Students for gay rights

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A group of HK PolyU student animators tell Arthur Tam they were inspired to produce a video in support of gay rights
to help educate others

It may seem strange but, even in today’s society, some people don’t understand why Hong Kong’s gay community is fighting for human rights equality. Over the past few months, there have been protests for and against the possibility of the government running a public consultation on the SAR’s sexual orientation discrimination laws. The consultation would allow a serious discussion to commence so a compromise can be met. But that doesn’t look like happening in the near future after Chief Executive CY Leung failed to mark it down in his recent policy address. So how do you help those people who don’t understand the fight to, well, understand the fight?
You make an educational video. In light of all the events we’ve seen so far this year, a group of seven bright young minds who are in their final year at Hung Hom’s Hong Kong Polytechnic University (or PolyU, as it’s better known) have put together a video called Understanding Gay Equality in Five Minutes as a way to answer all those concerns people might have regarding homosexuality.

The video, made for The Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong, is articulate, concise colourful and skillfully animated, with a number of clever depictions of the trials and tribulations that have traditionally faced – and still face – the LGBT community in our city. “Our initial plan for the content was to have it in a Q&A format,” says one of the animators, Leung Ho-ki. “We asked a bunch of our friends and family about the questions they would have regarding homosexuality. We took the best and most common ones and gave answers to them in the video.”

Surprisingly, all the students in the group – all in their early 20s – are straight themselves. They took on the topic, according to another team member, Ho Cheuk-Hin, because they thought ‘it would be a challenge, a risk and a good opportunity to open up our creativity’. “We were also curious because we don’t have many ‘member’ (gay) friends nor do we come across homosexual topics very often,” says Ho.

The goal for the team was to put out a well-animated, solid product that would stimulate social awareness. Though their video has been met with mostly positive responses, the ‘haters ‘on YouTube, as team member Cheung Yin-kwan describes, put out messages like ‘disgusting ‘or ‘homosexuality is unnatural’. “We think a lot of anti-gay sentiments stem from a lack of knowledge,” says Cheung, “which is why we wanted to put the knowledge out there. Some people are still afraid to share their opinions on the topic because they still have a conservative Chinese background.” Cheung is referring to older people there. For her generation and those who are younger, she says: “We are obviously more accepting than the older generations.”

When it comes down to the question of bullying in schools, Leung says: “It’s usually fine in colleges. College students are more mature but the problem is in middle school and high school. Through our research, younger students still have the mentality of majority over minority. People naturally think if there is less of something it must be unnatural. This is a flaw in our education system. We also found that other countries have already legalised gay rights without affecting freedom of speech for others. So it’s silly that people in Hong Kong think it’s a concern.”

It may be comforting for LGBT community members to know that these seven young adults are in some way aiding the human rights cause. They say they don’t think homosexuality should simply be labelled as a ‘problem’. “When it comes to topics like sexuality or anything in life,” says Cheung, “we shouldn’t make things too absolute.” A lesson indeed. 

Check out the Poly U video at students' video at bit.ly/5minutestogay.

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