Featured in our September/October 2018 issue of Compete Magazine

At the Paris 2018 Gay Games, team “Out in HK” had a large presence at the international multi-sport event. With dozens of athletes from all over Asia represented on the team, it was the largest contingent of Asian athletes in the history of Gay Games. And with Hong Kong being the next site of the Gay Games in 2022, they made the most of their large representation to raise excitement for their hosting debut.

Sporting their Out in HK T shirts, carrying flags, stickers and buttons for Hong Kong 2022, Dennis and his team took time to chat with people and spread the word about the 2022 Gay Games. During the closing ceremony’s passing of the flag they even incorporated a Chinese cultural routine to celebrate the handover and give us a hint as to what to expect in 2022.

Dennis Philipse has taken the lead for Hong Kong’s winning bid to host the 2022 Gay Games. Bidding against eight other world cities, Hong Kong is the first and only Asian city that has ever bid, making it a milestone for the Asian LGBTQ+ community. Part of the bid included 36 events that will take place, including Dragon Boating, Trail Running and Tower Run ICC.

Hosting an event on the scale of Gay Games is not an easy task. Paris 2018 had over 10,000 registered participants and thousands of athletic supporters, officials, coaches, media representatives, partners and sponsors. The amount of people in attendance at such an event can easily exceed 40,000 people. The 2022 host committee are currently expecting up to 15,000 participants and 25,000 spectators.

But it’s definitely a task a city the size and popularity of Hong Kong can handle. The former British colony is one of the world’s largest, most diverse cities. As a major port and with a booming economy thanks to it being a global financial hub, Hong Kong has invested in itself well to have the capability to host thousands, if not millions of visitors from all over the world on any given day.

China and other Asian countries aren’t exactly known for LGBTQ+ acceptance and inclusivity which Dennis explained was one of his prime motivations for bringing the Games to Hong Kong. While many residents of the city hold favorable views of the LGBTQ+ community, the laws still reflect the cultural influences of traditional Chinese values and old colonial views against homosexuality.

The Gay Games mission, values and history of bringing LGBTQ+ awareness, education and acceptance to its host communities is well established. By bringing that Gay Games reputation and power to China using the slogan Unity in Diversity, it’s hoped to bring a strong influence and positive impact for the Asian LGBTQ+ community.

Out in HK’s biggest challenge is building an LGBTQ+ sports community capable of hosting such a large-scale event, ensuring that they have the required experience and training to successfully organize the 15,000+ athletes expected in 2022. But it is a challenge that Dennis and his team have already undertaken and continue to work on. Learn more about Gay Games Hong Kong 2022 at www.gaygameshk2022.com

By Dirk Smith