Gay Games Paris 2018 gold can help battle discrimination in Hong Kong, says tennis player Laurie Yu
The lawyer hopes representing the territory in August will help it live up to its cosmopolitan name
Hong Kong has four years to ditch discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community or risk losing money as it prepares for the Gay Games, said one tennis player as he builds up to the same event in Paris.
Laurie Yu will represent Hong Kong in tennis and table tennis in the Gay Games in Paris this coming August.
“I have high expectations for my tennis,” he said. “But it’s our participation that will raise the profile so hopefully others will be brave enough to come out and support us when it’s in Hong Kong [in 2022].”
Hong Kong lawyer Yu is targeting a gold medal in tennis, but has concentrated less on his table tennis preparation. In November, he won the doubles at the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance competition in Hong Kong, so he is no newbie to competing at the highest level.
It is not the competition that worries Yu, but the culture in Hong Kong.
“We hear that Hong Kong is Asia’s world city, but there are still things that have set us back in terms of LGBT rights,” he said.
“A lot of people already face discrimination and have to hide their [orientation] to appease others,” Yu said. “We have four years to change otherwise Hong Kong will risk losing a lot of foreign investment [via the Gay Games].”
Yu believes sporting events can be a powerful tool to dismantle prejudice.
“Sport is a level playing field,” he said. “You are not judged for who you are. There is a camaraderie that breaks down barriers and we want that camaraderie in all aspects of life.”
Yu has not only national pride on the line, though, but also family bragging rights.
His husband Tim Coldman is competing in the 10 kilometre, 5km and half-marathon race in Paris.
“If I come back with a medal I’ll expect the same of him,” Yu said. “Otherwise he’ll be in for a bit of a ribbing.”