that reverse discrimination would arise.
‘If society at large can become accepting and tolerant, our little prince and princess at each family,’ she said, patting on Anthony Wong’s and Denise Ho’s backs, ‘would get more care, regardless of their sexual orientations
‘I hope there will be more peace and love in Hong Kong.’