Many factors went into me not deciding to go to Gay Days Orlando this year, a mere 2.5 hour drive away from my home in Fort Lauderdale. I've heard it's like no other, but then again, aren't they all the same? Living one mile from the heart of Wilton Manors for the past two years, I'm a little on gay overload already. Besides having 10+ gay bars and multiple restaurants in less than a mile stretch catering to us every weekend, there's multiple social gay themed gatherings throughout the year. To name just a few, we have Stonewall Pride, Gay Days Fort Lauderdale, "regular" Pride, an epic gay Halloween, annual themed weekends for Bears, Jews, Blacks, Transgender, and this year a new annual weekend for Pigs, but there's also the multiple parties throughout the year in Miami, just 30 miles down I-95.
But what if you only had the one pride, the one time of the year where there is a big gay celebration / party / hooplah that LGBTTQQABCDE people can all burst at the seams and shoot rainbows everywhere? And what if that one pride was canceled?
Seoul: Organisers of South Korea's annual gay pride festival vowed today to push ahead with a planned parade in downtown Seoul, despite a police ban and protests from conservative Christian groups.
More than 20,000 people had been expected to take part in the street parade on June 28 at the end of the Korea Queer Festival that kicks off next Tuesday.
But there was fervent and vocal opposition from conservative Christian groups, and police last week banned the parade, citing concerns over public safety and traffic disruption. – www.ndtv.com
Planning a pride I am sure is no fun task. If you do it incorrectly, you could kill the event for years to come (yes, you know who you are). But when a town / city / nation basically says no to one aspect or to the entire celebration and the reasoning is because it may cause too many issues politically and safety wise, we have to shake our heads. Sorry Seoul that this is happening. To the other extreme, Wilton Manors is looking to do things bigger and better.
In years past, private entities have organized the [Stonewall Pride] event but this year [Wilton Manors] city officials decided to take it on themselves. To help run it, they appointed five volunteers, the Wilton Manors Entertainment Group, to work with city staff members. –southfloridagaynews.com
But we definitely do live in a different culture here. Is it fair to compare Wilton Manors to Seoul, Korea?
Gay and transgender Koreans live largely under the radar in a country that remains deeply conservative about matters of sexual identity and where many still regard homosexuality as a foreign phenomenon.
Woo Ji-Young, executive director of the festival's organising committee, accused the police of caving in to pressure from conservative Christians.
"The police should protect the rights of free expression, rather than siding with those trying to suppress it," Woo told AFP.
Oh how lucky we are! As mentioned, I chose to not go to Gay Days Orlando. After writing this blog, I could change my mind and go, just a simple afternoon drive to one of the biggest gay parties in the nation. But I'm really not interested in that right now. Like I said, living here is sometimes a little bit of a gay overload. It's a great choice to be able to have and some would say I'm damn lucky.
But is our luck hurting LGBT causes in other countries? "Sexuality is a foreign phenomenon?" With our successes in regard to marriage and civil rights, are we adding to some nations' belief that Americanization is not a good thing since it comes with all of these equality and acceptance issues? Is the subject of Gay Rights just another negative next to McDonalds, Obesity, and the Kardashians in the Americanization brochure? Are our positives causing negatives? Are cities like Wilton Manors, West Hollywood, and Provincetown becoming part of the package deal that nations are seeing as becoming Americanized? And maybe it is not just Korea that could be feeling this way. Maybe this could explain LGBT issues in nations across Africa and Asia where Gayification is deemed to be just another part of Americanization.
In what I have found about Seoul's Pride is that the parade is canceled, but not the pride event. Can a pride happen without a parade? Will Seoul's Pride be the same without its parade? And if they don't have the parade, is it in a way a side effect of our advancements here in the USA?
"The parade will go on whether the police ban it or not," Woo said, while adding that activists would continue to press for the police decision to be reversed.
Violating laws on public rallies can draw a fine of up to two million won ($1,800) or even a jail term of up to two years, but Woo said the organisers were willing to take the risk.
The annual parade has in recent years attracted a growing number of participants, but also an equally swelling crowd of critics.
Last year, Christian activists disrupted the march by lying down in the street, and this time around they tried in advance to block the event by filing competing applications for the same dates and venues.
Woo said the organisers had been forced to switch venues several times.
Be safe Seoul. Have a safe Pride.
Do you think nations feel that Americanization comes with a side of Gayification?