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THAILAND - Jan 17, 2005

The organizers of the Phuket Gay Festival, led by the Festival Chairman Khun Tangmo, have postponed the 6th Annual Phuket Gay Festival from February 9-13 to April 7-10, citing respect for tsunami victims and families and general tsunami recovery issues.

Gay business venues in Patong Beach where the festival and parade occurs were generally spared damage due to their location one block back from the beach front. Two gay businesses close to the beach, however, were hit hard, with one staff member death reported to be directly caused by the tsunami.

The general feeling of the festival organizers, supported by the many participating business owners, was that respect for the consequences of the tsunami was far and away the most important issue, allowing Patong area residents to have some time to recover both emotionally and physically from the disaster.

Khun Daeng, former chairman of the event and winner of a 2004 Utopia Award, said that "the best thing that people who care about Phuket and Patong could do is continue to come here, don't change your plans."

One issue was heavily discussed, and that is the resilience of Patong and the speed of the recovery and repair for so many of the businesses. Khun Daeng noted that Phuket beaches are rapidly recovering and most hotels and guest houses were available and ready to receive guests.

The Festival will announce rescheduled events shortly. The Volleyball tournament, a huge favorite, will be 8-9 April, and the Grand Parade on April 10. Organizers acknowledge that there will be a different feeling for the 2005 event, and want to make it a festival of renewal and remembrance for Phuket, with all areas of the Phuket communities invited and welcome to participate. The festival has always had a large crossover audience, not just GLBT, and this year they are planning to make it even more inclusive and welcoming.

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