Jun 7, 2022
THESE DAYS, PRIDE MONTH in Asia and around the world means a good excuse to have a party, or three. But the original Gay Pride marches commemorated a singular event where when lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, intersex and others stood up for their rights, long before anyone ever dreamed that an all-inclusive tag like LGBTQI+ would exist, much less be embraced and worn with, well, pride.
One of the defining events of what would later be called gay liberation started in New York on June 28, 1969. The Stonewall Uprising, named for the Greenwich Village gay bar Stonewall Inn, may not have been the first time that people fought back against discrimination based on their genders and sexual orientation, but the rebellion against this umpteenth police raid captured the collective imagination and inspired a community to take action.
The protests lasted several days. The following year marches were held in several cities to commemorate the stand bar patrons, drag queens and neighborhood locals took to end the harassment. Gay Pride was born, paving the way for a lot more awareness, love and acceptance in the world.
Today, people may not remember all the history, but the spirit of the event is something that all pride events celebrate. Here are some fun ways to celebrate Pride 2022 across Asia, this month and beyond.
Pink Fest offers dozens of activities through the month of June. Whether you’re into comedy, theater, drag shows, exhibitions or even LGBT-themed walking tours, you want to check out the Pink Fest calendar. Learn to crochet or pole dance, then shop to your little pink heart’s content at the Pasar Pink Sunday Social Market (June 11).
Pink Dot, a nod to the city-state’s nickname the Red Dot, will be held in Hong Lim Park on June 18. Expect lively performances and massive displays of public support for LGBT rights from the likes of Hirzi, an official ambassador of the event, social media maven and self-proclaimed “national treasure of Singapore.” Visitors to Singapore, though, you’re out of luck: antiquated laws that a lot of participants would like to see reformed mean that Pink Dot is only open to ID-carrying Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
If you happen to be in Kathmandu on June 11, you won’t want to miss the festive Nepal Pride Parade that starts at the Maitighar Mandala monument. No group banners, no company sponsorship, just lots of people coming out and coming together. Gender equality and anti-discrimination are the law in Nepal, considered on paper at least to be among the most progressive nations in Asia.
Southeast Asia’s largest pride event before the pandemic is back. Count on a party to end all parties at Metro Manila Pride that will bring together a community of thousands for live performances, celeb-spotting, rousing speeches and a rainbow-colored march. Watch the website and social media for a slew of announcements about the program that was being confirmed as this article was going live. If you need to cool off after all that excitement, have a rainbow pride pop from Sebastian’s Ice Cream. Mabuhay!
Bangkok has a well-deserved reputation for LGBT-friendliness. Did you know that Thailand decriminalized homosexuality in 1956? This year saw Bangkok’s first Pride Parade in over 15 years, and the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center is hosting queer artists at Bangkok Pride: Rainbowtopia June 17-19. And on June 26, Siri House hosts an all-day Pride tea dance they’re calling “Over the Rainbow,” in collaboration with Madame Rouge burlesque troupe and social activist drag queen Amadiva, featuring live cabaret, a screening of the groundbreaking Singaporean LGBT series Getaway and a talk with the director and cast.
Warmth and hospitality define Bangkok hotels and that is doubly true during Pride Month. The Siam hotel actually served as the set for the five-episode web drama Getaway, Singapore’s first BL (Boys’ Love) series. So, to celebrate Pride Month and the release of the series, the hotel is offering packages with a Getaway theme. After kicking things off with a one-day pride festival, the W Bangkok will host a drag brunch on June 25. Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok hosted a film festival, has its own pride month deals and is serving rainbow cakes in Craft all month long. SO/ Bangkok is hosting a Drag Me to So Party on June 18. And Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park has added rainbow drinks to all of their F&B outlets.
Not all Pride events happen in June
Tokyo Rainbow Pride was held in April this year with a festival and parade in Yoyogi Park. The podcast Find Your Colors with Tokyo Rainbow Pride, hosted by celebrity, drag queen and editor Bourbonne, keeps pride going all year long.
The Seoul Queer Culture Festival planned for next month is probably the biggest pride event in Asia. Over the last two weeks of July, expect a film festival, a parade and much, much more – if authorities come through with the necessary permits. The fact that they haven’t yet is proof that the fight for LGBT rights is definitely on-going.
Taiwan is the first country in Asia to recognize gay marriage, so unsurprisingly Taiwan LGBT Pride is one of Asia’s biggest. Expect a fabulous comeback in October. Delhi Queer Pride will be held in November, which is usually when Hong Kong Pride Parade is held, though this year’s dates haven’t been confirmed. Because of continued health restrictions and official policy that poo-poos promoting pride, Shanghai Pride will be an all online affair this year, with talks in English and Chinese.
Finally the Asia Pride Games (English website under construction) took over from The Straits Games (named for the competition that originated in Malaysia, silly) and had their first edition in Taiwan last month. Look for more fit athletes from around Asia at the second edition of the Asia Pride Games in Phnom Penh in May 2023.