The vibrant colors of the rainbow flag, symbolizing the LGBTQ+ community, are set to shine brightly throughout the month of June in Phuket. Phuket e-magazine invites readers to get acquainted with the LGBTQ+ community in Phuket province through a conversation with Khun Wikki, Dr. Nopasorn Sittivech, the Vice President of Andaman Power Phuket group, and the pageant manager of Miss Queen Andaman Power. They discuss the strong unity among the rainbow community and Phuket’s readiness to be a welcoming tourist destination for LGBTQ+ travelers, offering a plethora of exciting celebratory events.
“Andaman Power Phuket is an organization dedicated to promoting sexual health, advocating for HIV/AIDS prevention and sexually transmitted infections. We also provide counseling services to the LGBTQ+ community in the local area who may be facing challenges related to their sexual identity. Some individuals may not feel comfortable speaking openly about these issues with their families or others. We encourage them to engage in a conversation with us, as we are here to provide guidance, support, and referrals to relevant organizations and services. Our group comprises LGBTQ+ individuals and allies working together,” shared Khun Wikki, reflecting on the team’s efforts to empower the LGBTQ+ community in Phuket.
The Work of Andaman Power Phuket: Past and Present
Andaman Power Phuket has been working tirelessly, from the past to the present, as a group united under policies and budgets supported by global funds, including the Health Promotion Fund (HPF) and the Provincial Public Health Office (PPHO). They have been actively engaging with diverse gender communities, including gay, transgender, and gender non-conforming individuals, providing education on preventing sexually transmitted infections and organizing various activities to create a safe space for self-expression, dialogue, knowledge sharing, and subgroup training. Their goal is to promote LGBTQ+ awareness, self-protection, and familiarity with available services. The group hosts a wide range of events, including the Miss Queen Andaman Power pageant, to select representatives who actively participate in advocacy activities for the LGBTQ+ community. Applications are now open, and the competition will take place during this year’s Pride Month.
The term “Pride Month” has become increasingly common nowadays, but many people wonder about its significance and relevance to the LGBTQ+ community. Khun Wikki explains the origins of Pride Month, stating, “Pride Month is a month-long celebration of diversity within the LGBTQ+ community, observed every June. It has its roots in the Stonewall riots that took place on June 28, 1969, in a gay bar in New York City. The police raided and attempted to shut down the bar, leading to clashes and protests by the LGBTQ+ community in the area, fueled by frustration over the denial of human rights. This pivotal event sparked a global movement advocating for equal rights for diverse gender communities. As society becomes more open, understanding, and accepting, Pride Month has evolved into a time of celebration, awareness campaigns, symbolic expressions, and vibrant parades, reminding us that diverse gender communities deserve equal rights and recognition in society.”
For Phuket, being open and accepting of diverse gender communities is not a concern. As an international tourist destination and a multicultural city, Phuket embraces its diverse population and the differences that come with it. People here have an open mindset. Currently, Thailand, including Phuket, is considered a haven for diverse gender communities. LGBTQ+ tourists are eager to visit. If you ask which popular tourist destinations are favored by the LGBTQ+ community, Australia and Taiwan would undoubtedly be among the top choices. Taiwan is a country where LGBTQ+ marriage registration is legally recognized and various benefits are provided to the LGBTQ+ community. They have over 10 rainbow-colored pedestrian crossings throughout the country, which makes this community feel at ease when traveling to Taiwan. They don’t have to worry about being apprehended by authorities or feeling unsafe. Australia is similar in that it is an LGBTQ+-friendly country. They have the largest Mardi Gras Pride event in Sydney, which generates significant revenue for businesses, benefiting the community and receiving support from their country’s leaders. Both Taiwan and Australia are desirable destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers.
“Phuket has gained popularity among LGBTQ+ tourists, not unlike heterosexual travelers, who seek impressive travel experiences. However, this group may prefer to visit entertainment destinations, enjoy shows, and watch drag queen performances. They might prefer accommodations that offer privacy, such as private pool villas, where they can fully be themselves. This is a luxury-oriented group with higher spending power, as they may not have family responsibilities or children. Phuket has everything to accommodate LGBTQ+ tourists. In addition to its beautiful natural scenery, Phuket offers diverse tourist attractions, fully equipped hotels, and complete facilities. There is a prominent Gay Street where people here are welcoming to diverse gender communities, especially the local government and related organizations such as the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), which are open-minded and support various advocacy campaigns. Businesses, entrepreneurs, and various shopping centers also recognize the importance of LGBTQ+ tourists, especially during Pride Month.
They participate in campaigns, decorate their establishments with LGBTQ+ symbols, and hold special promotions to celebrate Pride Month. Shopping centers like Jungceylon participate in organizing and decorating the venue, while TAT offers special promotions and discounts to tourists, all in celebration of Pride Month. This reflects the readiness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ tourists in Phuket, our hometown. Throughout Pride Month, business owners, shopping centers, hotels, and the local people of Phuket can join together to express their support by displaying symbols, such as rainbow flags in front of their establishments and posting messages and rainbow symbols on social media. Hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers can openly express their welcome to diverse gender communities and offer special promotions on this occasion, showcasing to the world that Phuket is a gay-friendly and LGBTQ+-friendly city, promoting gender equality, and being a city ready to embrace all gender diversities, creating a beautiful world.”