From Hong Kong with Love

Last week I wrote a blog post on Europe Day, in which I called upon readers to send in a letter of hope, encouragement or understanding to those Europeans currently suffering from minority marginalization, in particular in Poland’s LGBT ideology-free zones. Writing from Hong Kong, Raymond was the first person to reply. Below I’ll share his letter, for which I am very grateful:

Taoyuan City, Taiwan

I am a gay guy living in Hong Kong, coming from a traditional family with whom I’ve lived together for decades. With all the social pressure and our cultural background, I can understand what life is like being gay in this society. I am sure I am not the only one in Hong Kong, let alone in Asia, and I would say we have more or less come to accept our fate as a minority. However, in recent years we saw the equality movement all around the world and the success that people have achieved, prominently in Europe and the US and recently in Taiwan. It gives us hope and goal to pursue: one day we may be able to achieve the same. That’s why, when I read your blog post and learned what’s going on in some eastern European countries, I was totally disappointed. Isn’t the EU or in general Europe our role model for rights and equality? Why does the EU, which positions itself as the global defender of human rights, tolerate discrimination and bullying of such a disgraceful scope? Maybe those in charge are unfamiliar with what it’s like being LGB or T, but they need to be reminded that all kinds of discrimination and racism are the same and equally unfair. And those who remain silent and tolerate what’s going on are just making themselves accomplices. I really hope that people in the EU, the politicians and officials, will look into the matter and stop this non-sense as soon as possible. Treasure what you have achieved! And lastly, I would like to send my regards to those who are suffering under these conditions. Please remember: you are never alone.

Thank you, Raymond. Your hope is inspiring and the deception you experienced recognizable. The achievements in Taiwan meant a lot to us, too. The world is surely moving in the right direction, and, especially for European countries, this creates the opportunity to show that systemic discrimination is a thing of the past. However, political decisions are not always based on ideologies or dreams of a better future. Since you live in Hong Kong, you will understand the ruthlessness of power games much better than I do. I fear that minority stigmatization is often a tool for politicians to position themselves in the here and now. And, as you write, not knowing what it’s like to feel excluded for who you are, politicians who apply such strategies may not even be aware of (or care about) the personal traumas they create. Living in a democracy, the question that keeps spinning in my head, however, is: how is it possible that this even works as a strategy? Who are the voters so willing to take away my individual rights and liberties? What about the person standing behind me in the queue at the supermarket? What about my neighbor?

But then your words of encouragement kick in: you are never alone. Your letter is proof of this. Even in Poland and Hungary today, movements for justice and equality are pushing for change. It’s precisely for that reason that incumbent leaders have to try so hard to stay in office. The only reason they intimidate journalists, judges, scholars or opposition leaders is because they know they wouldn’t make it in a full-functioning democracy. The strength of these Strong Leaders is their ability to cheat. What we can do is to point out the cheating, and to provide the strongest antidote to screams of division: millions and millions of whispers of love and solidarity.

I really hope more people will share a personal story or perspective, and as I promised before, I will do my best to forward your messages to activists and politicians in the aforementioned regions, so that the whispers may trigger more whispers!


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