Giving a voice to the LGBT+ community in China
With the Amsterdam Pride in full swing, it’s the perfect moment to take a look at some developments in the LGBT+ community in China. We talk with Luke, one of the initiators of LGBT+ platform Gayspot and our Policy Officer Maarten Heetderks.
It’s like it was just yesterday, as Luke reminisces about his motivation to start Gayspot. Already during university he became active in the LGBT-rights community. Together with a team and support of another NGO, he set up the Gayspot platform. By now, Gayspot is one of the leading LGBT magazines in China, sharing articles on their website and social media channels. As Luke explains: “It is of the utmost importance to give a voice to the community.”
When Luke started his journey there was little information about the LGBT-lifestyle. One of the only topics which was discussed was HIV-checkups. “As such, many people were unfamiliar with the subject of LGBT. There was no reporting on the topic and people often married anyway. We write articles about everything, ranging from culture to lifestyle to equality. By sharing people’s stories we’ve managed to realize more awareness. Awareness doesn’t equal support, but it’s a first step,” says Luke.
Funding & finding stories
The challenges were twofold: finding people willing to share their stories and finding funding: “We started as a platform, but how to find financial support and engage people? That’s why we started writing in-depth stories and articles, it really helped us gain footing. On the one hand, it helped inspire others to share their stories. On the other hand, it helped us receive funding from news websites and other partners.”
Enabling future generations
To hold onto this momentum, Gayspot also invests in enabling future generations to share their stories. After all, “they are the voice of the future”, as Luke says. Through initiatives such as the Gayspot Academy the younger generation is involved. As the magazine focuses on topics such as culture, interests and lifestyle, involving young people to share their own stories and training them to become professionals is essential. “This is really at the heart of Dutch policy: enabling people to speak out and facilitate dialogue,” explains Maarten.
Together with partners Gayspot also hosts public advocacy events to share the communities voice. “For instance, during IDAHOT in May we hosted a photo exhibition at several locations, including the Dutch Embassy, with pictures and stories from members of the LGBT-community. Our key aim is to make sure people feel comfortable and supported. That’s also what touches me the most in this work. Sharing stories that can really change someone’s life. Changing your destiny and helping other people do the same is a story that will never stop inspiring”, Luke concludes.