Out and Proud
We could hardly imagine a more beautiful spot on the planet to celebrate gay pride than Phuket with its glorious sun, white sand and turquoise surf. Festival organizers effectively coordinated a larger and more broadly attended series of festival events with the full support of the Mayor of Patong Beach and provincial authorities. Congratulations to them all for a great success!
Festivities kicked off on Patong Beach with the annual gay volleyball championship, sponsored this year by Club Bamboo. Players from Phuket and elsewhere in Thailand faced off in action-packed competition in the breezy afternoon heat of Nov 9 and 10. The team from Tangmo Cabaret took the bronze medal, Heaven Bar placed silver, and the Bangkok All Stars took home the gold with an outstanding performance.
Just over 30 visitors and locals woke up early on Nov 11 to join an all-gay speedboat boat cruise on the spectacular Andaman Sea to jewel-like Khai Island, with its eggshell-white sands and crystal-clear ocean surf. Barbecue lunch and some impromptu drag entertainers on hand for those who didn't opt for snorkeling, volleyball or exploring the sea and coastline. After a day of fun it was back to Patong Beach for sunset and cocktails.
In the evening, a special Loy Kratong Party and Supermodel of the Year contest was held outdoors in the sprawling Paradise Complex, home to Phuket's gay community. A dozen gorgeous contestants vied for several trophies while news crews from the major TV channels were on hand to record the pageantry. Afterwards, onlookers crowded the clubs and restaurants to party the evening away.
On Sunday, Nov 12, entertainment and the Festival's message of AIDS prevention and social tolerance were presented to the public by organizers at a large stage set up next to the beach. A large crowd of locals and tourists gathered for the free show and lined the beach road as the parade made its appearance.
More than a dozen large floats, two elephants, and smaller marching contingents comprised this year's expanded parade. The colorful spectacle was the center of attention for the many thousands of holiday-goers and locals alike. Many marchers chose to wear traditional Thai costumes, or extravagant original creations that perfectly suited the rainbow celebration.
The parade wound its way through town and ended back at the Paradise Complex where a free-form street party kept the cheerful spirit of pride and togetherness going well into the wee hours of the following morning. It is a testament to Phuket's tolerant way of life that so many people from everywhere in the world happily joined along in the fun.
For images and report from the 2002 Phuket Gay Festival, please click here
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