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Out in the World: Hong Kong
Lesbian travails from around the globe!

 

by Emma Gale

 

July is Hong Kong’s hottest and wettest month. Whether rain is falling from the actual sky or not, people who don’t look up from the sidewalk may be fooled by the pitter patter of drops from air conditioners. People here are wedded to their air conditioners, and the relationship has born a city shaped around malls. Hong Kongers eat at fancy restaurants inside malls, spend holidays shopping in malls, and glide to and from their offices on escalators and subways wielded to malls.

 

Tubes and tunnels, escalators and shopping, heat and moisture; what I’m trying to say is that Hong Kong is strongly vaginal. It’s fertile terrain for lesbians and bisexuals.

 

At least, that’s what was on my mind one recent Saturday night, when I was floating on an outdoor escalator spanning several city blocks uphill towards a private party thrown by a queer women’s social club called Les Peches.

 

The district I was in, Lan Kwai Fung, is populated on weekdays mostly by lonely white businessmen standing around with drinks in hand. Days before, two guy friends and I had wound up at a bar here with no other women in sight. And it wasn’t a gay bar. Men in suits were standing around watching a mournful cover band play U2’s “One” and other songs they had all heard 100 times.

 

The party I was headed to on Saturday was just a few blocks away, but its mood was miles from those desperate and lonely businessmen. I knew I’d found the right building when I saw the Les Peches insignia on a poster on the door—a cartoon of a punk woman with hard nipples showing through a crop top. An elevator whisked me up and opened into a room, where a platinum blonde named Betty greeted me, the most sincerely friendly person I met over three weeks Hong Kong. She was from France, and she asked for my $20 cover.

 

My cell in hand, I made my way to my friend in the back of the room, where we eventually wound up in the conversation about The L Word, of course.

 

But first, we surveyed the room. The theme was medical fetish. Nearby, a tall Eurasian in surgical scrubs delivered tequila shots through a syringe. A pole in the corner went unused for erotic purposes, only leaned against. The music was familiar, from Kelis’ “Milkshake” to Amy Winehouse.

 

The women were mostly Asian, maybe only five percent white, most of them dressed boyishly or girlishly in the Hong Kong trend: shirt dresses, leggings, and Converse. I was feeling awkward for not being able to tell how old they were, when my Asian American friend Sam echoed my thoughts: “It’s hard to say because Asian people age so well, but they look like they’re in their early 20s to mid-30s maybe.”

 

Not surprisingly, we eventually found ourselves talking about The L Word. She told me about her Malaysian friend who moved to Los Angeles because of the show, and came out after being closeted for all her life. Now she is living her dream, and making it as an interior designer.

 

Most of the women at this Les Peches party bar didn’t wear the queer flag on their sleeve. Many were just exploring. A Hong Kong native, who described herself as bisexual—“about six women, four men”—and marketed champagne and other luxury goods for a living, went by a Polish first and last name. She emailed me later under the email address of her queer alter ego.

 

“They’re probably not out to their parents,” a Hong Kong native named Sarah speculated about most girls in the room. “Even if they came out to their parents, parents would deny it. At the end of the day, it’s how well your kids are doing. And if your kids are gay, you don’t talk about it.”

 

Even Abby, who, with her French partner Betty, launched Les Peches, is half out: not at work, but out to her Hong Kong family.

 

“There are no lesbian clubs in Hong Kong,” Abby said. “What people do is go to karaoke. But the problem is, you can’t dance, and you don’t meet people in karaoke. We don’t like karaoke. So we said, “Why don’t we just create a party ourselves? We throw them at least once a month.”

 

Good thing they had. After a few hours, a girl named Hoi offered to walk me to the bus station. Down the elevator, right outside the door, we ran across a drunk woman clad in a spray-on tube top, Daisy Dukes, and stilettos, stumbling down the sidewalk alone, clutching an ice cream bar in one hand. I felt lucky to have found Les Peches that night.

 

Are you a writer with a story about lesbian life in your city, town, county or hamlet? If you'd like to contribute to our travels series Out in the World, email us at staff@lesbianation.com.

 

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