Saturday, September 19, 2009

Radical gay activists, and the Hong Kong Rainbow Centre

Ken jai (jnr.) and Tommy jai are two somewhat radical, yet committed and caring gay activists in Hong Kong, and are the founders of Rainbow Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Rainbow Centre. Both have fought hard and struggled to open, and then operate, a "drop in centre" for GLBTIQ folk in Hong Kong.

The first Rainbow Centre was opened in Mong Kok (Kowloon side) in 2000, but had to close again one year later because of lack of funds. But after several years, a replacement Rainbow Centre was re-opened in Jordan (also on the Kowloon side) in 2007. While an obviously much-needed venue and used by many gays & lesbains there, it still struggles to the present day in order to raise sufficient finance to keep this essential centre open. While Ken is the full-time coordinator of the centre, there is often insufficient funds left over each month for Ken to eke out even a poorly wage.

But Ken is also well-known for his radical activities in conservative Hong Kong, arising as a result of discovering he was HIV+ in 1995 while he was still in secondary school. Instead of going right into the HIV closet and locking the door, he got involved in AIDS Concern, and the AIDS Foundation... and so his Hong Kong activism commenced. Not only was he openly gay, but also openly HIV+.

Following the closure of the first Rainbow Centre in Mong Kok, Ken decided to try to enter electoral local politics as an openly gay HIV+ man. While unsuccessful on two occasions, his public profile was never-the-less elevated, and to this day he contiues to fight for right and justice for both GLBTIQ people in general, but also for the HIV community.

Ken met Tommy at a Tongzhi (GLBTIQ) Conference in Hong Kong in 1998, and immediately discovered another radical and concerned peer with whom he could work and share his concern for the community.

Tommy is also not publicity-shy (he admits to being a "media whore"...), and he has taken some radical actions that many of us in the West would not even be prepared to do. He became famous for his ‘Rainbow Actions’ in the Roman Catholic Cathedral, and in front of the Hong Kong Central Police Station where he led a protest against the prosecution of a BDSM club and shop, Fetish Fashion, by chaining himself in full leather gear to the police station hand rails.

These are two radical gay activists, yet who are also very genuine, committed, and deeply caring young Chinese guys who just want to make for a better place for gays & lesbians (or locally known as the "tongzhi community") in Hong Kong.

And Allan will be chatting with both Ken and Tommy on Orange Ribbon this coming Wednesday, 23rd September at 7:00pm on JOY 94.9. Please join us for a wonderfully interesting, and sometimes challenging, discussion. Would YOU be prepared to do just some of the things (in the West) that these guys have done in much more conservative Hong Kong?

Oh... and given the financial struggles that the much-needed Rainbow (drop in) Centre in Hong Kong continues to face, Ken and Tommy would be eternally grateful of any donations people may wish to make in order to help keep the centre open. It is constantly facing pending closure due to its limited finances, almost a month-by-month, hand-to-mouth operation. If you feel so inclined and would like to assist in some small way, donations can be made as follows:-

  • Bank: Hang Seng Bank (Hong Kong)
    Account: 356-142059-001
    Name: Rainbow of Hong Kong

Or if you would like to communicate with Ken about the struggles of the Rainbow Centre then you can email him at .

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