It appears our Pink Issue is very well _ though unexpectedly _ timed. Once again, Chiang Mai is making national news because of a gay issue. The first incident this year was the cancellation of the Gay Pride Parade planned to be held in February, an event organised by Mplus, a non _ profit organisation which promotes sexual health related issues for gay men. The parade was aimed at raising awareness of HIV and other health issues. The gay _ and political _ activist, ‘Gay Nathee’ (Nathee Teeraojjanaponse), was one of the voices behind the February protest, claiming that Chiang Mai was not an appropriate city in which to hold a gay parade as it is a cultural city and its image may be tarnished. Ironically, had the parade gone ahead, it would probably have enjoyed a couple of inches of column space in newspapers for a day, then been forgotten, Chiang Mai’s precious reputation intact. However, ensuing protests made headlines in newspapers around the world: Chiang Mai’s reputation was indeed established…as homophobic.
As we go to press the activist is once again on television and being interviewed by the media, this time protesting the soon-to-be-open Lavender Lanna Hotel, slated to be Asia’s largest gay resort complex, and located on the corner of the Hua Rin Moat Corner.
Numerous Thai web boards are now being flooded by postings of suspicion, fear and anger about this gay hotel. And Lanna culture is once again perilously close to being annihilated, according to the outraged masses, by this hotel which will turn Chiang Mai, single-handedly, into a hotbed of sexual deviancy. Basically, this hotel, many say, is not respectful of Lanna culture.
If every business in Chiang Mai that wasn’t respectful of Lanna culture was told to close, then I may as well stop publishing Citylife and about 99% of all businesses here had better shut shop. After all, most of us run businesses for reasons other than protecting and cherishing the Lanna culture _ slap on the wrist to all of us for such selfishness! It also begs the question, where is the outrage about Loi Kroh Road?
Yes, I have been accused by some of being a fag hag, a flame dame, a fruit fly _ basically a woman who has many gay friends, and if it were a crime, then I am guilty. But even if I didn’t have one single gay friend, I would still be outraged at the insidious homophobia prevalent in Thai society. We all have gay or lesbian family members, friends, or colleagues _ whether we know, or accept, it or not. If Lavender Lanna has broken, or in the future breaks, any law, then of course legal action must be taken against it. But if not, then no one should jeopardise someone else’s business, rile up the press and the public just because they don’t approve of it .
As you can see from the three page spread in our magazine this month, Lavender Lanna is a client. But I actually don’t know what will be going on in the hotel once it opens…and neither does Gay Nathee, and neither do you. So, I really suggest that we all keep our heads, think things through, ask questions, allow others the benefit of the doubt, before jumping in heads first and sending the rights and reputations of homosexuals back decades.
Where is the tolerance and compassion?
Off topic, but also relevant, I urge you to use your vote in the upcoming mayoral election on the 4th of October. If you wish to find out more about each candidate and their policies, please visit ChiangMaiCitylife.com.
Citylife this month:
Being the Pink Issue, we have brought you many interesting articles this month concerning LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-, Trans-) issues. James Austin Farrell writes about the underlying homophobia within Thai society, Hakan Jakob Kosar looks at how Buddhism views homosexuality as well as interviewing a few gay guys about their army experiences. I hold a casual discussion with a group of young lesbians, discussing matters from society acceptance to sex as well as visited the dusit D2 baraquda pattaya hotel. Brent Madison, soon to leave Chiang Mai after a decade, has shot some stunning photos of a beautiful transsexual. I also welcome a new contributor, Phil Daring, who writes about gay issues from the point of view of Mr. (Straight) Average.