scene & heard - april 2005
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
After a difficult few months Phuket finally put on its gay finery and partied on in grand style for Phuket Gay Festival 2005. Meanwhile, despite the drought, the whole country is gearing up for Songkran (Thai New Year) with water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink!
The Phuket Gay Festival was originally scheduled for early February, but national elections were then called for that weekend meaning that all venues would have to be closed or not selling alcohol on the final Sunday, so a decision was made to delay the festival until early March. Then the devastating tsunamis struck South-East Asia, causing loss of life and severe damage in many parts of Phuket and surrounding areas. While most gay venues escaped relatively unharmed, the gay community threw itself into helping in the rescue and recovery operations in Patong and the festival committee again delayed the festival to allow those affected to have some time to recover both emotionally and physically from the disaster.
Despite the delays, the plummeting tourist arrival numbers, and the still evident tsunami damage, the festival finally got underway on April 7 with the opening ceremony and "red" party attracting a better than expected crowd to the Paradise complex stage and bars. The "white" and "blue" parties on the following nights continued to attract good crowds and the final parade and party on Sunday showed that all the Phuket boyz and "girls" still know how to have fun - the parade was as good as any put on in previous years, and while the crowd may have been disappointing by previous years' standards, it is I think a stunning success given the current circumstances. Pictures from the parties and parade are in the gallery here, on the gay patong website and of course on boxertravels.com.
The Phuket Gay Festival received very strong support from the local community and local government and health organisations and in return has been very supportive of the local community - donations totalling 300,000 baht were presented to three tsunami affected organisations in January and support of local health and AIDS organisations will continue throughout the year. Elsewhere in the country gay pride continues to grow as well. Both the Bangkok Pride Coalition and the Pattaya Gay Festival have busy programs over the next few months - see the calendar her for details and the official web sites as well: Bangkok Pride and Pattaya Gay Festival.
If you manage to survive Songkran then there is lots else happening around town as well - for all the latest venue changes and events as they happen see the calendar here and the directory listings.