Messages of Hope
at Phuket Pride
It’s undeniable that this year’s Phuket Gay Festival was a big success. This spectacular celebration drew thousands of tourists from various countries and walks of life, along with Phuket locals, to join hands in the social campaign against AIDS, child prostitution, underage drinking, and drug abuse. There were several pre-parade activities for the participants to enjoy for three full days prior to the grand parade on Sunday, February 3. Events included island tours, two day cruises to Khai Island, the annual beach volleyball tournament, and street parties in the Paradise Complex area. Best of all, a good impression was left on visitors to this island paradise.
On the parade day, marching contingents began to gather around the paradise complex at 2pm before moving to the starting point at Duangchit Resort. The dedicated organizers were seen racing around to make sure that everything was in place. Despite the very warm smile of the southern sun, everyone was very lively and energetic. Many appeared in traditional Thai-style costume and Asian ethnic outfits, while others sported glittering home-made costumes and fantastical make-up. Sixteen floats were brightly decorated with rainbow-colored bunting, balloons, and fresh flowers.
At 3pm, the procession began moving down down Beach Road, past the throng of onlookers and beachgoers who cheered encouragement or busily snapped pictures to show their friends back home. Special applause and appreciation was reserved for the groups baring messages of hope and concern for those fighting AIDS and the those struggling to prevent the spread of HIV. Banners highlighted current social campaigns to improve life for fun-loving Thai and visitors alike. Thai music and gay dance anthems accompanied the larger floats to inspire the marchers on the long walk. According to festival chairman, Khun Daeng of Boat Bar disco, 40,000+ people attended the parade.
The parade ended at the Paradise Complex at around 5pm but the fun rolled on at the street party finale. People wandered, sang, and shook their hips to the music from the entertainment venues while others sat and sipped their cocktails, happy to watch the celebrating crowd.
The 3rd annual festival clearly showed how strong and united the Phuket gay community has become. With the continuous support of the local community, we are certain to see even bigger crowds in 2003!
For images and report from the 2000 Phuket Gay Festival, please click here
For images and report from the 2003 Phuket Gay Festival, please click here
all images are copyright © 2002 by Utopia, sponsors of the festival.
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