“This is very personal and private, but I’ve told you everything.” Old Chan thus gives voice to the attitude expressed in all thirteen stories told in this intimate oral history of life at the margins of Hong Kong society, stories punctuated by laughter, joy, happiness, and pride, as well as tears, anger, remorse, shame, and guilt.
Illustrated with photos, letters, and other images, Oral Histories of Older Gay Men in Hong Kong: Unspoken but Unforgotten gives voice to the complexities of a “secretive” past with unique hardships as these men came to terms with their sexuality, adulthood, and a colonial society. The men talk with equal candour about how their sexuality remains a complication as they negotiate failing health, ageing, and their current role in society.
While fascinating as life histories, these stories also add insight to the theoretical debates surrounding identity and masculinity, coming out, ageing and sexuality, and power and resistance. Confined within the heteronormative culture prescribed by government, family, and religion, these men have lived the whole of their lives struggling to find their social role, challenging the distinction between public and private, and longing for a stable homosexual relationship and a liberating homosexual space in the face of deteriorating health and a youth-obsessed gay community.
Travis Kong is a leading sociologist of Chinese sexuality with a specialization in masculinity, homosexuality, and male prostitution. He is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Hong Kong, co-editor of Sexualities, and the author of Chinese Male Homosexualities: Memba, Tongzhi and Golden Boy.