Since 1982, Gay Games has been a space for solidarity and resistance, a brand that has become synonymous with inclusivity. Above all, it’s become a symbol of defiance in the face of queer and trans marginalization in sports.
To know more, we spoke to Natalie Truong— the Strategic Marketing Director for Gay Games 11 Hong Kong (GGHK) 2022. In this piece, she delves into what makes the Hong Kong edition of Gay Games special and what message it sends out to rest of Asia.
Q. For a long time, sports has been construed as a masculine space. How does Gay Games challenge this problematic assumption?
Sports bring people and communities together and create social cohesion. It’s no different in Gay Games. The only difference is, GGHK is designed to show the world that LGBTQ people are out, proud, and eager to participate and compete! Not only in sports, but every walk of life.
Gay Games is all about celebrating unity, diversity and inclusion. Everyone is welcomed to take part regardless of their ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, or background. All that matters is that participants are doing their best at what they love, having a great time and most importantly, feeling respected and supported.
Q. Why is Hong Kong the first host city in Asia?
Hong Kong is uniquely placed to host the first Gay Games in Asia.
Hong Kong is Asia’s “World City.” It is vibrant, has great public transport infrastructure and sports facilities. Hong Kong is safe, with beautiful trails and over 70% of Hong Kong is designated as country parks.
The city’s diversity is evident in how locals have embraced the expat community. It is the gateway to Asia for those coming from outside of Asia, with about 25 countries within a 4-hour flight of Hong Kong.
For participants from within Asia, given Hong Kong’s proximity to other Asian countries, hosting the Gay Games in Hong Kong also makes participating in the Gay Games more affordable than traveling all the way to the US/Europe.
Last but not least, Hong Kong has a small but lively LGBTQI community and with the recent positive changes to LGBTQ+ rights and representation in Asia, hosting the Gay Games in Hong Kong will help create a legacy of positive change in the perception and acceptance of LGBTQI in Hong Kong, Asia and beyond.
Q. How do you, the organizers, help practice inclusion at the event when compared to other games and sporting events?
Gay Games at its core is a celebration of our LGBTQI community, and has been for decades. It would be unfair to compare our unifying events to any other group or organization. As is the mantra of “pride,” all are welcome, we are one community and stronger througher unity.
Q. How has local media in Hong Kong covered Gay Games so far?
GGHK is building momentum in Hong Kong and we’re seeing more and more local media reach out to us, asking us to share our stories, with a key focus to inspire and motivate the community as well as spread respect and love.
Q. What is the expected turnout of allies as performers and audiences for the cultural programs? Does the presence of allies affect the morale of sportspersons positively?
Instead of seeing the cultural program as a separate event, we’d like to see it as one complete experience. Our Arts & Culture Festival is an integral part of the 9-day GGHK, showcasing some of the region and world’s top talents and cultural performances.
As of today, we’re already seeing over 20 cultural programs taking form and we’re expecting 12,000 participants, 75,000 spectators and 3,000 volunteers to join us on this journey.
We’re expecting supporters from all around the world to join us and our Arts & Cultural Festival will serve as a platform for everyone to engage, connect and inspire. The presence support groups are always helpful when it comes to boosting morale and motivation.
Q. Young queer athletes face many hurdles in pursuing a career in sports & athletics. What’s your message to them?
We have to congratulate them on their openness and willingness to come out in areas that for many can be challenging. You are welcomed and will be embraced by everyone associated with Gay Games. This is more than just a place for you to compete, we hope you will feel it as a home and that you are welcomed by your extended family & community.
Marked by sincere dedication towards the LGBTQI+ community worldwide, the 11th edition of Gay Games is a stand-out moment for Hong Kong and the rest of Asia. We can only hope that other Asian countries take a leaf out of Hong Kong’s book and celebrate the LGBTQI+ community with warmth, love and democratic freedom.