14 DEC 2016

LGBT in the City:
A new walking tour exploring Hong Kong’s diverse gay scene

We all know Hong Kong isn’t exactly known for its championing of LGBTI rights. While our legislation is no longer as restrictive as some of our Asian neighbours (hi, Singapore!), our gay community’s culture has historically been swept under the rug (we can probably thank our colonial forefathers for that). But where there are streets, there’s history too, so tour group Walk in Hong Kong’s decision to shine a light on our SAR’s long LGBTI history with its new walking tour series, LGBT in the City, is a welcome move.

The first of its kind in Hong Kong, the three-hour walk, which is to be held on scattered Fridays throughout the year, is inspired by similar successful operations in gay hubs like Sydney and San Francisco. And with events like this, on top of larger-scale ones like the upcoming LGBTI film festival and September’s Pink Season, as well as our bid to host the 2022 Gay Games, Hong Kong is now establishing itself as a diverse Asian gay-friendly destination with an increasingly global appeal.

The tour isn’t just for visitors though. LGBT in the City proves an enlightening stroll for Hongkongers, too. For tour researcher and leader Benita Chick – also a co-chairperson of the Hong Kong Gay Games bidding team – the tour is all about showing off a diverse Hong Kong to ‘straight and gays, locals and visitors alike’. The nine stops around Central and Sheung Wan include spots of historical and cultural significance, both on and off the well-trodden track. For Chick, these locatons ‘showcase a diversity of LGBT life in Hong Kong that goes beyond what you see in movies and celebrity life, to show how ‘real’ LGBT citizens live their lives’ in Hong Kong. The tour begins with a neo-classical bent at the site of the former Supreme Court (recently restored as the Final Court of Appeal), with an introduction to Hong Kong’s history of LGBTI legislation and rights. Other highlights include a pitstop in a Lan Kwai Fong sex shop before pilgrimages to nearby but sadly closed institutions Club 97 and Propaganda to hear stories about our buzzing LGBTI nightlife scene.

The hidden Central sanctuary of Pak Tsz Lane Park is a particularly enlightening pitstop. It’s the location of a fascinating insight into the lay of the LGBTI land in ancient China as well as a spot to learn about sexual potency-enhancing traditional medicines. The tour wraps up at one of the city’s most iconic gay bars, which, by the time you arrive close to midnight on a Friday night, should be in full swing. You even get a free drink upon arrival, well earned by this point.

In researching the tour, Chick, who has experienced an international range of gay and pride events after several years living abroad, says there is both a demand and a need for this type of experience, particularly in Asia. “There have not been such tours in the Asia region at all,” she says. “There are many gay parties and pride events, but such a format has yet to exist in the region.” The tour is an engaging and authentic look at a community that might still be small in numbers but has a growing voice, while also enhancing the city’s credentials as an LGBTI destination – not to mention representative of an increasing local awareness of the value of the pink tourist dollar. It seems like there’s never been a better excuse to take a gay ol’ stroll.

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Timeout Hong Kong
14 DEC 2016

Take a stroll through Hong Kong’s queer history and culture with the city’s first LGBT+ walking tour

Gender identity and sexual orientation haven’t always been integral topics of discussion in Hong Kong, but they sure are about to be with Walk in Hong Kong’s brand new tour, “LGBT in the City”.

It will probably come as a surprise for many, but Hong Kong has an incredibly rich LGBT+ history and culture. Inspired by similar tours in major cities such as Sydney and San Francisco, “LGBT in the City” aims to showcase to its participants everything that Hong Kong has to offer to the LGBT+ community.

Join in to visit everything from famous landmarks like the old Propaganda, Hong Kong’s premier gay nightclub for 25 years, to hidden LGBT+ hangout spots in back alleys.

 “LGBT in the City”. Photo: Benita Chick

Apart from learning about Hong Kong’s LGBT+ history and culture, “LGBT in the City” is also an opportunity to gain a little practical knowledge, as you’ll stop at a sex shop to learn about different types of sex toys and props… of course, given that you’re 18 or above. Don’t fret though! If there are youngsters present, the tour guide will modify the trip accordingly.

The tour will conclude at the iconic Zoo Bar (18+), where guests can enjoy a free drink and swap anecdotes with one another. Afterwards, you’ll also be able to talk to the manager and get the dish on queer nightlife in Hong Kong.

Benita Chick, a proud member of the LGBT+ community and the creator of “LGBT in the City”, came up with the idea for this tour out of her love and passion for the community. After living abroad for many years and having attended numerous pride events, Chick believed that there was a need for such a tour to exist in Hong Kong.

“My goal is to showcase a diversity of LGBT life in Hong Kong that goes beyond what you see in movies … [I want to show] how ‘real’ LGBT live their life in Hong Kong,” Chick told Coconuts HK.

Chick (R) at LGBT in the City”. Photo: Benita Chick

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Coconuts Hong Kong
14 DEC 2016

隨LGBT Tour遊中上環 發掘同志桑拿與酒吧的前世今生

傍晚時分,中環電梯上熙來攘往,橋上可望到旁邊唐樓低層窗戶內的風景,惟匆匆路人無暇窺探。在今次「LGBT Tour」導遊Benita的帶領下,就在最繁忙的轉角處,窗帷緊閉的那一層是營運了二十多年的老牌同志桑拿。


老闆華哥直言,「16歲未夠秤就落Club、Disco玩,開Gay Bar是我很早開始的夢想。」1991年是他步近夢想的一年—— 他與朋友合夥開了一間同志桑拿。同年立法局通過修例,21歲以上的成年男子在雙方同意下,於私人地方進行性行為,免刑事責任。「古代叫澡堂,男性容易有性興奮,順便開心下。」華哥的解釋直截了當。男士們僅以白浴巾遮蔽要處,在幽暗之中恣意放縱。





70後︰Gay Bar是唯一找到對象的地方

酒吧常客45歲的男同志Reggie分享,十多歲時發現自己喜歡同性,「以為全世界得自己一個是Gay……會害怕、孤獨感好大。」80年代極少人敢「出櫃」,只能猜度自己日常社交中的兩、三人是否同志,他一度覺得無可能找到對象。讀完書做傳媒的他,也要靠較活躍於同志圈的朋友口耳相傳才找到同志集中地。「不似現在上網打幾隻字就找到Gay Bar。」以前方法是,每逢周末晚放工後,就先跟圈中朋友去香港希爾頓酒店食飯,之後「大家就識得走去蘭桂芳、威靈頓街的角落有間Disco,第二日早上就識得去淺水灣有個角落。」



爭取同志平權多年的Billy,自言獲家人支持「出櫃」是幸運,但有時也會被三姑六婆問到,「幾時娶老婆啊」、「到你娶老婆就明」,他這時總是不以為然地回應一句「我係Gay」,通常他的坦白會使對方無言以對。他笑言,人們平日的交流太呆板,必然將男與女配,「這亦是一種先入為主。」所以,在Gay Bar才可以暢快地不再「與眾不同」,「對我、好多同志而言,Gay Bar是一個較有安全感的地方…在普通酒吧,有人未出櫃,就會怕自己露出馬腳。」

落斜坡到百子里公園,再穿街過巷,行至蘇杭街一帶,幾乎所有街舖都已落閘。沉寂深夜中,唯同志酒吧ZOO的霓虹發光發熱,在街上「抖氣」解醉意的人三五成群,當中有男男親密撫背,亦有男女談笑閒聊。距酒吧不足百米處,有一條通往皇后大道的捷徑—— 油了彩虹的石梯,雖然已被路人踩得有點掉漆,但色彩在暗淡光線之中仍清晰可見。LGBT Tour以此為終點。

對「非我同類」,他們只是用「直人」、「攣人」作分別。但外人卻貶諷他們「變態」、「愛滋病佬」、「死基佬」。曾在美國生活的Benita參加過三藩市的LGBT Tour,今次與「活現香港」策劃港版LGBT Tour,希望可以藉着這種「非獵奇式」的方法,去令更多人認識香港性小眾文化,「本地人、遊客又好,直人、攣人又好,一個城市可以有不同的生活模式……除了何韻詩、黃耀明,同志文化有好多種。」

LGBT Tour 導遊Benita(余俊亮攝)LGBT Tour 導遊Benita(余俊亮攝)
16 AUG 2016

團體聯署守護皇都戲院 民間古蹟辦留口述歷史

推動文化旅遊的機構活現香港 (Walk in Hong Kong) 發起聯署,呼籲政府將皇都戲院列為一級歷史建築,並籌備成立「民間古蹟辦」,廣招市民加入一同「留住香港的瑰寶」。

位於北角擁有 64 年歷史的皇都戲院,早前被古蹟辦專家小組初步評為三級歷史建築,可能面臨被清拆危機。事件引起建築界不滿,指戲院值得更高評級。古物諮詢委員會將於下月開會,預計將會確定皇都戲院的評級。活現香港日前發起網上聯署,力爭最後機會向政府施壓。




皇都戲院建成於1952年,戲院業務 1997 年結束之後,曾改為桌球會及商場,但仍保留其建築特色。古蹟辦公佈歷史建築評級之後,國際專業保育組織 Docomomo International 曾發信警告,指戲院的飛拱設計為全球獨一無二,呼籲政府應當負起保育的責任。


12 AUG 2016

孟蘭反傳統 穿梭「鬼屋」論生死