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Shaking a tail feather, Phuket will rock at Phuket Pride 2012 this week

Phuket Pride 2012 Will Shake Phuket Nicely

Sunday, April 22, 2012
PHUKET: Guess who is coming out of the closet? Phuket, that's who. This year, Phuket Pride 2012 is actively involving everybody in the fun, whether gay or straight or somewhere in between.

The week-long event begins today and concludes with a big parade and a stage show in Patong next Saturday night.

Every year, a few more of the mental barriers that isolate Phuket's gay and transgender communities are breached.

This year, Phuket Pride organisers are hoping to begin tearing down the equivalent of the Berlin Wall mindset that leaves some people locked inside the prejudices of the past.

The full schedule of events, which includes a Soi Paradise Street Party from 10pm on Thursday, scuba trips, a volleyball competition and stage shows on Friday and Saturday as well as Saturday's big street parade, can be found at phuket-pride.org

Beneath all the fun, there are some serious messages. Here are some extracts from an interview organiser Rob J. Vermeer gave to Gay Star News in Australia:

What's changed for this year's Phuket Pride?

The biggest changes for this years Phuket Gay Pride is The Pride has moved outsite Paradise Complex again (the main gay entertainment area here in Patong) into, as we call it, the public domain. This year the Pride also starts, though very slowly and low key this first year, to try to focus on issues which needs to be adressed here.

The Pride also tries to venture out all over Phuket, which ain't an easy job at all. The new name for the Pride organisation was chosen with that idea in mind : "Phuket Loves You" (or PLU as we call it allready here now), as well as the theme for this years Pride: ''Join The Family.''

How have you tried to get more local Thais involved?

My dear, thats a short question with a long and painfull answer and which have brought lots of frustration and sadness to many of us (me included) BUT as a whole we managed to move forward nonetheless. Only direct Thai involvement and leadership can bring a start to the changes so badly needed in this great country.

The GLBT community still needs to get itself more out of the proverbial closet here and start to realise the importance of respect and rights to them as an essential AND equal part of Thai society.

It should become an emancipation movement (again), not only focussing on party and fun. Rome and Cologne (as we say in my part of Western Europe) were not build in one day either... we farang are often too arrogant in our assumptions, too much in a hurry, too much pressure building to try to get things done according to our planning, etc. . . . way different from how the Thai still live and work here. The sincere hope is that our Thai counterparts will eventualy get on board . . .

How many people are you expecting for the parade?

To be honest, its the first time we have organised the Pride at the beginning of Low Season, but we should be able to expect a minimum of 10,000 people turning out, with a max of 20,000 to 25,000 but the weather will play a large role in the turn-out for Saturday's Parade.

Why is there no Bangkok Pride this year?

I should say: you have to ask them . . . let's say the emancipation of the GLBT community here is still far removed from elsewhere.

Thailand faces hugh challenges these comming years, with Asean moving to one market (like the EU) in 2015 . . . maybe the GLBT community need that process to be well on its way first before it has a real chance at true emancipation, tolerance and above all, acceptance.

What are the issues that really affect LGBT people in Thailand?

General tolerance of being and respect; General acceptance of being and respect; Equal rights and protection under the law; And for transgenders: not only facilities with excellent medical procedures for sex changes but the need to also recognise these changes by allowing them to change their birth certificates. More decent jobs then become accessible.

Our Thai counterparts really have almost the whole road still ahead of them . . . one can only hope once they get on it, that then they will go fast, real fast. Thais in general like to move fast - once they start moving.

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Hope you have a good one folks !

I asked my company if they would like to sponsor the event - large no's of people with high disposable incomes and no kids - but apparently conventional wisdom in the marketing world is 'don't touch it with a barge pole'. Nice to see attitudes have changed so much (add sarcasm here). We sent several staff dressed as giant condoms down Bangla for HIV day. No worries there ! I guess prostitution has less stigma than homosexuality. Funny that it coincides with Bike Week this year - I foresee an abundance of leather and moustaches !

Posted by James on April 22, 2012 09:29


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