If you are looking for something heartwarming and honest that feels like a hug from an old friend, then this is definitely a show that you need to check out. Featuring a series of back-to-back interviews, ‘Queer Asia – Hong Kong’ is a GagaOOLala show that is not interested in dramatisation or sensationalising the queer reality. Instead, it is focused on what is important: honest queer narratives focused on lived experiences and diverse perspectives.
This becomes obvious the moment we are introduced to writer and stand-up comedienne Cheuk Wan-chi, who is the host and interviewer for this ride. Being bisexual, Wan-chi is herself a part of the community that show revolves around, and therefore does not approach the interviewees from an outside-in perspective but becomes an equal participant in the conversations that are rich in equal parts with anecdotes and discussions about social justice. Wan-chi is definitely a compelling host who knows how to make the interviewees (and the audience) feel comfortable and relaxed. This is partly because she only interviews one person (or couple) at a time, and that creates a feeling of intimacy and safety that goes beyond the surface.
The first person that Wan-chi sits down with in the pilot episode is Jun Lee, a director who writes extensively about being gay in Hong Kong. Through a discussion of his debut film, ‘Tracey’, the duo end up talking about the difference between the queer and heterosexual perspectives, and how being at a particular place in the gender spectrum impacts your life in big and small ways. ‘Tracey’ is about a trans woman who comes out later in life, and Lee speaks in length about the creative process that went into the film. They also discuss the general process of coming out, and how a lot of families already know about their kids being queer if they are actually close to their children. Next, our host sits down with Beatrice, a warm and endearing trans woman who talks about her journey of transitioning and coming out to her mother. Though Beatrice recounts instances of transphobia, her perspective on life comes across as quite optimistic, and the host makes sure to note that.
William and Clement, a married gay couple, is next. A writer and a doctor, they both have very different perspectives to how they approach relationships, so the segment with them goes deeper than just how straight people perceive their relationship. We hear about their personal journeys that made them realise who they are and brought them closer together. The importance of introspection and being in touch with oneself is immediately apparent through this conversation. Last but not least, we meet a pastor who talks about his struggle to advocate for queer rights. It is a good reminder that religion and queerness aren’t always at opposing ends for some people, and they do find that their belief system instead inspires them to love everyone and treat everyone with respect. These heart-warming interviews completely do justice to the title of the episode, ‘Living Proud’, for every single one of the interviewees is not only unabashedly themselves, but also has a warmth that makes it obvious that they are living their authentic lives.
The episode also features snippets of ‘on the street’ conversations with people walking around Hong Kong, which gives the audience a sense of how the average citizen perceives the community, but what they feel impacts this perception. The editing is seamless and phenomenal, with every single sentence feeling relevant and adding to the conversations. Being a metropolitan, Hong Kong has a huge population and while everyone might not be accepting of the community, a wave of change in the youngsters can definitely be seen in the episode.
The pilot episode of Queer Asia- Hong Kong is incredibly informative and comforting (except for some accounts of queerphobia that may be triggering). It acknowledges intersectional realities, does not assume that all people who share a label have heterogeneous journeys, and gives the community a voice without turning the people into representatives or tokens. If this is any indication of how the season will proceed, then it is definitely worth binging. The subtitles may not always deliver as sometimes literal transitions do not contain the most progressive usage of words, but the genuine emotions and connection between the host and her interviewees makes it obvious that they are well-intentioned. Some of my favourite moments involved seeing Wan-chi clearly relating to something that one of the interviewees was saying and adding her own experience to the conversation. There will definitely be something in each interview that will resonate with you, and something that will help you expand your perspective and grow. This one is a definite watch, regardless of whether you are a part of the queer community or an ally.