Here’s an article on Hong Kong’s Pink Season written by Tony Ed Lo for Fridae.asia a few months back but not published. My thanks to Tony for permission to publish it.
The Pink Season is going be the next big thing in Hong Kong
I guess some of you might have heard of Hong Kong’s Pink Season, but few will know what it is really about. Maybe you have seen its logo somewhere, the adorable pink panda wearing a tiara of the famous Hong Kong skyscraper skyline. You might have wondered where the name Pink Season comes from. Anshuman Das (AD for short, the event’s founding Coordinator) told me that it was the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) who came up with the name. So in a way, for once in a blue moon, the Hong Kong Government has supported the LGBT community by backing this event from the start.
No one thought that the Pink Season would actually launch its first year in 2011. When the group of activists who conceived the idea approached the HKTB in late 2010, there was limited time to meet the deadline for submission of events for the HKTB 2011 calendar. The team that dreamed up the idea and went to see the HKTB consisted of a lot of the key players responsible for Hong Kong’s LGBT calendar: Joe Lam for the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and DimSum Magazine, Wai Wai for the Pride Parade, James Gannaban for Mr Gay Hong Kong and Nigel Collett representing Greg Crandall and Edowan Bersma of Floatilla plus the Pink Alliance, then operating as the Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting (TCJM). As it was a newborn baby, the organisers thought the Pink Season needed a little longer gestation time to gather together the various organisations already mounting events and to convince people to get onboard. The HKTB thought otherwise and encouraged the team to go ahead. They pressed for action and bombarded the team with emails asking “How’s the “Pink Season” getting together?” So the team went ahead anyway and moved along with the events they had in hand by that time, despite the fact that they were planned to spread over more than two months. They also decided to go ahead with the name HKTB had suggested. “The name seemed relevant and just right, so they decided to stick to it,” AD explained.
It was pretty clear from early on that the Pink Season would need a lot of work to pull it all together, so the TCJM appointed AD as the founding Coordinator. AD has been contributing to the gay community since he moved to Hong Kong. He runs the Pink Alliance (TCJM)’s communications and IT, he’s deeply involved in the diversity world of Hong Kong’s banks and businesses, and he finds time amongst all this to write books. His debut novel The Memory of a Face (http://anshdas.com/books/) came out last year and he is currently working on his second one.
Brian Leung, presenter of RTHK’s We Are Family programme and creator of Gay Station Hong Kong, agreed to head the Season as the first ‘Mr Pink’. The TCJM is a not-for-profit NGO, and so the Pink Season evolved in the same way. All the funds it raised for the events were spent on them or kept for the next year’s Season; you can see the accounts on the Season’s website. No one got paid or made a profit for working to make it all happen.
AD got together a team of volunteers who set up a website, contacted possible partners and sponsors, designed and distributed the promotional material, encouraged more and more organisers of new events to list and even some to create new events specifically for the Season. In total, 22 listed for 2011. Around the events which formed the pillars of the season (the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Floatilla and Mr Gay Hong Kong) a series of other events coalesced. There were dance and beach parties, dramas, talks and shows. Drama included Clifton Kwan’s play It’s Oh so Queer while movement and dance were represented by Tony Wong and Allen Lam’s take on homophobic bulling, The Invincible Truth, specially created for the Season. Pichead Amornsomboom and Frankie Ho revived the musical One Night in Falsettoland. In Drag on Halloween, Les Fleurs Sauvage and Drag Overdose made sure there was plenty of cross dressing and lip-synching for aficionados of those arts, and the TCJM’s own beach party, Out in the Open hit Middle Bay for the second year. You can check out the full list of events at 2011’s site, http://pinkseason.hk/about/past-seasons/ps2011/. “There was only one major event missing for the Pink Season,” AD reflected. “The Pride Parade Committee backed out in mid-2011.” There’s no clear reason why, though the fact that they only set the date for the November Pride Parade just over two months before that, in August 2011, may have had something to do with it. I guess we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed that they’ll get their act together in time for the 2nd Pink Season this year.
The Pink Season is Hong Kong’s first LGBT festival and it aims to bring the local community closer together. AD told me that once people found the website and realised what the Season was aiming to achieve, many people volunteered their expertise. Some pitched in for design, others for marketing. By the end, there was a team of about 16 volunteers involved. “People with different talents, backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities all united,” AD said. “It was inspiring to see how strong our community was and how much people wanted to contribute.”
The Pink Season also aims to promote Hong Kong as a gay-friendly city in order to draw more people to visit, which, of course, is why the HKTB are keen to promote it. It will provide a platform for local LGBT artists to showcase their works to the world. So if you have some wicked talent you want to expose, give it a go and list on the site!
The first Pink Season drew attention from the public and the media. It was mentioned in RTHK’s TVB Pearl Report and almost all the local mainstream media. The Pink Season team will be bigger and stronger this year and the team is already putting the second Season together. The media outreach will be correspondingly larger. The effect on the general community in HK was seen to be beneficial. By the positive feedback the organsiers received, they could see that people were being persuaded to be more open-minded towards sexual diversity. At the same time, they could see an increase in the unity of the Hong Kong LGBT community.
So if you plan a trip to Hong Kong in the autumn, treat the Pink Season site as a guide to what’s on. When the Season is in full swing, you will find the diversity of its activities will cater for almost anything you could think of doing here. The intention is that people from around the world will come to Hong Kong especially for the Pink Season.
Check out the site at: http://pinkseason.hk/ and the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/PinkSeason.HK. If you would like to include any event you are planning this year, you can do so by contacting the organizers online at: http://pinkseason.hk/events/event-entry-form/. And of course if you have a spare pair of hands and want to volunteer, they’d love you to get in touch with them at: Volunteer@PinkSeason.HK.
Even if you think you have no talents under your belt you can always donate to the Season at: http://pinkseason.hk/about/donate/.
Stay tuned for more information on these pages as the Season approaches.