This new series features dispatches from LGBTQ travel writers, bloggers, and photographers who are on the road in far-flung places. If you know somebody who should be featured here, send us an email at email@example.com.
Stefan and Sebastien are currently "eating their way through Asia," scuba diving around Koh Lipe and Koh Hin Sorn Islands off the west coast of southern Thailand in the Malacca Strait.
Over the Christmas holiday they stayed for a month in Bangkok to plan for a trip to Myanmar in January, and offer some advice on their site for those planning to make that trip, and for those traveling on a budget to Bangkok:
We stayed at HQ Hostel for some of this time, which we found on Tripadvisor and recommend for its location to the gay life in Silom.
We had to first obtain a visa for Myanmar / Burma and then (as Lonely Planet and other online forums warned us) get brand spanking new, perfect condition dollar notes! The Burmese currency exchange shops are very particular about this and reject old notes with the slightest fold, rip or crease.
We found the best agency for the best rates for currency exchange in Bangkok is SuperRich International who can also provide you with new dollars for Myanmar / Burma (most Thai banks we checked couldn’t quite do this).
Enjoy a few more Instagram shots from their Thai islands adventure, AFTER THE JUMP...
Mid way through our Advanced #scubadiving course here in #kohtao #Thailand Waving the torch around in the dark during the night dive made us feel like Jedi Knights waving a light saber :) #thailand #travel #asia #myrtw #behindtheblog #lonelyplanet #IGTravelThursday #gay #travelstoke #bbctravel #igtravel #instago #instatravel #travelworld #travelphotography #rtwchat #rtw #igers #gaytravel #igboys #instahomo #lgbtqtravelers #gaystagram #lgbt #gaylife #guyswhotravel #gaycouple
An upcoming amendment to Thailand’s constitution will bring legal recognition for a third gender. Though Thailand is widely known for its queer and trans subcultures, the country’s laws haven’t been the most inclusive.
Kamnoon Sittisamarn, a representative for the Thai Constitutional Drafting Committee explained that the legal changes were designed to ensure broader protections for Thailand’s substantial trans-identified and gender queer population.
"We are putting the words 'third gender' in the constitution because Thai society has advanced," Sittisamarn said to Reuters. "There are not only men and women, we need to protect all sexes. We consider all sexes to be equal."
Going forward the proposed changes will formally submitted to the National Reform Council in April before being approved by the ruling military political force, the National Council for Peace and Order. The NCPC came to power last May after a violent military coup that killed some 30 people.
For one day in June, the tiny city-state of Singapore brims with bright pink clothing, banners, and festivities to mark the annual "Pink Dot" gathering, a celebration in support of inclusiveness, diversity and the freedom to love. This year's celebration, the fifth such event, was the biggest so far; at 21,000 people it was the largest civil-society gathering in Singapore history.
But for all Pink Dot's success, the Singapore government's official ambivalence regarding gay rights reflects a common hesitation among Southeast Asian countries when faced with this new notion of human sexuality. Like our own 50 state variety of attitudes towards LGBT rights, some Southeast Asian countries are beginning to take their first hesitant steps towards equality, while others seem to be reinforcing their disapproval of homosexuality.
Continue, AFTER THE JUMP...
Hundreds of people have turned out for hearings on a civil unions bill in Bangkok before the Rights and Liberties Protection Department and the House committee on Legal Affairs, Justice, and Human Rights. The bill, if passed, would be the first of its kind across Asia.
The Bangkok Post reports:
The House committee chaired by Pol Gen Viroon Phuensaen, a Pheu Thai Party-list MP, started drafting the bill a year ago after receiving a complaint from a gay male couple. The couple said they had been denied a marriage certificate.
Three more public hearings will take place at Chiang Mai University on Friday, Khon Kaen University on Feb 22 and Prince of Songkhla University on March 1, respectively. Opinions from the public will be gathered and used to amend the bill before being proposed to the cabinet for further consideration. If the cabinet rejects the bill, the supporters have pledged to collect 10,000 names of eligible voters or at least 20 members of the House of Representatives to forward to parliament for consideration.
The bill would give same-sex couples the same marriage rights as other couples, said Setthawut Rugsujitrat, a participant at the public hearing.
Supporters acknowledge that the bills chances are slim, but are hopeful that its consideration marks a new era for gay people in the region.
A gay couple kissed for 50 hours, 25 minutes and one second to break a world record for longest kiss, VOA News reports:
The two men were taking part in the annual Ripley's Believe It or Not longest kissing competition in the resort town of Pattaya, Thailand. The seven competing couples started kissing Sunday and had to keep their lips locked at all times, including to eat and drink and to go to the bathroom.
Thirty-one-year-old Nontawat Jaroegenasornsin and 28-year-old Thanakorn Sittiamthong won $6,500 worth of diamond rings, cash and a voucher for a five-star hotel in Thailand for their first place kiss.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
PC Airways is about to become the first Thai airline to employ "ladyboys" as flight attendants. From The Bangkok Post:
PC Air is due to commence its maiden commercial service, a charter flight for a tour group from Bangkok to Vientiane on Dec 24, and plans to inaugurate flights to two Chinese cities on a charter basis on Jan 23 next year.
The launch comes after a nine-month delay, which company reps said was occasioned by a desire to cash in on the glut of people traveling during the holiday season, rather than any financial shortfall. (To demonstrate his confidence in the airline's prospects, PC Air's sole proprietor, Peter Chan, elected not to lease the company's first airplane, an Airbus 310-222, and instead bought it outright for 1 billion Thai baht.)
PC Air offered a demo flight last week for members of the media. Aboard were the airline's four "ladyboy" flight attendants, pictured above. (Photo courtesy of Boonsong Kositchotethana. And no -- "ladyboy" is not at all an un-PC term in Thailand.)
In the coming years, PC Air hopes to expand service to Hong Kong, China, South Korea, and Japan, and Mr. Chan promises to continue hiring third-gendered flight attendants. The Post again:
"It's our policy to promote equality," he said.
Among [the airline's] first batch of 30 cabin attendants are four ladyboys, 19 females and seven males, all of whom are officially certified. One of the ladyboys is Thanyarat Chirapatpakorn (second from right in the photo), who was crowned Miss Tiffany Universe 2007 and is best known as a model and soap opera actress who uses the name "Nong Film".