For pride month, we had the opportunity to interview entrepreneur Gary Kwok. With this personal story, we were able to take a peek into Gary’s life and asked him a series of questions about being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Where were you born and where do you currently live?
“I was born and raised in London and have lived in Hong Kong on and off for the last 11 years. My Dad is originally from here so by this point it’s where I call home.”
Tell us about your work?
“My background is mainly in Marketing and Communications. I’ve worked in everything from aerospace/defence engineering to high-end luxury/lifestyle brands. At the moment, I am busy setting up my own business to help SME’s gain a foothold in the Asian market. It’s really exciting stuff and I’m looking forward to see where this takes me…watch this space.”
What are some common public perceptions of the LGBTQ+ community in Asia?
“I am very lucky to have grown up and live in a society that is well educated, open minded and very accepting of many different cultures. In general, attitudes are changing around the world and there has been a lot of education around acceptance and representation of LGBTQ+ communities with many major steps taken to equality. That being said, there are still some common misconceptions that happen pretty often".
So, who’s the boy and who’s the girl?
"Not knowing what pronouns to use…c’mon guys. Assuming all gays are fabulous and feminine and all lesbians are butch tomboys…not true. Older generations refusing to believe/respect that you don’t like the opposite sex and keep trying to set you up with random people’s kids (although I know this comes from a good place most of the time but Suzie ain’t got a chance). Being gay isn’t some ‘big thing’ once you’re out the closet, it’s just one part of who you are. How can we get others to be more open minded about the LGBTQ+ community? Taking simple steps to be more considerate of others is always a good place to start in all aspects of society. It’s important to respect other people’s life choices so be respectful and don’t impose your own beliefs or agendas. More generally, encouraging an open and honest environment where people feel free to express themselves. If you’re curious about something, just ask! Everyone likes talking about themselves.”
In what ways can we support the LGBTQ+ community?
“I think it really goes back to education and exposure. The LGBTQ+ community are gaining more representation in media and everyday life, this serves as a really great starting point to have more in depth conversations about the issues that an LGBTQ+ individual can face in modern society. We’ve come so far in terms of equality and representation; our marriages are being recognised in more and more countries. Taking steps to actively support equality and create a better tomorrow would be amazing! Vote in favour of equality, sign the petitions, join the parades, watch the shows, all of this goes towards making a world where people are comfortable to be themselves and feel safe at the same time.
One big thing that is specific to Hong Kong right now is health equality. Did you know that there are many church affiliated hospitals that do not provide potentially lifesaving anti-HIV treatments?
PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis) is a 4-week course of medication that can greatly reduce chances of HIV infection if taken within 24-72 hours after exposure.
PEP is a vital tool in the fight against AIDS and is notoriously hard to get a hold of in Hong Kong. Hospitals will refuse to provide assistance for what are considered to be ‘non-heterosexual’ issues and the clinics that do stock it, charge upwards of 20K. This price skyrockets on the weekend when it is most needed (don’t forget that 24-72-hour treatment window).
It is not an expensive medication and making it prohibitively expensive for most people is in effect a death sentence if you cannot afford the pricey lifetime of care not to mention the distress.
This is an underserved issue and something I would like to rally for change against.”
What and who are your inspirations?
“Of course, there are the usual suspects like Martin Luther King, Elon Musk and Beyoncé, but I am most inspired by people that I personally know.
I am part of an amazing community and see people stand tall and flourish no matter what their background, whether it be strong powerful business women or gender bender androgynous individuals just being what they are, inside and out.
Seeing people around me, pushing every day to manifest the best version of their true selves and seeing the results. This just goes to prove that anything is possible if you can muster the strength of character and invest in yourself.”
What would you like for the LGBTQ+ community to accomplish?
“I can’t wait till we reach the point where we don’t need the LGBTQ+ label anymore and we are all just people, equal and accepted. Thanks to all of the hard work, suffering and sacrifice of countless individuals over many decades, this is a day that I can see happening sooner rather than later.”
Lastly, give us a fun fact about yourself!
“As confident as I may seem, I’m actually pretty shy.”Pride month might be coming to an end, but our full support for the community still stands strong. We would like to give a big thank you to, our friend, Gary Kwok for giving us the opportunity to get to know him better. Make sure to check out Gary’s Instagram @garykwok1988!