How Mr Gay Hong Kong is fighting for LGBT rights
Written by Philip Howell-Williams on January 21, 2015.
In the course of my research to find out the different ways that the LGBT community is working to promote equality in Hong Kong I have spoken to many of its most prominent members. I recently had the good fortune to to meet and talk to the winner of this year’s Mr Gay Hong Kong, Mass Luciano.
Mass, who is originally from the USA and currently works as a fashion designer in Hong Kong, put himself forward for the title of Mr Gay HK for a number of reasons. Most importantly he wanted to present himself as a role model for others in order to help people tackle the inequality that exists. His role is not a political one and he is given free reign to adapt it to how he sees best.
Over the two and a half years that Mass has lived in Hong Kong he has come to understand that the city requires an LGBT community that has more to it than just socialising in bars. While there are many different organisations that are all working towards common goals, they lack cohesion and this is an issue which Mass would like to work on.
One of the major problems faced by the LGBT local community is the secrecy surrounding the identity of its members. Although many parents are aware that their children are gay, they find it difficult to approach the subject, do not fully accept the fact and certainly do not discuss it outside of the home environment. LGBT individuals face the same difficulties in their work environment and it is these people that need to be reached out to the most.
Like many others, Mass believes that one of the main barriers to acceptance of members of the LGBT community in this country is the lack of role models in the public eye. Only a handful of celebrities are openly gay in Hong Kong, especially compared to countries such as the USA where more and more public figures are open about their sexuality. Being gay in most parts of the US has become acceptable and no longer raises eyebrows - just as it should be.
Mass has a busy year planned. Like previous Mr Gay HK winners, he will be working as a public role model with the Queer Straight Alliance giving talks at universities. Although he does not take part in political lobbying, he understands its importance as yet another way to bring around change.
In 2015 Mass will be representing Hong Kong at Mr Gay World in South Africa and believes that this will be an important opportunity to push for change for the LGBT community in Hong Kong.
Increasing HIV awareness is another main objective for Mass who will be working with organisations such as Aids Concern. Fortunately he has not been put off by the fate of his predecessor who used his HIV+ status as a key point when campaigning for the position only to end up losing his job and leaving Hong Kong as a result of the prejudice he suffered.
59 new cases of AIDS in people aged 19 were documented in the last quarter alone proving that there is a lot to be done in this area. Mass is promoting the free AIDS testing clinic and has been actively talking to people online about the services that are available in Hong Kong to prevent further spread of the disease.
Representing the LGBT community is a very important role that Mass has embraced with vigour. He recognises the problems that exist at the moment and has made a commitment to make a difference. As he told me ‘If you can change just one thing then you have made a difference and can then move from there to make more’.
As a company that is also deeply committed to supporting the LGBT community in Hong Kong by providing information and support in the world of finance, Infinity Financial Solutions would like to offer its congratulations to Mass and thank him for his time. We hope that he enjoys his role as Mr Gay HK, and wish him every success in working with other organisations and companies such as ourselves to make a real difference for LGBT individuals living and working here.