PRIDE month has begun in Thailand. Events will continue all month, but history was made this past weekend when Bangkok, once again after a long hiatus, had a Pride Parade through the heart of the commercial district. This parade was massive and impressive. The newly-elected Bangkok Mayor attended and other political celebrities showed up. Most LSGT+ groups marched behind banners. Some costumes were fabulous!
There are several ways to measure a Pride parade. One way is how daring and challenging participants are. In this parade, despite strong social pressure to be modest, flamboyant costumes were prominent. From pictures online (which is my resource for this report) we can conclude that Bangkok still runs #2 behind Taipei as far as scanty clothing goes. But the push toward marriage equality and equal rights legislation was a repeated theme, taking precedence over the right to be open and expressive, free of restrictions, and proud of one’s sexual divergence. The right to be bonded and together, a BIG LOVE community, and moderately safe, are what count. A second way to measure a Pride parade, as already hinted, is whether officialdom stays away. To be accurate, it is much preferred that police and military (acting, as they would insist, in behalf of security) would not be obvious. None of our pictures showed a single person in uniform, much less in battle dress. On the other hand, the Mayor came to both a Saturday kick-off event near Siam Square and the parade on Silom Road on Sunday. We notice that, so far, the Prime Minister has been absent – actually he has been very busy with international visits right now, so we will cut him some slack. There’s plenty of time left this month for the government to mend fences with LGBTQIAN and SOGI rights advocates.
Bangkok last held an official Pride parade in 2006. It was energetic, but quite small. Maybe only 150 participants, if memory serves me (I was there). This time there were clearly tens of thousands filling the boulevard from side to side for several blocks after the organized parade had passed. At the time of the first couple of attempts to have a Pride parade, the Taksin government was in a suppressive mood, and the gay leadership was divided into opposing camps, giving the government convenient fuel to ignite public concern. Shortly after that, political thugs attacked our Pride Parade in Chiang Mai. The tide, it seems, has turned.
The last thought (picture 10 in this set) is a reminder that everything we hope for will be lost if life as we know it on Earth becomes extinct.
We wish you all a prideful and joyous month. Illegitimi non carborundum.
[I am grateful to the many who posted pictures of the Bangkok Pride Parade on June 5. Since the same batches were posted by several people, I am confused about whom to thank and give credit. I will be happy to add credits if the photographers will let me know. Meanwhile, THANKS to you who dressed gaily, marched boldly, sang loudly, and took pictures.]
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.