This monthly column, now in its second year, brings to you all that is exciting and happening in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Thailand.
As the year draws to a close, and having survived the Mayan prophecy of a world apocalypse this month, we can look forward with renewed hope. But before we do that let's look back and take stock of the most memorable news and events over the past 12 months.
There were quite a few groundbreaking developments, starting with Yollada Suanyos, a former Miss Alcazar, winning a seat on the Nan provincial council earlier this year, making her the first transgender in Thailand to hold a political position.
Next up was the Miss Tiffany Universe 2012 pageant where we got to know Nicha Chaiyapruek, a dark-skinned transsexual from Phattalung province minus plastic surgery, who walked away with the first runner-up prize, stealing all the attention from the winner. Currently reading for a master's degree in Finance, Nicha is a gay rights advocate with the Thai Transgender Alliance, and a role model for young transgender people. The more I get to know Nicha, the more I'm confident she is a new hope of the community.
Meanwhile, Baramee "Denjan" Phanich caught media attention after the 23-year-old, along with four other transexual students, was allowed to wear female attire for the graduation ceremony at Thammasat University. Her fight for her rights caused a stir nationwide, and she was duly rewarded. Along the way she became the hope for young trangenders in society.
Pop sensation and gay icon Lady Gaga in Bangkok for her debut concert in Thailand.
I want to start by remembering the late Whitney Houston, 48, a truly great singer and one of the favourite artists among gay audiences. Despite her death, the music scene in Thailand continued to be very exciting this year especially with BEC-Tero flying in one of the most exciting artists of our time, Lady Gaga, also a gay-right advocate. The Mother Monster _ as she's known to her fans _ hogged the headlines the minute she landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport for her tweet about fake Rolex watches, before a frenzied concert that saw the singer don a traditional Thai headdress and, again, provoked criticism from the guardians of culture in this country.
Another event that needs mentioning is "SK6", a dance party that put Thailand on the map as a dream destination for gay revellers. Hosted by international events specialist gCircuit, the party attracted the cream of deejays such as world-renowned Tony Moran and Asian sensation DJ Head from Taiwan. The gay community can now look forward to next edition of the party this year.
Yes or No 2 , a second sequel of Thailand’s first lesbian themed feature film.
If anything, 2012 was a year of gender diversity on the cinematic front. In February, we were treated to a coming-of-age film, It Gets Better, by transgender director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit (who was also appointed president of the Thai Film Directors' Association). The film portrays the life of a transsexual in a mature and touching manner, and the film portrays the LGBT scene in the local and international context. It has since been screened at various film festivals.
A film with lesbian theme, Yes or No 2, followed the original released in 2010 and, surprisingly, became popular in many Asian countries, especially China and Taiwan, where its lead stars frequently travelled for meet-and-greet events with fans.
Initially, the film wasn't released in China due to its government's restriction on homosexuality, but Chinese fans started an online community which comprised of fans who had watched the film on the Internet or on DVDs purchased elsewhere.
Songkran Party by gCircuit will return in 2013, after its landslide success earlier this year.
The Thai version of the Dutch franchise The Voice has proved a mega-hit. The show wrapped up recently, but it still remains the talk of the town. What made this show meaningful for the LGBT community was the variety of contestants in terms of age and sexual identity. The remarkable gender-bending performance was the battle round between beautiful transexual Nawatchapat "Anny" Chaitha versus the lovely tomboy Praneeta Thongkamwan. What's most striking was how the two fought hard to win through the quality of their singing.
And the list won't be complete without the controversial television drama Rang Ngao, which, beside the raunchy, revengeful love triangle between the lead characters, also featured a secret love of a closeted husband, his gym buddy and a teenage boy who's in love with a man he met on the Internet. Another hit drama, Gi Pao, starring television sweetheart Ann Thongprasom, also added a twist about the forbidden love of two men. It marked a better step than the old days when the gay characters were usually portrayed as silly or, in many cases, psychotic. However, the realistic representation of gay characters in the media remains an issue that requires endless debate.
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About the author
- Writer: Yanapon Musiket
Position: Life Writer