“My Road of Rainbow China”
Founder of Rainbow China
Cheung Kam Hung Kenneth
2013 January 31
You may not know if I don’t tell. Why would I choose to leave Hong Kong and spend more time in Mainland China? It’s not only because of various push factors, there are also pull factors.
Back in 2009, a proposal was submitted by Rainbow of Hong Kong to Council for the AIDS Trust Fund that involved two main parts: (i) The prevention of HIV/AIDS among the MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) and (ii) The promotion of public education on anti-discrimination. However, only the first part was sponsored.
Due to the different opinions on the operations and development of the organization, in the end, it was another founder that picked up the work to manage the “First Community Service Centre for LGBT” .
Identified as a public known Gay Man with HIV/AIDS, I have studied social work, shared in courses of public health, social work, sociology, psychology, general education, religious studies and philosophy among the tertiary institution in Hong Kong, lectured for Social Welfare Department and mainstream social welfare organizations in their social work training. I strongly understand the importance of first-hand experience of a model for the promotion of education.
In fact, since Year 2007, I have been a committee member of Beijing AIZHIXING Institute of Health Education, participating in various work meetings and summer camps, sharing the work experience LGBT in Hong Kong with friends in China HIV/AIDS CBO Network. I see huge needs in Mainland China.
Recently, as one of the guest speakers in Civil Society Visiting Fellow Program of Civil Society of Centre for Civil Society Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong, I have a chance to communicate with visiting scholars from different places. My sense of mission is strengthened, hoping to contribute to the promotion of civil society in Mainland China.
Coincidently, two persons-in-charge of Gay and Lesbian Campus Association from Guangzhou, who has visited different NGOs in Hong Kong, allowed me to have a better understanding on how the new generation in Mainland China is keen to promote sex education and community work on campus positively. They need the sharing of experiences and practical support.
Therefore, I went to Guangzhou, visited various friendly organizations in order to initiate collaborations in the following period.
Without a funding body, there is no office and waged-employee. I tried to take up some freelances jobs (in catering), travelling between Hong Kong and Guangzhou in my spare time. Since Guangzhou is near to Hong Kong, the transportation and accommodation fees are affordable.
I started giving lectures about HIV/AIDS and LGBT in various tertiary institutions such as Sun Yat-sen University, South China University of Technology, South China Normal University, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, South China Agricultural University and Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.
Between 2009~2010, I was out of Hong Kong for a few days each month, mainly in Guangdong areas. I was a guest speaker in the Public Selected Courses of Gender Studies that was jointly developed by Friends Steam and Associated Gay/Les Campus, occasionally Queer Film Festival in Beijing, Shenyang and the International Happy Life Conference in Taiwan.
Rainbow China and AIZHIXING jointly organized the Hong Kong Pride Parade Activities Camp 2009, sponsored about 30 representatives of HIV/AIDS prevention organizations from various regions to Hong Kong, participated the equal right activities and exchange conferences.
In the summer of 2011, I was sponsored generously by Rev. Oyoung Wen Feng. I visited Guangzhou and Chengdu with him to share in local LGBT organizations, not only on the topic of LGBT equal rights and HIV/AIDS prevention, but also on Christianity and relationship between same sex partners.
Following that, I have stayed behind and visited Chongqing at my own cost for the exchange with two local LGBT organizations there.
In November, I was invited by AIZHIXING to visit Zhengzhou, Nanjing and Wuhan for the sharing and training among local student organizations.
My time involved in Mainland China has increased to 1/3 of my time.In the past two years, as a guest speaker for “Photosynthesis” Youth Leadership of Campus Project Phase I and II organized by Associated Gay/Les Campus, I am pleased to meet with young people in universities who are devoted to develop the community for LGBT wholeheartedly.
I also have been invited or initiated to visit Shenzhen, Changsha, Nanchang and Wuhan, etc. supporting and supervising their campus developmental work.
Also, Macao Educational and Youth Affairs Bureau has invited me to share with local teachers, social workers and campus doctors in the past two years. I got some feedbacks during the training. Now, I do my best to arrange my boyfriend to accompany with me to have sharing together. Due to his presence, everyone feel easy and natural to reduce the fear of HIV/AIDS (because the one who have intimacy with PLWHA (People living with HIV/AIDS) have not been infected), meanwhile, it enhances the better understanding and acceptance of LGBT.
From 2012 onward, my time in Mainland China has increased by 2/3. Due to the increasing frequencies of lectures and trips, I cannot hold a part-time job anymore. I start to rely on the speaker fee, author’s remuneration and donation from friends to maintain my basic life. Special acknowledgement to Mr Martin and his Barry & Martin’s Trust for the support.
In August, I was employed by Aibai Chengdu LGBT Youth Centre temporarily. There were 21 activities within 29 days, including the salon, seminars, volunteer training workshops of various themes, also a four-session growth group for Gay men and six-session support group for PLWHA, and seminars in hospitals. Apart from the online outreaching consultation, more than 10 cases of interviews (including gay couples) are settled. Almost 100 MSM are contacted with good harvest. It inspires my work in the future.
In September, I visited Fujian for a week with Henry Lan, a co-worker of Taiwan Lourdes Association who has also been HIV positive for 10 years. We have shared with those who are infected among Fuzhou, Xiamen and Quanzhou and carried out an exchange and training in Greater China.
After the Hong Kong Pride Parade 2012 in November, I went to Shandong. I stayed in Jinan for two weeks, a series of salon, seminar, training workshop and support group for LGBT and PLWHA with various topics were held in Laiocheng and Dezhou.
Before and after World AIDS Day, I travelled from Nanjing to Changsha, Zhuhai, Xiushui, Jiujiang and Nanchang; before and after New Year Eve, I went from Guangzhou to Wuhan, Beijing and Shanghai.
A series of non-stop activities were held, including interviewed by media, a few seminars in a high school arranged by Dongjen Book Club; exchange and training among student communities as well as a festival celebration with the PLWHA.
Enlightened by Ahui, a PLWHA of Taiwan, I organized “Free Hugs for HIV/AIDS” with volunteers from Rainbow of Hong Kong in the street of Causeway Bay on the night of 1 December (World AIDS Day) in the consecutive three years since 2007.
With the setting up of Rainbow China, I determine to go to at least one province to promote such anti-discrimination activities, including 2010 in Guangzhou, 2011 in Wuhan and 2012 in Nanjing. One the Christmas Eve of 2011, free hug activity was held in Nanchang with local PLWHA, Liu Jiulong; similar free hug was held on 5 January 2013 in Xiamen International Marathon.
We have mobilized some young volunteers to participate every time, and they have received a positive report from media, spreading out the message of equality, love and concern.