1 min

Hong Kong’s Queer Sisters

BE BITCHY. The best part of writer Julia Steinecke’s trip to Hong Kong was doing a guest stint on the Queer Sisters radio program with Eunice Au. Credit: Image by Xtra files

“Be bitchy!” Eunice Au tells us as we go on the air. We scream, “Queer Sisters’ chatroom!” first in Cantonese, then in English.

For a flash I marvel at the circumstances that have brought me here to record this show at Radio Republic amid the towering skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island.

A month earlier, while planning my trip, I found the website and followed the links to Hong Kong’s Queer Sisters. Au answered my e-mail query and gave me her phone number.

Now she’s leading me and four fetching Hong Kong dykes in a lively bilingual conversation. We talk about lesbian life in Canada, discrimination and censorship. The Queer Sisters explain how homophobia hits women harder than men in Hong Kong. There’s more chance of getting fired from your job and less chance of getting a new job, especially if you’re over 35.

After the show we retire to the latest gal-pal hangout, a café called Two Rooms. Here the sisters ply me with cheesecake while we fire nosy questions across the table.

“Where do you do it?” is my first question. Hong Kong is densely populated and most people live in tiny apartments with extended families. The answer: sometimes they borrow the apartment of a rich friend who lives with less people. Or, they plan a getaway to Lamma Island. My eyes widen: Lamma is the idyllic outpost where I scored a cheap hotel room for my stay.

I fish for more info. Holding hands in public is safe here as long as you don’t interlace your fingers. Two women can live together and draw no suspicions, but it’s generally not affordable. The gay and lesbian community has lots of activities and meeting places, the latest being a gay cyber café. I just missed the Hong Kong Lesbian And Gay Film and Video Festival. Pride Day is held but attendance is low because the price of being out is high.

Au repeats what she said to one of the many straight journalists sent to interview her about queer issues. “If I love a woman it will not cause you pain, it will not take a chunk of meat off your arm, it will not cause you to lose money or die. So why should you give a fuck? Let us live our lives.”