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scene & heard
scene and heard - november
Friday, November 28, 2003

As Bangkok Pride 2003 winds down, Pattaya is gearing up for the climax of its gay festival this weekend to coincide with World AIDS Day on Monday, and Silom will be going gay once again with the Bangkok Gay Festival parade this Sunday. Meanwhile the local press is full of articles about nipples, prostitution and transgender issues - a disturbing time for conservative elements indeed, but fun times all around for the rest of us!

The final event for Bangkok Pride was an "Overtime Party" in Silom Soi 4 on Monday - a fun night of street fair type entertainment with face painting, magicians, clowns, etc, (pictures in the gallery) which raised more than 40,000 Baht for pride charities in the raffle - the 25,000 Baht single prize was won by a visiting Frenchman. The Bangkok Pride 2003 committee is meeting tonight to finalise things for the year - final accounts and an announcement on the distribution of funds to charities should be out early December, and the AGM to elect a new committee for 2004 will be in early January - see the Bangkok Pride website for details as they are released.

The Bangkok Gay Festival parade this Sunday will again be fairly small, two floats and about 100 participants are expected as part of BGF's efforts to raise awareness of AIDS and gay issues in Thailand. The parade will be in Silom and will follow the same route as last year (and the same as this year's pride parade!), getting underway about 7:00 PM.

In Pattaya, this year's Pattaya Gay Festival committee have had another successful year, with more than 1.3 million Baht raised already for local charities, with the best still to come! The weekend kicks off with a beach party at Jomtien beach, then a fundraising dinner at the new Bruno's Restaurant on Sunday. Monday, World AIDS Day, will be the parade along Beach Road, then the final party in Boyztown on Tuesday night. Details are in the calendar here and on the Pattaya Gay Festival website

If you are not already all pride'ed out, Phuket will be holding its pride celebrations at the end of January - again see the calendar here and on the Phuket Gay Pride Festival website.

Opening today in cinemas nationwide is Beautiful Boxer, the movie about Nong Toom (Khun Parinya), the transgender Thai boxer who has captured the hearts and minds of people both in Thailand and internationally - I've got my ticket to see it tonight already! Khun Parinya was the recipient of a Utopia Award this year, and is expected to be at the BGF parade this weekend, meanwhile the actor who plays Nong Toom caused quite a stir at Pride in the Park a few weeks ago when he was cajoled into taking his shirt off at the sexy swimsuit competition! The film has been getting massive publicity, and has focused a lot of media and other attention on transgender issues.

Nipples have also been the focus in the local press recently, ever since a (female) model's breast escaped from her skimpy dress while she was parading on the catwalk at a Bangkok fashion show. The "Culture Ministry" (yes, there really is one) responded with a threat of a ban on such salacious happenings, prompting one newspaper columnist (obviously with Beautiful Boxer issues in mind) to wonder whether this ban would also extend to khatoey nipples, and a flurry of letters to the editor suggesting the authorities should perhaps have better things to ponder on! Male nipples are obviously still a problem for the authorities however, with many gay go-go bars still with their dancers in t-shirts and singlets - but many of the "special" shows are getting more and more "special" every day!

Prostitution has also been in the press recently, with a major public debate underway about the possible decriminalisation or legalisation of the world's oldest profession. The debate is for some reason only focusing on the plight of female sex workers, and all the usual tired old arguments for and against are being rehashed once again, but it is obvious that the government wants to get its hands on some of the mega-millions of Baht that are passing through the sex trade venues. What this may mean for the gay go-go bars and massage venues remains to be seen, but few sex workers - male or female - seem impressed with the government's motives in pushing for registration of sex workers!

Meanwhile everyone is gearing up for Christmas (well at least the expats) and New Year - a 4-day holiday in Thailand this year (Jan 1-2 as public holidays followed by a weekend), to be closely followed by Chinese New Year toward the end of January - so party mode all round for the next two months! See the calendar for details of what else is coming up next month and the directory listings for the latest venue changes!

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