Singer and LGBTI activist Anthony Wong Yiu-ming on not being an icon
Singer Anthony Wong Yiu-ming is a defiant voice for LGBTI rights in Hong Kong. He famously came out in 2012, on stage in the middle of a concert. Ahead of Pink Dot, he talks to Xavier Ng about coming out and why he speaks up for minorities.
I was born this way. I didn’t have to join the LGBTI community or become part of it. I’ve been part of it since I was born. It’s not a lifestyle choice.
Most people know about me coming out in my concert in 2012, but to my friends and family, I was out long before that. Many of my songs directly or indirectly reference LGBTI issues.
To me, coming out in public was just a small step, but to many others it might be a big one.
I decided to take the step because there are still people in society who think [being gay] is an issue.
I wanted to demystify it, and I wanted to use the simplest language to tell everyone on stage, once and for all.
I think my coming out has changed some people’s minds [towards the community].
I didn’t realize this small step could have such a big effect.
I’m glad I made the decision to come out that night.
For a public figure to walk on stage to tell everyone he’s gay... the impact is very different from people just assuming you’re gay.
I founded BigLove Alliance in early 2013. Back then we were fighting for the legislation of the Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance (SODO), but the government decided it wasn’t urgent and they didn’t need to put it forward for public consultation. The government is condoning discrimination against sexual minorities.
That’s why a few of us decided to form BigLove Alliance, hoping to be a pressure group to push forward topics about sexual minorities and the LGBTI community.
We are furious because this had been delayed for so many years already, and there is so much blatant discrimination happening out there in society.
Society has been moving forward. Back then our Pride parades were very small.
But in the past few years, there have been a lot more people joining and they are no longer shy about it.
We’ve also started Pink Dot, and there are a lot more events for the LGBTI community in Hong Kong.
People are not afraid to step out and show they are members of the LGBTI community—they may not be coming out on stage, but one or two decades ago people wouldn’t even want to participate in public events that would imply they were gay.
The most important thing is that there are non-LGBTI people willing to join us and participate in our events like Pink Dot and Pride Parade. We call them our straight allies.
Research shows that society is very accepting towards the LGBTI community.
Even on more specific issues such as same-sex marriage, support is very high amongst young people.
You can tell society is changing, but the government has to take the lead and make laws to give sexual minorities the rights they deserve.
Hong Kong is in such a complicated state right now and it’s changing so quickly. I don’t know what will happen next year.
But as long as we’re united, it will gradually get better.
I think that I, as a public figure, have certain responsibilities.
I’ve been outspoken because I think this is a gift from above.
I have the platform, I have the crowd base, so I should utilize it. Not everyone has that.
I’ve never thought about being a “gay icon,” because it’s not important to me. I don’t do what I do to be an icon.
As long as I think it’s the right thing to do, I’ll do it.