all images are copyright © 2001 by Utopia.
The first-ever Pattaya Gay Festival was such an astonishing success that it is set to be a permanent and much-anticipated feature of the Thai gay calendar in future years.
FUNDS FOR CHARITY
The Festival Committee set out to combine enormous fun with a serious purpose. By the time the Festival was over, an incredible 3,260,000 Baht had been raised and contributed to the two chosen charities. The first is the HEARTT 2000 Foundation ("Help Ensure Aids Rescue Together in Thailand"), organized Dr. Jureerat Bowon, head of the HIV Clinic of Chonburi Regional Public Hospital and and Dr Philippe Seur, a French physician serving HIV patients in Pattaya. HEARTT provides free or low cost medication and expert medical services to those with HIV. The second charity is the Naklua Drug Rehabilitation Center.
EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
The Festival kicked off in February 2001, and every month throughout the year there was a dinner, a barbeque or a beach party. The Committee even organized a fancy-dress dog show! There was a lively sports program (football, bowling, volleyball) in which the whole gay community became passionately involved, and the startling habit arose of auctioning the shorts and jerseys of winning players. November saw the finals of these sporting events, as well as highly entertaining Mr. and Miss Pattaya Gay contests.
THE FESTIVAL PARADE
The Festival weekend began on 29 November with a street party in Boyztown which turned out to be the sleeper of the whole year. What was expected to be a low-key fun evening turned into a stupendous exuberant success, with 750 partygoers going completely wild.
The first Pattaya Gay Festival Parade and Walk for Life on World Aids Day 1 December was supported by over 1,000 sponsored walkers actually in the parade with many more walking along Beach Road cheering everyone on. The City gave its blessing with the Mayor himself starting the parade at 3 p.m. The public looked on in amazement as the 30 floats and groups walked by dressed in a fabulous assortment of costumes. Condoms, flags and the now collectable Utopia fans were handed out, with plenty of fliers to press home the safe sex message.
A GREAT COMMITTEE
The Festival Committee did a great job and they have earned the gratitude of Pattaya's gay community and, more importantly, of the many people with HIV who are now benefiting from their hard work. The Committee Chairman was Michael Burchall (Top Man), its Secretary was the indefatigable Jim Lumsden (Ambiance), and they were supported by Khun Tui (Tui's Place), Richard Burk (Amor) and Khun Charlie (Dreamboys).
Click here for pictures from the 2002 Pattaya Gay Festival.
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