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City Weekend

Gay Hong Kong radio deejay helps LGBTQ community find voice and urges marriage equality

He came out on the air 17 years ago and knows hurdles to acceptance remain

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 November, 2017, 11:04am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 November, 2017, 11:04am

Brian Leung Siu-fai first revealed he was gay in 2000, making the bold announcement during a programme he hosted on online radio platform.

Fortunately for Leung, coming out of the closet to his family was not much of a struggle.

“I remembered vividly that one of my three sisters called me on the phone one day and said they all knew in the back of their minds,” he recalls. Even though Leung’s parents never acknowledged the obvious, they gave him the support he needed. But to this day, his sexuality is still something he calls a “don’t ask, don’t tell” topic at the dinner table.

Clearly not everyone’s experience is like Leung’s, and the media veteran believes coming out is not always easy.

If people come together, as a whole community we become stronger
Brian Leung, Big Love Alliance

Yet years after his revelation and while holding a job elsewhere, he was still bullied.

“There was this colleague of mine, who every time he saw me would mock the way I talk and walk.”

Leung saw the reaction as ignorant. When decided to come out, he was under no illusion the world would understand or be open-minded about homosexuality.

But the deejay decided to try to challenge others’ views, which he regarded as conservative and outdated.

Leung says coming out as an LGBTQ person is rarely an option, especially for those raised in families who are prejudiced against sexual minorities.

“The road to fight for LGBTQ equality, more often than not, is tiring and lonely, but if people come together, as a whole community we become stronger,” he says.

In a continuation of his efforts for greater acceptance, four years ago, he, former lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan and openly gay artists Anthony Wong Yiu-ming and Denise Ho Wan-sze co-founded Big Love Alliance.

Their hope is to clear a path for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer people to liberate them from all forms of discrimination.

“There are those who struggle with sexuality issues and face various forms of discrimination every day,” explains Leung, who serves as the group’s chief operating officer. “We are here to provide social support to our LGBTQ community and to reduce public bias against and misunderstanding of people with different sexual orientations.”

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Describing heteronormative culture as dominant for centuries, Leung says Big Love Alliance seeks to broaden minds through public education, That mission, he adds, entails encouraging acceptance and embracing of one’s sexuality, and supporting the creation of an inclusive society respectful of human diversity.

Gay rights came under the spotlight this year after Taiwan’s top court backed gay marriage, and more recently, Australia voted in favour of it, too.

With the two preparing legislation to enshrine marriage equality into law, Leung is eager to see Hong Kong follow suit.

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“Love is love,” he says. “Why are we stripped of basic human rights? We pay the same amount of taxes, but we are seen as second-class citizens.”

Leung argues it is unacceptable certain privileges such as hospital visitation and dependent visas are given only to straight couples.

The gay rights activist blasts the government for its unwillingness to recognise the legal status of overseas same-sex marriages, civil partnerships and unions.

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Leung wants the administration to put an end to discriminating against homosexuality by enacting legislation that makes the action illegal.

And as thousands take to the streets for the city’s ninth annual Pride Parade on Saturday, Leung will not only be cheering alongside but among those leading the march.

“The fight to equality will be challenging, especially with opposing groups accusing it of damaging traditional family values,” he says. “But we must not give up until there is change.”