The third Hong Kong Queer Literary and Cultural Festival kicks off this weekend at the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre. We spoke to organiser and grassroots hustler, Jess, just a few days before doors open and discussed the importance of non-eurocentric queer events to build connections.
It’s the week of the festival! Looking at the program, your team put in a lot of work to gather diverse groups, people, and topics under the theme of ‘connections’ this year. What connections do you hope to make?
We hope to connect different communities to explore our intersections. This will help us bring the queer movement forward together in a sustainable way and share experiences faced everyday by non-mainstream groups.
Our seminars explicitly merge different groups and juxtaposes themes. For example, our “Love One Another” seminar is an interfaith dialogue with Christian, Catholic, Buddhist and Taoist representatives; the “Intertwined” seminar discusses the love-hate relationship of media and the LGBTQ community; the “Protect or not to Protect” talk discusses LGBTQ workplace rights from various commercial/corporate angles as well as trade unions. Other themes also include Fujoshi (gay fiction for women), Cantopop culture, Nonviolent Communication etc. We even have a reading group on Woman Collectives in Latin America, by Verónica Sanchis Bencomo, a Venezuelan photographer, photo editor, and contributing writer!
Our curation of queer literature and culture is less flamboyant- it’s more about taking something away, learning more about a topic, or triggering curiosity through new reads.
What are some new additions to the program this year that you’re excited about?
We are thrilled to be co-hosting with The Painting Studio, who have curated the “Sex/Gender Reinterpretation” Exhibition. Ten artists will create a multimedia response to the current context of gender and sexuality with paintings, writings, videos, performance art, installation art and sculptures to question or challenge the social regulations against body and sexuality.
This is also the first time we have a family-inclusive event, the “Family Queer Storytime”, where guests such as drag queen Coco Pop and activist/entrepreneur/model Kayla Wong will be reading LGBTQ storybooks that were removed from the open shelves of the Hong Kong Public Library last year due to complaints from an anti-LGBTQ group.
How receptive is the local community to an event that covers gender and sexuality through queer literature and culture?
The QLC Festival is popular among the local community because it’s really different than other large-scale hallmark events like Pride Parade or Pink Dot. While still being bilingual, this is an event created by locals for locals, with less capitalist elements, which unfortunately also means less funding. Our curation of queer literature and culture is less flamboyant- it’s more about taking something away, learning more about a topic, or triggering curiosity through new reads.
Even people passing by the venue often come in and try to understand more about our event and message- that’s why we have a Reading/Sharing Corner where hundreds of books and magazines will be available to read for free. In the past, many participants have engaged in conversations with complete strangers, which is essentially the first step of connection.
Hong Kong Queer Literary and Cultural Festival Facebook Page
Click here for the full program and how to register. Don’t miss the Human Library and marketplace!