When Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in May 2019, Hong Kong’s LGBT community celebrated with them. Recent years have seen wins in court for same-sex couples’ rights, and Hong Kong won the bid to host the Gay Games in November 2022.
Besides being sporty, Hong Kong’s LGBT population is a lively, proud, determined, and increasingly visible one, particularly during the annual Pink Dot, a joyful carnival, concert, and show of solidarity with everyone dressed in pink. Other LGBT-friendly events include the jubilant gay junk boat party, Floatilla, November’s annual Pride Parade, and the popular Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, where international filmmakers come into town to screen their work.
HKLGFF director Joe Lam also heads up Hong Kong’s long-running bilingual gay magazine, Dim Sum, which is worth checking out for updates and happenings when you visit.
Hong Kong’s trailblazing gay disco, Propaganda, closed after an impressive 25-year run in 2016, but a year later dance club Petticoat Lane—located near expat party zone Lan Kwai Fong—opened to help sop up the crowds like a biscuit does gravy. Drag queens perform Tuesday through Sunday nights at midnight, while Wednesday is the liveliest weeknight in town thanks to free-flowing vodka drinks from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Billed as an “all-inclusive, judgment free” space, everyone is welcome to dance the night away.
Central’s sloping, stone Pottinger Street and its slightly raised “steps” may be treacherous to navigate, so stick to the narrow sidewalk before and after a few drinks at this ultra LGBT-friendly bar. Like Petticoat Lane, LinQ offers a complimentary hour of vodka and gin-based beverages on Wednesdays, and crowds tend to spill out into the street during busier nights.
Some locals joke they left the “T” off the “WINK,” given the crowd at this club-styled Sheung Wan bar. Lithe and fit young folks aside, WINK’s intended emphasis is on tasty specialty cocktails, some incorporating perfumed teas. Stop by for complimentary canapés during happy hour on Wednesdays, karaoke after 12:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and live music one Saturday a month. For cozier yet still chic surroundings and cocktails, check out the nearby T:ME Bar.
Sheung Wan’s gay disco Volume Beat has literally left the building, but new occupant FLM keeps the party going with DJ-driven dance tunes, drag queens, and space to kiki. June 2019 saw FLM join the “free vodka Wednesdays” trend, with a little drag (Cleo Moans and Clemonade are part of FLM’s house talent) and shirtless men on the side. While the ground level is filled with booty shakers, an upstairs space is tailored for socializing and people watching. FLM’s calendar is also filled with RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties, bingo, and karaoke.
You won’t find honey at this Kowloon bear habitat. Instead, the bears indigenous to this Asian metropolis (as in husky, often fuzzy, queer men) are all about indulging in karaoke. Expect to hear a lot of sappy Cantopop ballads from golden-voiced bears, chubs, slender “chasers," and friends (including women!). Plus, you'll find reasonably priced drinks, snacks, and adorable bear bartenders of all ages. Not into warbling? Come on last Saturdays for dancing instead.
Located in Tsim Sha Tsui East, this five-year-old bar is where the girls and masculine-identifying “Toms” are. L’Paradis is a friendly, social place, offering a handful of modern tech dart boards, dancing, and drinking games like beer pong.
Sheung Wan is the closest Hong Kong gets to a Castro district, and the 10-year-old Zoo Bar has become one of its most dependable, enduring go-tos (and is conveniently just steps away from LFM). While predominantly male and Asian, Zoo’s regulars range in type from twinks to bears, and in June 2019 the dark-windowed venue launched a “Topless & Harness Party,” adding a bit of fetish into the mix.
Causeway Bay has not only a buzzing and young LGBT bar, it has one with an amazing 22nd floor view. The frequently shirtless Asian bartenders are hunky, drink specials are ridiculously inexpensive, and signature cocktail offerings include a Grapefruit Mojito and frosty Five Green (with green apple, cucumber, and mint). And despite being quite roomy, the place gets jammed on weekends.
Canada-born chef May Chow made a major splash in Hong Kong’s foodie scene in 2013 when she opened Soho’s Little Bao, serving innovative and mouthwatering Chinese bao burgers. Named Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2017, Chow is also one of the city’s few openly LGBT kitchen stars. Since relocating to youthful Causeway Bay, Little Bao remains Chow’s mothership, but be sure to also check out her neon-illuminated Happy Paradise for playfully delicious “Neo-Chinese” creations.
Middle Bay Beach
Beaches pepper the south of Hong Kong Island, including a compact, LGBT-favorite stretch of sand between South Bay Beach and Repulse Bay Beach. While not as convenient to access as its neighbors, it is blissfully less peopled, and it’s only a 15-minute-walk north to Repulse Bay’s cafés and restaurants, shops, and public Wi-Fi hotspot.
Gay French expat Arnault Castel founded this hip Hong Kong micro-chain of intensely curated lifestyle shops (think Opening Ceremony and Monocle, but far more approachable) over ten years ago. From footwear and T-shirts to magazines and artisanal chocolate bars, there’s plenty to browse. Check out the location at PMQ, a complex of eclectic shops, restaurants, bars, cafés, and creative incubators.
Hong Kong’s first member of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association, the Jordan district’s Eaton has a lot going on beyond accommodations. Inclusive and progressive, Eaton dedicates spaces to contemporary artwork, film screenings, performances, and local indie concerts. It even has an “activist in residence” program at the adjacent Eaton House, which offers office space, resources, and accommodations for international activists. Of course, we’d be remiss to mention Eaton’s excellent culinary offerings and acclaimed fourth floor bar, terrace, and music venue, Terrible Baby.
Get a colorful taste of Hong Kong’s history and future at this former Central Police Headquarters compound, which was transformed into a center for heritage and arts in 2018. Tai Kwun features a major contemporary art venue, plus excellent restaurants and cafés, design and arts-related shops, and a couple of notable drinking spots, including the cheekily named—and extremely LGBT-friendly—Behind Bars.
The walls of Roshan Melwani’s compact, unassuming Tsim Sha Tsui store are covered with a "Who's Who" of celebrities and LGBT icons being fitted, including Kylie Minogue, George Michael, David Bowie, and Karl Lagerfeld. Ideally, plan on two fittings and 72 hours for turnaround, and bring along photos for reference if you're seeking a particular style.
Afternoon tea is a beloved institution in Hong Kong, and the LGBT-friendly luxury hotel chain’s flagship is home to one of the most outstanding. In fact, the hotel’s restaurants, cake shop, spa, salon, and barber shop are regular haunts for both locals and visitors of all sexualities, especially on romantic occasions. Famously, Hong Kong’s first openly queer icon, actor-singer Leslie Cheung, was a member of the MO fitness center. Sadly, he also committed suicide here, jumping from a 24th floor balcony in 2003, and fans still commemorate anniversaries of his death by coming by and leaving flowers.