Queer parade held in Seoul
By Kim Rahn
Hundreds of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders took to a street in downtown Seoul on Saturday in an event designed to nurture pride in sexual minorities and enhance public understanding of them.
A parade was held along Cheonggye Street in the afternoon on the last day of the week-long Korea Queer Culture Festival that began on May 24.
Such an event is very rare in Korea, where Confucian values are still strong and talking publicly about sexual orientation is considered taboo. The annual festival, which began in 2000, is the largest event for gays and gay rights activists here.
“The parade is intended to let sexual minorities know that they are not alone in the world and help them mingle with others with either the same or different sexual orientation,” a staffer of the organizing committee said.
Followed by several festival organizers holding flags of the event, members of gay and lesbian groups, including the Solidarity for LGBT Human Rights of Korea and Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group, marched down the street.
There was no rain but many walked under rainbow colored umbrellas — multi-colored things are symbolic of sexual minorities, representing diversity. Some members of a gay group “Gay Creation,” in their 30s or 40s, appeared only in swimsuits on a truck and squirted water from water pistols. Several drag queens in dresses danced around.
During the one-hour parade, the participants called for regular human rights and a better understanding of sexual minorities from the public, saying they are discriminated against because they have a different orientation.
“The slogan of this year’s festival is The Queer Love Song: Queers as Folks, Making Strong Connections. We wanted to talk about the rights to form various kinds of families, those different from the traditional family comprised of a female mother, male dad and children with blood ties,” the staffer said.
After the parade, gay art groups presented musical performances. The official program was followed by an overnight after-party at a club in Itaewon.
Besides the parade, the festival organizer held exhibitions, plays, movie screenings and seminars about sexual minorities.