The annual festival has become a tradition for the vivacious LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) element of Phuket’s eclectic community, and has long been part of Phuket’s attraction for many tourists, especially in party-central Patong.
The sheer fact that this segment of society can so publicly affirm its identity should be celebrated, and Phuket should be proud to host this event. Phuket Pride Week found its origins on these shores 16 years ago, at a time when other key tourist destinations in the region struggled to offer a destination of the calibre of Phuket, especially with an accepting host community .
Even advanced Singapore only that same year saw the first IndigNation party under the direction of Dr Stuart Koe, giving birth to the famed LGBT Pride season held every year. That event marked the first real headway into openness, and acceptance, in the city-state as officials for the first time gave the green light for a multi-sexual event.
Yet LGBTs in Phuket did not suffer similarly under that shroud, struggling for acceptance. As the Phuket LGBT community grew, stories of how many of them who could not find acceptance among their families, friends and society in their home villages, found it here, where they created their own community, where violent hate crime against people solely for their sexual orientation is something beautifully missing from the local police blotter.
Of course there are still some neanderthals out there who object to LGBTs, most likely due to their own fear, but nothing to the extent that many Western countries seem to have trouble outgrowing.
Of this, it is of sad irony that it has been no less than nigh 40 years since
Randy Newman released his satirical classic “Short People”, in which he happily chimes “Short people have no reason, no reason to.. Live…” Yet, today still there is a need in the developed world for the LGBT community to claim their rights.
May Phuket stand proud in its tolerance and acceptance of people of all walks of life, and we look forward to Phuket Pride Week returning next year. Let Phuket shine like the beacon it is. Short people can come too.