Forever Pride: Passion-Led Resilience to the Cause
I count myself as a very lucky gay man. Born in Hong Kong, raised in Taiwan, Japan and Canada, educated in the United States and having worked in multiple world cities, I have had the distinct privilege to witness and more importantly benefit from the progress made in LGBT+ rights across the world. Being a gay global citizen has certainly opened my eyes and fueled my passion to give back.
This was one of the primary factors for my founding the Better Together Foundation when I turned 35, a private nonprofit organization dedicated to three core pillars: HIV advocacy, LGBT+ youth empowerment and Pride and community initiatives. In 2018, our work has directly impacted more than 100 individuals across six counties in Asia Pacific.
This year, in 2019, I was humbled by and accepted the invitation by the office of his Excellency Mr. Justin Trudeau to march with him during Toronto Pride, which is Canada’s largest celebration of the year. As a proud Canadian, an immigrant and a #gaypreneur, it served to remind me that if you learn to fall in love with the cause, you will always adapt the solution to the changing times and ensuring positive outcomes.
Currently, I reside in Asia and conduct most of my businesses out of Hong Kong. Compared to Canada and the United States, Asia is a beautiful combination of 10+ distinct countries and culture. Within this pluralistic rich fabric, there is no one easy way to fight for and secure equality for LGBT+ individuals.
Never one to be turned off by challenges, my team has adopted a lean and mean development structure reinforced by constant feedback loops and flexible deployment of capital to claim strongholds of various degrees in each country. Thailand: PReP education. Philippines: HIV testing. South Korea: mental health. Vietnam: employment counseling. Malaysia: religious protection. The list goes on.
Many people have asked me where I find the drive to keep going despite all the fundamental challenges presented in the region we work in. My answer is the same for those asking me why Global Citizen Capital and its fund focusing on regenerative medicine keeps me excited about life. It is no longer about making a billion dollars, but positively impacting a billion lives.
By the end of 2019, the goal with our strategic partners is to set up Asia’s first LGBT+ empowerment society so that we can combine the resources availed to all and work synergistically towards supporting common goals. As we like to say, it is impossible to break 50 chopsticks bundled together with our bare hands. Only with the LGBT+ community being empowered economically can our political and social causes truly be controlled by us.
As we continue to be proud every year, month or day, let us continue to support each other towards realizing our dreams. We are indeed the most resilient community, and we need to channel this into building a truly sustainable greater good foundation by staking and enlarging our slice of the economic pie.
Kenneth Kwok is the founder of Global Citizen Capital, a multi-family office fund dedicated to investments in regenerative medicine, sustainable quality of life and global well-being, and the founder of Better Together Foundation, a nonprofit organization enriching the lives of minority communities in Asia.
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