Saturday, 9 July 2011

Tik's birthday & cool local kindergarten teachers and friends......

.... at a rainy but beautifull friday evening here in Patong at Backstage!

Last week, yea yea, I know I run somewhat behind, but with good reasons (but thats a story for another day) Tik celebrated her first birthday (20 years!) at our Backstage. After Achiia's birthday a couple of days before we decided to make it a more modest affair. Also Tik is much shorter here with us at Backstage.

Tik is, what they call here a kathoey, or in english, a ladyboy, but with a pleasant caracter and as such she fits in beautifull in the Backstage-staff!
At first I had my doubts if she would fit in, but luckily I now feel different and am happy we have her on board:-)

Left: Tik with part of our staff after she received her birthday cake (and yes, also for her it was her first one!).
from left to right: Beng, Clarck (one of 'our' teachers, Tik, Max, Ole (our cook), Achiia and Mos

Left: Our teacher-friends Clarck and Kim, enjoying our karaoke fascilities with their Australian friends, 3 sisters!
It was touching to see how these 3 cared about eachother and fussed about that one of them would get back to the hetel safe when she felt she needed to go back to her room!

Right: It was a world upside down! Normally its the Thais who sit inside singing their hearts out with our karaoke but now it were our farangs ;-) BUT the Thai enjoyed for a change a quiet chat around one of our round tables (I enjoy round tables more then those square ones) ...but they enjoyed, as in allmost every circumstance, a photo opportunity, specially for ones birthday. Here Tik with staff members of Backstage and Superboys, our neighbours here in Soi Yaiyui.

Right: Of course, they enjoy to celebrate, and thats what they did, till late I have to say.... here you see Max, Tik & Achiia enjoy some karaoke

Friday, 8 July 2011

14th July Potter Night + Double birthday Party at Backstage

Nothing more to add, the poster says it all (click on it for a closer look) ;-)
also more info on our FB Page

Come and join us this upcoming 14th of July!!

hugssss ;-)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A shock & crossdressing by staf !


The other day I got a SHOCK while checking our weblog again...I discovered I had last written an entry to report the Queens Night celebrations at Backstage.
I admit, thats bad ..... not that a lot exciting things happened since then BUT even then I should have kept all of you updated nonetheless. An excuse may have been that on our FACEBOOK page though I reported regularly and commented on all kinds of different things..... FB is getting distracting when it comes to updating our Weblog, so I appologise for that ;-)

I can recommend though to follow us on Facebook (FB) for the short and quick reports, reactions and mentioning of worthwhile things as we (or I) see it because often they are not suited for the weblog set-up ;-)

A Cross dress fun adventure at Backstage by our Staf

Now everybody who knows me, knows I like men, uhum or haha ... but most of you who know Kik, knows he likes dressing up as a woman, as do most of our staf.
Its part of what one can say is "being gay in Thailand". Butch men who are openly gay here are hard to find...but like in our own world(s), they are there sure enough but sadly more hidden then the more feminine guys.
Some butch guys teached themself to develop some feminine behaviour so they can get accepted by their surroundings as being gay.
So, all of you who have been wondering howcome you see so few butch gay men here, thats one of the reasons... Thai society has a hard time accepting butch gay men, or as one sometimes also say masculine ;-)

Now, one recent night Kik organised our staf to dress up like women with some stricking results I have to admit.. and we had a ball I can assure you!!

I had a hard time selecting one picture of every staf member and the one we made as a group... here they follow:
By the way, the pictures were taken by my iPhone and as such has no 'red eye' protection device so that may at times explain why some of us might look somewhat strange with their eyes but we did our best to affoid them ;-)

Right: The exception on the rule, Schia, as a guy ... he never has dressed up as a woman and I (or we) wonder if ever he may do so ;-)

Left: And well, Max showing like a stage diva ;-)

Right: The big surprise when doing the transformation was our Beng, who I called spontaniously the Thai Ophra Winfrey !

Left: Yes, even our Sit, or as I stubornly call him Cid, after El Cid the famous warrior from the fight in Spain against Muslim kingdoms of that period (and wonderfully portayed by Charles Heston in the movie classic El Cid , didn't escape the make over adventure ;-)

Right: Tom wouldn't be Tom not to participate BUT clearly with a wink, because he;s the man in the house and he like to joke and make fun as well !

Left: And well, who can resist our Lady Mos, in whatever outfit (s)he might show him-/herself in ;-)

Right: The first time he showed himself transformed, and what a wonderfull surprise he gave us all: Ton!

Above: The Backstage group together with yours truly in the middle and Kik behind the camera/iPhone (sorry, this is the best we could produce with all in the picture ;-)
As one can see, Cid and Ton changed back to 'normal' and with Shia and me brought balance back, at least for the picture here that is, haha.
From left to right: Max, Cid, Ton (below), Rob, Tom (below), Bneg, Schia and Mos!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

KoninginneNach or QueensNight at Backstage.

29th of April, every year the Dutch start to celebrate their Queens official birthday this evening, culminating in a true people's party on the 30th of April, our Queen official birthday.
Comming from the region in Holand where we have a strong tradition of a real Queensnight, an evening you can easily compare with New Years Eve, only more or less the good weather is guaranteed, one can imagine how we Dutch sometimes can get real crazy celebrating....But happy to say, practically allways in a more then good atmosphere and with lots of fun and joy plus traditions.

Now, being far away from home, we Dutch tend to go on celebrating this typical Dutch national holliday...and so, now being in Thailand, we tried to celebrate at The Backstage as a somewhat Thai way .... with cabaret, but also Dutch snacks (bitterballen en frikandellen) and our national anthem and a toast to the Dutch Queen at midnight...followed by a toast on the King of Thailand and on this special 29th of April, also on the newlyweds WIlliam and Kate (which was much appreciated by our Britisch and commonwealth friends here)!

Above: The Backstage is starting to get ready for its first celebration of Queensnight/KoninginneNach.


Right: The hosts of Koninginnnach or Queensday, Rob (right) en Kik (left), with our longstanding friend and customer, Egbert otherwise known as Peter in the middle!

By the way, it felt somewhat strange to me, to be wearing my original weddingsuit for the 1st time again since our weddingday in Holland on 08-10-08. But surprisingly it felt better eand less 'tight' to wear hahaha then on that O so special day. The shirt was made by WiWat Wis, the designer here in Patong with a more then excellent repetoir. We can easily recommend all of you who come to Patong to pay him a visit and see if he has made something of your liking. Most likely you will yourself succesfull;-)
But wearing our weddingsuits, though different from our weddingday, also felt somehow felt appropriate for the festive occasion and by wearing ithese pink suits expressing our wish that we sincerily hope that our Queen will have a long and above all healthy live!

Left: Yourstruly together with Chris from The Dutch Inn.

The Dutch Inn is the Dutch bar/cafe off Bangla Road, with whom we have excellent contact. We were pleasantly surprised that he was able to make time to join us to celebrate Koninginnenach with us for at least a part of the evening/night. The next day we found him busy behind the BBQ at his own bar, when we paid him a return visit to celebrate Queensday or Koninginnedag at his location (by the way, that was and is the extra reason to celebrate Queensnight, so everybody who likes to celebrate doesn't have to choose between our places but can simply enjoy both parties!

Left: Kim enjoyed doing a pleasing dance and song number, and for the occasion was dressed up in Orange with even Orange feathers to go with his costume...a picture we wouldn't like you to miss out on.

In dayly life Kim works in the venue next to ours, Superboys.
Thats also the fun of our Backstage Cabaret... we discover more and more that friends of our bar, guests, like to join our cabaret when they have the chance to. And we are allways enthousiastic if they want to do one or more numbers because thats what Backstage is for as well...its a bar for ALL our customers and friends, to enjoy and if we can we try to accomodate and sofar without any regrets! ;-)
O well,

Right: Bil performing a dramatic Thai song.

To the joy of our Thai friends and customers, as well as of us 'farang' or non-Thai, our Bil performed a dramatic Thai song in a most expresive way so that even we could understand and get why our Thai friends were so enthousiastic;-)! We discover that Bil is quite the actor when on stage... when he transforms from the modest/relative quiet guy when working in the Backstage into an outgoing, expressive personality.

Right: Rang also took the opportunity to get more stage experience.

During our 2d try-out he took part for the first time, and we then happily agreed to have him also in our Queensnight performance. His enthousiasm was wonderfull and he had fun to expres himself to all our enjoyement.

All in all our KoninginneNach or QueensNight went more then wonderfull. Not all the performers of the Backstage Cabaret have been mentioned above.... But all of them have been mentioned in earlier reports here on the weblog ;-)
We also discovered that our Schia enjoys to play the thecnician, taking care of the music...which went pretty well... we can expect him to do more of that! ;-)

To all mentioned above and the ones not mentioned, but without whose efforts the evening wouldn't have gone as well as it has been, we like to express our warm felt thanks for having given us a most memorable KoninginneNach/QueensNight!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Friday 29th of April: QueensNight or "KoninginneNach"

When, if the reports are correct one third of the world, or 2 biljon people, are watching the William & Kate show from London, UK, the Dutch are preparing for or starting to celebrate The Dutch Queens official birthday on the 30th of April.
In the area in Holland were yours truly comes from though we have a tradition to celebrate elaboratly the night before...which has become 'worldfamous' in Holland as KoninginneNach, translated in english: QueensNIght.
Being from that region I introduced the QueensNight celebration for the first time on the 29th of April 2009. Then we celebrated it at our J&B Bar in Paradise. In 2010 we were still looking for a new location ergo no opportunity for a true celebration. But now we can celebrate again, at our Backstage!

Above: HM Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands.

29th April “KoninginneNach”, or QueensNight !
celebrating the official birthday of Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands
The Backstage Cabaret,
& guest performances

From 10 pm till 2 am/late..
with 1st show starting around 10.30 pm

A toast on the Queen at midnight, followed by 2d show
We also will serve typical Dutch snacks!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Picture impression of Rin's birthdayparty at Backstage, 15/16 th of April 2011

This picture impression of Rin's birthday looks somewhat less then normally but they were made not only late at night but with iPhone ;-)
The order in which they are placed here is more or less backwards, lol.
It was truly a fun little cozy birthday party where our Backstage friends were free to be themselfs and one gets the honest impression that they indeed enjoyed.
Ofcourse, if one serfs onwards to our facebook page then one can see all the pictures......BUT for now and for a change I let the pictures talk for themselfs.
(and if you look for me, well I was holding the iPhone, so you do not waste your time to look for me;-) hehe)

The extra fun for our guests was in the fact that they were allowed to use our costumes which we collected over the time to be able to start our own little cabaret.... and mor eoften we allow our customers to do enhances their fun, thats for sure ;-)

We hope Rin enjoyed his personal start of his New year and that we will be able and fortunate to enjoy his company for long time to come in good spirits and health! ;-)

Thursday, 14 April 2011

1st TRY-OUT Backstage Cabaret pretty succesful! ;-)

If I/we have to believe our customers who were present at the first public try-out of the Backstage Cabaret, all of them were enthousiastic with the performances our Backstage staf put on our modest little stage.
Though the setting was simple, our public was truly enjoying the efforts put into the numbers which were brought on with the interpretation by our staf.
Even me, who stimulated the staf to do something like this, was pleasantly surprised... though several times customers and staf had to calm me down that everything would be okay (staf), or was more then okay (customers)!

Most appreciated was the honesty and real enthousiasm for what they were doing...simply it showed so clearly the fun the staf was having doing this!
Something, according to some, is nowadays missing so much in the cabarets of the more renowed cabaret bars here in (Paradise) Patong... even though they are much more elaborate, way bigger, etc. The sincerity and enthousiasm made up for shortcommings, which were there normal for a first time ever;-)

End conclusion: I was proud, very proud on what the Backstage staf managed to bring on our little stage simply because this crazy Dutch farang thought it was finally time to start experimenting with Backstage's own Cabaret after such a long time talking about it...... simply doing is the best way to find out if we are any good at it....
It seems though, big sigh of relief, we are ;-)!!!

The 1st try-out started ofcourse, as seems to be a Thai tradition, way too late (making me nervous if anything at all would happen) while our Backstage was surprisingly filled with interested customers!
But then it started, in twou little rounds our staf brought in total 8 different numbers on stage and after our/my Kik brought a funny encore for those still present (but then he could only do something 'late' because he had to get down to Backstage from his work for Simon Cabaret first (but you'll miss his picture in here, haha) ;-)

In the end our little cabaret show was performed by 4 members of our staf: Max, Tom, Mos and Bil.
Though in the first round our Tom (Left: Tom together with Bil) suffered from stagefright and backed out at the last minute...when seeing his friends/co-workers do their numbers, he got over that fright and did his more traditional number with Bil in the second half

Above Right: Bil doing his first number. We can say that we look forward to see what else he has in store for us in the months to come to enjoy!

Left: Max bringing his first song with a well known and strong female number in a version unknown to our friends and customers, namely perfomred and sung by a man!
Like to thank Max because I so much wanted real male numbers included, and he delivered in a clever way!

Right: Mos surprised us all by putting on a wonderfull female number as kick off of the Backstage's Cabaret. Though in general a shy person, he made us all feel proud for his daring and courage by bringing this first number with an disarming charm ;-)

Above: from left to right: Max, Bil, Tom and Mos. Posing for a deserved thank you and applaus by our audiance for bringing our first ever Backstage Cabaret!

I truly hope we will be able to build on the enthousiasm of this first performance. The intention is to grow to a regular show once a week over the next months, with most likely all kinds of little improvements to make everything more easy/natural and most important... more relaxing haha, Will need that myself lol
BUT I'll definitly wil try my utmost to keep to the principal
Nobody has to do something, they are all free to do if they enjoy doing so.....

Uhum, allready one of our staf who didn't want to take part at first, now allready requested if he could do a number in the 2d try-out ..... and for all of you who managed to read this far, til this line here: that 2d try-out will take place, if I can help it, well before the 29th of April...because if possible I would enjoy our staf to become the backbone of our Queensnight celebration on the 29th of April! ;-)
We'll wait and see ;-)

O, and please feel free to place your positive critisism, we'll need all that input in trying to improve on this slipery way in the world of Thai cabaret ;-)

Thursday, 7 April 2011

New Promotion for remainder of April + 1st try-out Backstage Cabaret

The Backstage Purple Meeting Point

"เสมือนบ้านหลังที่สองของคุณ" พร้อม free wifi และ บริการครบครันสำหรับปาร์ตี้แบบส่วนตัว, คาราโอเกะ,อาหาร,เครื่องดื่ม, เพื่อพบปะสังสรรค์หรือทำความรู้จักกับเพื่อนใหม่

Your home away from home, with free wifi and facilities for private party,
life music, karaoke, eating & drinking, coffee/tea, games, to meet/make new friends, to unwind and relax;-)

Opening hours from 5 pm - 2 am / late....

Special Introduction Discounts:
From 12th - 30th April
5:00pm – 8:00pm:
25% on all drinks


ตั้งแต่เที่ยงคืน ถึง ร้านปิด
ส่วนลด20% ทันทีที่เปิดเหล้าพร้อมมิกเซอร์ ฟรี !

Midnight - closing time
20% on all bottles (with free mixer!) while using our Karaoke!


11th April:
Between 8 and 9 pm & between 10 and 11 pm
1st Try-out Backstage Cabaret

If it will be something like below left, or more informal like here on the right, or something in between... we'll have to discover, find out....and thats what a try-out is ment to be for ;-)

The Backstage wishes you a wonderful Songkran'days
and a happy Thai New Year !

ชาว Backstage หวังอย่างยิ่งให้ทุกท่านมีความสุขในวันสงกรานต์

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The return of the Max! ;-)

He stayed with us the last 2/3 months of 2010 before he felt he had to go back to Koi Samui all of a sudden at the beginning of the new year. We ourselfs and customers were surprised by this sudden move, but then again... this is Thailand, Amazing Thailand.... and to hold that thought:
Guess who came to The Backstage today with his stuff: Max!

He allready announced early last week that he wanted to come work for us again and after we expressed no objections, he surprised us by actually arriving back today, in the middle of the rain.
So Backstage is now back on, as we like to call it, full staff mode............ little bit ironic with the unexpected (?) early start of the low season, but then again, who speaks of low and high seasons these days?

Backstage likes to be their for all our (potential) customers full year round with little regard for high or low season because Backstage is were one can relax when one gets off his or her stage, and that's not bound to any season!;-)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Introducing: New arrivals at Backstage ;-)

Since today our staf has grown with two guys, we can hardly call them boys ofcourse, who started work today at The Backstage.
They start with looking how things go ... seeing and observing first how we work here at Backstage before actually jumping in themselfs.
Before they came to us, these young men worked at Boys & Boys, opposite My Way in paradise Soi..... That bar suddenly closed down earlier this month and we were happy to welcome them in our modest little venue.

We honestly hope that soon enough they will feel very much at home in their new home away from home, and become true members of our little backstage family ;-)

Left: Dael, also called Bil(ly), he's 27 years old and hopes to celebrate his 28th birthday on the 1st of May

Right: Bo, he's 28 years old and celebrates his birthday on the 10th of June!

We hope that they will help to make our customers feel at home, and that all of you who in time visit us, will feel happy to be served by either one of them and will feel able to close them in your hearts as part of The Backstage bunch ;-)

Saturday, 19 March 2011

New promotion at Backstage, valid till the 10th of April !

The Backstage has a new offer running till the 10th of April, just before the start of Songkran;-)

Backstage is giving all customers who hand in the orange flyer with the promotion :

a 25% discount on all their drinks on that particular visit between 5 and 9 pm!

Left: Ready to receive our customers for food, drinks, coffee/tea or whatever they like to enjoy, including karaoke ;-)

Specially for our Thai customers we also have a promotion more suited for them:
same same but different, as they say here:

20% discount on bottles when using Backstage's karaoke facility from midnight till closing time ;-)


Wud's birthday Party on 15th of March, a modest but most relaxing and fun celebration!

When we started up The Backstage last August/September we had a Thai guy running that small restaurant opposite Backstage & Superboys, we nowadays use for food at our bar.
Some bad luck happened to him and he had to sell his small restaurant and left Patong Phuket to return to his home province in the north east of Thailand.
Before he started that small restaurant he worked at Big Boom Boy and some of the old customers of J&B Bar may remember some of our outings to our present soi when we enjoyed ourselfs at Superboys and Big Boom Boy. By the way, Big Boom Boy in the form we knew and enjoyed, doesn't exsist anymore... this last month it as been converted into a laundry service... but with leaving all the signs etc. of Big Boom Boy on the outsite in tact .... so typicaly Thai;-)

Now this guy, Wud is his name, if you hadn't guessed that allready, enjoyed using Backstage for drinks & karaoke with his friends on a very regular basis. Now Wud came back for a couple of weeks to Patong Phuket and decided that he would like to celebrate his birthday at The Backstage.
Ofcourse we enjoyed organising his birthday party for him! We also had not forgotten how he helped us get known and started in our first months here in our soi (=street) as well.

So the Backstage went in party-mode and we decorated the place according the occasion: a simple birthday party ;-) (picture below)

Now, the flowerladies seem allways able to smell where an occasion takes place which might be in need of celebration flowers, so they turn up and try to sell them.
In a way not bed, because they often smell most wonderfull and attractive...and when you buy the flowers for hanging around your neck then those smells accompany you the whole remainder of that evening/night ;-)
By the way its a popular flower gift to give to persons on the even of their departure, or, as in our situation, for someones birthday.... and as you can see on the pic below, Wud got his! Next to Wud, one of Wud's farang friends, Egebert, also known among Thai as Peter...Thai seem to have a hard time with saying Egbert and made it into Peter ;-)

Picture above: When the clock has hit midnight, its the custom around here to bring out the birthday cake, when their is one of course ;-)
Ofcourse we at Backstage arranged for one, and Wud was very happy to receive his cake with a symbolic number of candles on top of it, from me and blew them out in one go...this time our candles were normal and so easy to blow them out .... by the way, it made them much more harder to keep burning while bringing the cake out to Wud haha.

But whats a Thai birthday party without karaoke?
Wud managed to get all of the farang guests, us westerners, to sing songs, or at least give it a serious try...and this turned our birthday party in one fun affair of singing, laughing...simple real enjoyment and celebration.
Picture below: Some of our farang joining Wud singing and look to thow truly they enjoy!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Global Commission: HIV programs can only be truly effective if sexual minorities are decriminalised

by Laurindo Garci, Fridae’s HIV Programs Manager and Manila-based correspondent.

Over 200 participants from 22 Asia-Pacific countries gathered in Bangkok for a historic dialogue hosted by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law. As of now, 90 percent of countries in the Asia-Pacific region still have laws and practices that obstruct the rights of people living with HIV and those at higher risk of HIV exposure.

Delegates watching a video message from UNDP Administrator,
Helen Clark in the main conference room at the UN
Conference Centre, Bangkok. Watch Helen Clark's video message.
All photos courtesy of UNDP Regional Centre, Bangkok.Members of the Asia-Pacific LGBT community, public health workers and civil society came face-to-face with lawmakers, judiciary and police during a rare opportunity to air their grievances and share stories in hopes that a frank discussion on the core issues around HIV might change hearts and ultimately change laws.

The first of six regional dialogues for the Global Commission on HIV and the Law was held in Bangkok on February 16 and 17. The event comes almost midway through the 18-month lifespan of an independent commission, convened with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and tasked to analyse the critical legal and human rights challenges of the HIV epidemic and recommend remedial policies.

Work started for the Commission in June 2010 and its 14 Commissioners – which include former presidents and members of international judiciary in its line-up – are working towards the goal of delivering key findings and recommendations by December 2011.

Panel discussion during the Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue
Press Conference (left to right) UNAIDS Executive Director,
Michel Sidibé is the Executive Director of UNAIDS; HIV & the Law
Commissioners Hon. Michael Kirby and Jon Ungphakorn.


Observers believe that the credentials and political clout of this independent commission – which count Former President of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Parliamentarian Dame Carol Kidu from Papua New Guinea, the Honourable Michael Kirby, former Supreme Court Judge from Australia and Jon Ungphakorn from the Thai Senate among its members – could help convince governments and judiciaries that laws and law enforcement should support, rather than block, effective HIV responses.

During the dialogue, the Commissioners assigned to this first session and their legal counterparts from the region, heard that the burden of HIV is rests on the shoulders of Asian and Pacific Islander gay or bisexual men and other MSM. If current trends prevail, 50-percent of new HIV infections will be among by MSM by 2020, according to a Commission on AIDS in Asia report released in 2008. It is for this reason that various community groups who presented for the Commission advocated so stridently for the decriminalisation of same-sex behaviour.

This localised understanding is timely as scientific evidence released at the 2010 International AIDS Conference supports models of targeted prevention and treatment services for those most-as-risk of HIV infection. The research found that focusing on key-affected populations can result in a decline in on overall HIV prevalence in the general population. Hence governments and public health workers are being urged to “know their epidemic” and provide care and support for those who need it the most.

A preparation session for MSM civil society delegates (left to right)
Hisham Hussein and Raymond Tai from PT Foundation Malaysia;
community representative from Vietnam; Aung Thein, Burnett Institute,
Myanmar; representative from Sangama, India; Edmund Settle,
UNDP Regional Centre Bangkok;
Paul Causey, APCOM; Stuart Koe, Fridae & APCOM.

Dr Stuart Koe, CEO of Fridae and Vice-Chair of the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) attempted to spell out the conflict that is suffered by men who have sex with men and transgender people in the face of HIV.

“Discriminatory actions by public authorities threaten recent progress in addressing the HIV epidemic among these particularly vulnerable populations,” Dr Koe said. "During the past year, police and public security authorities across the Asia Pacific region have increasingly targeted men who sex with men and transgender people with physical and sexual assault, harassment, extortion and sometimes forced blood testing.”

Dr Koe and other community spokespeople from around the region recounted stories of human rights abuses against gay or bisexual men and other men who have sex with men with clear repercussions on HIV risk and access to treatment. Reports from China and the Philippines reveal how police often use charges of sex work as means to harass MSM and transgender people. Charges are often dropped in exchange for extorted money or sexual favours. There are several cases where on-duty HIV outreach workers have been snared by police in South Asia on suspicion of sex work. Possession of condoms was used as evidence of the charges.

Many laws in the region are preventing the distribution of MSM-specific safer sex education information on the basis that these materials contravene strict pornography laws, for example in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Or similarly in Malaysia and Singapore where censorship codes prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality in the public domain hinder the scaling-up of MSM-specific HIV and sexual health outreach.

As the issue of homosexuality was raised, a Supreme Court Judge from Sri Lanka implored the Asian LGBT community to come together in solidarity because HIV is not just “gay or MSM issue”. Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane said that many lesbians were at risk of HIV as acts of rape and sexual violence was commonly used to “cure” lesbians of homosexuality. This reporter, who’s also Fridae’s HIV Programs Manager, made the point that while solidarity among LGBT people was likely to be common goal, laws need to be changed so that LGBT groups within the region can be recognised, thus enabling the community to organise and engage in public discourse. Violence and discrimination as demonstrated by religious fundamentalists across the region highlighted the urgent need for protection of sexual minorities under the law.

Dr Koe noted that while some instances exist where governments have learned to turn a “blind eye” and allowed MSM-targetted HIV programs to run freely despite criminalisation of same-sex acts, true progress can only be made when “champions” from within governments and civil society work together and advocate for change.

Of equal concern during the Dialogue was the way in which the law navigates issues for transgender people. “In the eyes of the law we don’t exist,” Khatini Slamah of the Asia Pacific Transgender Network said bluntly in reference to the failure of many governments to recognise gender identity. “And if we don’t exist,” Slamah explained during the Commission meeting, “how can we stand here and talk to you about rights if you don’t see us.”

Khatini Slamah of the Asia Pacific Transgender Network
addressing delegates during the Town Hall discussion.

Gender reassignment is not legally recognised in many countries in the region, though there are glimmers of progress in India, Nepal and Pakistan. This creates problems for transgender people in day-to-day life when their outward appearance does not match that of the person recorded on national identity cards, passports and other official documents. The consequence is that many transgender people disengage from conventional safety nets and health services set-up for the community. Transgender people are left to fend themselves at the margins of society, with limited options for livelihood. This kind of marginalisation becomes a structural barrier to access care, treatment and support, fanning the flames of HIV risk and transmission among transgender people.

The tension between intellectual property laws, free trade agreements and providing affordable treatment was another hot issue brought before the Commissioners and the region’s lawmakers. Issuing compulsory licenses to free up production of generic HIV medication has been a political lightening rod for the Thai government since the turn of the century. A similar scenario is now playing out within free trade agreement negotiations between India and the European Union. If left unchecked this new bilateral agreement could affect millions of people throughout the Asia-Pacific region who depend on cheap generics for treatment of HIV and other diseases.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue covered several topics relevant to those most affected by HIV in the region: men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who use drugs, women, children and young people. As the Dialogue continued it was clear there were more issues that could fit in one session.

Discussions about protecting people living with HIV from discrimination came late in the day. Activists waited patiently for the chance to share their stories that were charged with emotion and frustration. One story from Princey, a single mother in Sri Lanka who faces intense harassment from health workers and fellow villagers on the sole basis of her HIV status. Other stories came from migrant workers of Sri Lanka and the Philippines who discovered their HIV status during mandatory testing required by visa regulations. These workers were swiftly deported, often in harsh conditions and with little support upon arriving home. For some, their ordeal was compounded by breaches in confidentiality and news of their HIV status and sexual orientation were leaked to others without consent. The Commissioners and their legal colleagues were reminded that all people living with HIV are impeded by restrictions on travel and migration by many countries.

Several commentators from the community repeated the adage that “the laws of the street and the laws on the books are two different things” throughout the session’s proceedings. This acute dichotomy is clearly felt for all the groups most-at-risk of HIV in Asia and the Pacific. A handful of countries have successfully passed laws and policies which recognise the rights sexual minorities, sex workers, people who use drugs or people living with HIV, and yet bigotry and intolerance remain unchecked in offices, villages, schools and clinics within the same jurisdictions.

It was fitting that the Regional Dialogue ended with a civil society representative for young key-affected populations who demanded a place for young people in any debate over laws, human rights and HIV. Skand Amata, Program Officer for the Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS’ Youth Lead Project, reminded the Commissioners that the legacy of HIV is being passed on to a generation who was born in the midst of a global epidemic, and many young people in Asia below the age of 25 – particularly MSM, are living with HIV. He said youth does not mean one is except from infection of HIV, nor should they be denied the right to sexual health. Amata said that if progress is to be had in the fight against HIV then young people need to be involved in the process because the future is in their hands.

The Regional Dialogue was hosted by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, is jointly organised by UNDP and UNAIDS in partnership with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission on Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The next Regional Dialogue for the Global Commission on HIV and the Law is scheduled for the Caribbean in the coming months, with dates for other regions to be announced soon. For further information on the Global Commission on HIV and the Law visit the official website at: A Fact Sheet on the Commission’s Asia-Pacific Dialogue is available for download in PDF format.

Laurindo Garcia is Fridae’s HIV Programs Manager and Manila-based correspondent. All photos courtesy of UNDP Regional Centre, Bangkok.

Related Links
UNDP: Global Commission on HIV and the Law Reviews Legal Barriers Obstructing Progress on AIDS in Asia-Pacific
Punitive and Discriminatory Laws Limit Access to Hiv Prevention And Care Services For Men Having Sex With Men In Asia Pacific
Transgenders Assert Identity At AIDS Meet
NGOs rally against patent law changes: Call on US to stop pressuring Thailand (Bangkok Post)
HIV protesters tell India to defy EU drug demands (AFP)
Asia HIV prevention programmes fail to reach sex workers (Reuters)
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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Press release & Program Phuket Pride 2011 ... with some comments ;-)!

Finally we have the program available in a convenient, accesible way... better late then never ;-)

First, below, you find the pressrelease of this years pride, in which is a summary of some of the stereotyping about the GLBT community by the general Thai public... it also explains why, also in general, Thai gays etc tend to behave the way we generally see them behave!
There's a lot to fight for here in Thailand, even though most farang, visitors/tourist who come to Thailand might think their GLBT counterparts here have a relative better acceptance here then in most of our home countries.
Though on the surface it may look that way, below that surface Thai society is not much different from most societies in the world.

There's much more to say about this, and maybe we will re-post the weblog-entry we made early December .... But first this years statement!;-)

The program of the Phuket Pride is relative quite one-sided... most find it difficult to speak out about GLBT rights, etc. ... its not the most Thai thing to do... but when aroused, Thai can be very strong-headed.
The only thing we farang can do, is observe and watch how the general GLBT situation and the Pride develops....
We may be able to support BUT its the Thai GLBT community which has to do it, in the way they think best.

To give them more power to dtake these steps, we can only support them, make them feel not alone. Show them how in all our respective countries our GLBT community has developed, for better or for worse, so they can learn from us ... and as such, who knows, in the end Thai society as a whole might benefit from the lessons we all learned elsewhere and by doing so same time finding a Thai solution to a lot of the GLBT issues.
A very interesting progress to witness... and as such our presence and support will be needed, how much comments we might have about how they go about things.

As a consequence we at Backstage have the intention to facilitate some discussions and lectures during the next Gay Pride, if the community appreciates and desires it.... this 2011 Pride was somewhat too early for us in that respect so we did the next best thing by sponsoring this years Pride.

The few activities we organize, do this year, are shown on the left hand of the program as shown below.

One thing is for sure though THAI KNOW HOW TO PARTY!! So enjoy this years Pride to the fullest,
but when here, take time to talk to fellow GLBT Thai... might be quite enlightning ;-)

The Pride Parade 2011

Ofcourse what's a Pride without a Parade in which the GLBT community shows the outside world that they are proud to be who they are, when they can dress up, party and make fun and show in their respective ways that they are proud to be gay!

For the first time we as Backstage will do our utmost best to show a somewhat decent presence in this Parade ... and am very curious how it will look like, lol, because 'we' farang will only be present as 'decoration', as attributions to what our Thai friends feel they can and want to express!

Let us know, farang or Thai, about your experiences of this years pride, we will happily share them ;-)

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Orange Gay Cruise, with a fun but windy, somewhat stormy end, part 4 !

Above: Sun is setting over Chalong Harbour, which due to a very unusual strong, stormy wind, was unusually restless. But the sunset looked wonderfull ;-)

Below: Due to this stormy weather the Captain decided that it was not safe for our boat Sai Mai to land in dock and instead he decided to let the Sai Mai stay ofshore and bring us all to shore in the dingy of the boat in which we allso landed on Nui Beach earlier that day .... wwhen all together on land again we heard that the benjamin of our group, Rin, got seasick while ferrying back to land... though we al felt sorry for his plight we also had to smile because of it

Below: As it should be, the organiser(s) responsible for this succesfull cruise, though with a somewhat stormy but fun carnaval like ending, left the ship last .... here we arrive, al feeling pretty dandy and excited near the spot were we all went on steady land again ;-)

Above: The complete Orange Gay Cruise group together for the closing group picture:
from left to right: Egbert (known to our Thai friends as Peter, Alberto, Teacher (nickname), Tu, Somchai, Neet, also known as Oei, sandy, Andreas, Kik, Rin, yours truly Rob, ... and Zhou!

After the cruise we were all brought back to the Backstage were we arrived safe and sound around 7 pm, 11 hours after we left The Backstage..... were we closed of with The Orange Party and, ofcourse a very good meal with, ofocurse some big friend fish ;-)
But well, thats the next report!

When you like to see more or al the pictures made during this cruise, visit our facebook-page!