An explosion of glamour, gilding and glitter flooded Bangkok on Sunday for its first LGBTQ+ pride march in almost 16 years, with participants reminding that real equality was still a long way off.
The “Naruemit Pride 2022” – Naruemit means “creation” in Thai – was organized by a coalition of NGOs supported by the city’s new governor, Chadchart Sittiput.
Demonstrators of all genders, supporters of sexual freedom, feminists, prostitutes, drag queens … gathered on one of the main highways of the megalopolis for the first official Pride since 2006.
“I feel so happy,” smiled Johnnie Phurikorn, a 31-year-old drag queen who matched her red lips to an exuberant scarlet ruffled dress for her Pride premiere. “I am happy and grateful to have this moment”.
The Southeast Asian country has a highly visible LGBTQ+ community, but many of its members face severe hardship and discrimination in the conservative, Buddhist-majority kingdom.
“I don’t want people to think we’re different,” Miss Tiffany Universe transexual pageant contestant Maysa Petkam shared. “We don’t want more rights than other genres, we just want basic rights.”
“I hope the marriage for all law will pass, so that there are laws that protect and fight against gender inequalities,” she added, pointing out that her community still suffered daily segregation, while stabilizing its dizzying crown.
Anticha Sangchai and Vorawan Ramwan, dressed in diaphanous wedding dresses that caught the eye of crowds and social media, celebrated their union in the middle of the parade.
“My very dear friends parade together and made us live a very special moment,” Anticha told AFP, calling the experience “honor” and claiming “the right to have a family, to love and to marry whoever you want.
Same-sex marriage remains illegal in Thailand. In March, the government rejected a bill to this effect.
The party continued late into the night. A large crowd has settled under one of the capital’s metro stations, partially blocking a major artery and taking part in an improvised drag show to the sound of songs by Madonna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry sung in chorus.