In Hong Kong, a gay dating show aims to break down LGBT+ barriers

HONG KONG (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) – Part LGBT+ dating show, part documentary, a reality television series soon to air in Hong Kong will give a rare portrayal of the complexities of being gay in Chinese society, its producer said.

Actor Vinci Wong, 51, will also be presenting the “Boyscation” show, which he said would follow 10 men aged in their 20s and 30s who are all from different backgrounds but “really proud of being gay”.

“I want to portray the thinking of these gay men and what society thinks of them,” Wong told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

“What are the hardships they are facing? How do they face their own gay identity within the family, at work or within friends, and in the Chinese society?”

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Hong Kong in 1991 and the age of consent equalised in 2006, but LGBT+ rights are still contested in the city of more than 7 million, which is designated a special administrative region of China.

Same-sex marriage and civil unions remain unrecognised, though public attitudes towards homosexuality are generally seen as more progressive in Hong Kong than in mainland China.

Wong, who came out as gay in 2013 and married his partner in 2016 – making him one of few openly LGBT+ public figures in Hong Kong, said he hoped the show would help change traditional attitudes about sexuality.

“I hope after watching, they can realise this is the reality, these young gay men are living in the same city as us, so we should be more accepting,” he said of the series, which will be broadcast on Hong Kong’s TVB television network.

Louis Ng, one of the 10 participants, said taking part in the programme had helped to improve his relationship with his father, whom he came out to shortly before filming.

“I have a better relationship with my dad because of the show,” said Ng, 26. “It’s a great way to let people think about how to coexist with minorities in society.”

While billed mainly as a dating show, Ng said “Boyscation” also depicts gay Hong Kongers going about their daily lives, including working, playing sports and spending time with their families.

“After watching the show, straight people will think,’They’re the same as us’. Dating, love, relationships – it’s the same as for straight people as well. Love is love.”

Filming of the 20-episode series is mostly finished and expected to conclude in early December, with the show airing in late 2021 or early 2022, Wong said.

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