Hong Kong would make financial gains from gay parade

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 November, 2002, 12:00am

Judging from what I have read in media reports, the attempt to revive Poor Man's Nightclub in Sheung Wan has not met expectations.

As many academics correctly pointed out, the legendary night market that flourished in the 1960s was a result of collective intelligence from the working class in a much less affluent Hong Kong.

But the Hong Kong we live in today is simply not the same as the city in which Poor Man's Nightclub flourished.

The government should abandon the mentality of sticking comfortably to well-beaten tracks and think about organising events that have not been tried before. One idea that I have is for a gay parade.

A number of cities already have one, the most successful being Sydney's Mardi Gras. A study conducted in 1994 found that the Mardi Gras had generated A$38 million (about HK$165 million) for the Australian economy. In 1998 celebrating its 20th anniversary it was estimated that the Mardi Gras brought A$99 million to Sydney. In 1996, Toronto's Pride '96 had large crowds and was so successful that major companies jumped at the chance of sponsoring the event the following year.

Most lesbians and gays do not raise children and so they are more willing to use some of their disposable income on luxuries and travel. If a gay parade was to be held in Hong Kong, it would certainly attract many high-spending lesbian and gay tourists. International brand names, having already tapped into the gay market, would also be interested in sponsoring the event.

Hong Kong is cosmopolitan and vibrant, so it would be the perfect venue for a gay parade. The city boasts a good number of gay non-governmental organisations and charities, including Horizons (www.horizons.org.hk), which has the expertise to organise a notable gay pride event. All they need is a little support from the Hong Kong government, which prefers to shun the taboo subject of sexual minorities because it does not want to stir controversies.

The administration should seize a readily available economic opportunity that has benefited many major cities around the world.