Taiwan Gay Pride is Bigger than Ever!

The 15th annual Taiwan Gay Pride Parade wrapped up last month in the island nation’s capital city of Taipei. Numbers were up by 50% with the parade drawing an estimated 123,000 people to the event that was already the largest of its kind in Asia.

Taipei Gay Pride Parade 2017 – By Callum McLeod

Taipei Gay Pride Parade 2017 – By Callum McLeod

But many believe the official crowd numbers were underestimated by the government to downplay how gay Taiwan really is. Some people say it was 150,000, some say it was 200,000. So many people turned up this year that there were three separate parade routes covering much of the center of the city.

More than 160 groups participated in this years parade including American, Japanese and South Korean groups. The three hour parade ended with speeches and performances by local celebrities showing their support for gay pride.

Taipei Gay Pride Parade 2017 – By Callum McLeod

Taipei Gay Pride Parade 2017 – By Callum McLeod

Taiwan Gay Pride is a 4 day event with the parade taking place on the last Saturday in October each year and is the highlight of the event. You will find lots of gay related stalls at the gay village which is close by the gay bars of the Red House gay entertainment complex. There are also numerous parties held over the pride weekend.

Over the years, gay pride has evolved from a political rally to a celebration of gay culture making it fun for everyone. This years slogan for the parade was “Make love, not war” and “Sex ed is the way to go!”.

VIDEO: Taipei Gay Pride Parade

The new promise of marriage equality in Taiwan helped bring out the especially strong attendance at this year’s parade. Earlier this year the country’s top court ruled that banning same sex marriage is unconstitutional. It gave the nation’s legislature two years to either amend its current marriage statutes or allow marriage equality to automatically become law in 2019.

The Premier of Taiwan has said that a same sex marriage bill will hopefully be filed by the end of the current legislative session.

Taipei Gay Pride Parade 2016 - By Callum McLeod

Taipei Gay Pride Parade 2016 – By Callum McLeod

Sources and Related Reading

Same Sex Marriage in Taiwan

Taiwan Pride Parade

Gay Taipei “Asia’s Hidden Secret”

Taipei Gay Pride Parade 2016 Photos

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Hong Kong will Host the 2022 Gay Games

Hong Kong will host the 2022 Gay Games, becoming the first Asian city to stage the sports and cultural event. The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) chose Hong Kong over Guadalajara in Mexico and Washington DC. A record 17 cities had expressed interest in hosting the 2022 Gay Games.

Gay Games XI - outin.hk

Gay Games XI – outin.hk

The win comes amid growing momentum for the gay rights movement in Asia, with Taiwan’s constitutional court this year declaring that gay couples have the right to marry.

The games are expected to attract more than 15,000 participants and provide a 103 million USD boost to the economy. Bid supporters called the decision a victory for the status of the city’s gay community. The impact that the Gay Games has in host cities is incredible in terms of culture, sport, economic impact, history and equality.

The Hong Kong bid team was supported by numerous corporations, including Cathay Pacific, Credit Suisse and Linklaters.

Gay Games Opening Ceremony - outin.hk

Gay Games Opening Ceremony – outin.hk

The 2018 Gay Games will take place in Paris from August 4 to 12, featuring 36 sports, 14 cultural events, an academic conference, with up to 15,000 participants from 70 countries. The Gay Games was conceived by Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlete and was first held in San Francisco in 1982.

Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland. But there is no law against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gay marriage is not recognised in Hong Kong. Homosexuality is not illegal in mainland China and many large cities have thriving gay scenes but many gay individuals still face family and social pressure to marry and have children.

Hong Kong Gay Pride - twitter.com/andrewchristian

Hong Kong Gay Pride – twitter.com/andrewchristian

Official reaction from government leaders has been very muted. One wonders what China will think!

More info about the Gay Games can be found on the FGG website.

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Aussies Deliver an Overwhelming YES Vote

Australia Votes Yes

Time to Celebrate the YES Vote - news.com.au

Time to Celebrate the YES Vote – news.com.au

Australians have voted in favour of changing the law to allow same sex marriage. Australian Statistician David Kalisch announced the results of the ABS postal survey from Canberra, confirming the survey had delivered a YES result. Of 12.7 million votes, 61.6 per cent were returned in favour of same sex marriage. The final participation rate accounted for 79.5 per cent of eligible voters. Every state and territory recorded a majority YES vote.

SSM Vote Summary – Click to see full sized image – abs.gov.au

SSM Vote Summary – Click to see full sized image – abs.gov.au

PM Commits to Marriage Equality Before Christmas

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has pledged to deliver marriage equality following the vote for same sex marriage.

Gay Love Equality - news.com.au

Gay Love Equality – news.com.au

“We must respect the voice of the people. We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming.”

“Australians have spoken in their millions and voted overwhelmingly Yes for marriage equality.”

“They voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. And now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with it, to get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do and get this done,”

“This year, before Christmas. That must be our commitment.”

SSM Vote Infographic – Click to see full sized image – abs.gov.au

SSM Vote Infographic – Click to see full sized image – abs.gov.au

More detailed results can be found on the ABS website.

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Over 12 Million Aussies have Voted in the SSM Survey

Votes continue to pour in for Australia’s $122 million same sex marriage poll, with responses soaring past 12.3 million last week. 77 per cent (over 3 out of 4) of all eligible voters have now had their say according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The poll will close on Tuesday, November 7 at 6pm. Almost 16 million forms were sent out in September.

Vietnamese Gay Love

Vietnamese Gay Love

The 77 per cent return rate to the survey has outstripped similar voluntary participation votes including Brexit and the US presidential election. The return rate for Britain’s Brexit poll was 72.2 per cent. 

The Yes campaign welcomed the latest figures. “We welcome the high turnout of voters because it shows that Australians are passionate about getting marriage equality done.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised to legalise same sex marriage by Christmas should the Yes vote prevail. Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said the government would waste no time legalising gay marriage should the yes vote get up.

Rainbow Gay Flag Flying Free in the Breeze - wikipedia.org

Rainbow Gay Flag Flying Free in the Breeze – wikipedia.org

Results of the postal survey will be released on November 15.

Sources and Related Reading

Make Your Vote Count! Vote YES in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

ABS Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

Same Sex Marriage (SSM)

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CK Underwear Popular with Gay Guys in Manila

Knock off brand Calen King underwear has become extremely popular with local gay guys in Manila with some street market stalls quickly selling out of stock.

Calen King Underwear

Calen King Underwear

Here’s what some of the local gay guys had to say about Calen King underwear.

I like the great range of colours and styles… they hug my dick really well and feel comfortable to wear

When I’m wearing CK’s they fit snugly around my cock which gives me an instant hard on

Luv the tight fabric and the design makes my dick look way bigger than it is… I’m getting triple the amount of pick ups at the gogo bar than I used to get

All my gay friends have a few pairs of them. They are better than the real CK’s!

My American boyfriend loves sucking me off through the soft fabric

Contribution by Jason in Manila

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Make Your Vote Count! Vote YES in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

There’s a lot to talk about with this year’s 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. Arguments from both sides have been getting heated, fierce and dangerous.

Vote YES!

Vote YES!

By now most Australians should have received their survey forms which asks one relatively simple question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. If you have received your form act quickly and tick the YES box. Put the form in the reply paid envelope and place it into an Australia Post letter box by the 7th of November 2017.

The survey results will be published on the ABS website on 15 of November 2017. That’s just eight days after the survey officially closes.

Sample of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey Picture Below

Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey – Click to see full sized image

Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey – Click to see full sized image

Will the Vote Make a Difference?

There’s debate over how much of the population would need to respond in order to make the result legitimate. Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said he hoped the return was more than 50 per cent. When it comes to the result itself, a 51 – 49 outcome would leave the country in a “grey area” and may make it harder to get the law changed. The postal survey is not binding so politicians can still vote against legalising gay marriage even if people vote Yes. But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull believes the result will be respected in parliament.

Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality

Will the Vote be a Yes or No?

Its been months in the making but we’re finally at the pointy end of the gay marriage plebiscite voting period. The $122 million postal survey will close in less than a month and with more than 62 per cent of Australians having returned their vote, the big question is: will it be a Yes or a No? Of course, we won’t know for sure until the official results are tallied but a snap poll by Roy Morgan has given us a preview of what’s likely to come. According to their stats, it’s a resounding Yes, with 61.5 per cent of Australians in favour and just 17.5 per cent voting No.

VIDEO: Postal Plebiscite The Governments New Delay and Deter Tactic

Sources and Related Reading

ABS Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

Vote YES Campaign

What You Need To Know

Poll Shows Strong Turnout for Gay Marriage Vote

Aussie Celebrities Throw Their Support Behind Gay Marriage

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Mars Bar Adelaide Shut Down and Replaced with Oz Night Club

Mars Bar owner Andrew Hobbs says patronage has dropped about 20 per cent over the past few years as customers drift away to other venues. A frustrated Mr Hobbs, who has cut down opening the Gouger street club from four nights a week to two, says he is also fed up with complaints about cover charges and drink prices. If you don’t come in because we charge a door charge I’m sorry, but a lot of venues have closed in Adelaide and people always say Mars is an institution and it will always be here – well who knows, if you don’t support it, you may not have it much longer.

Final Night at Mars Bar - Robert Knapman Photography

Final Night at Mars Bar – Robert Knapman Photography

Unfortunately that was to be the outcome as Mars Bar announced on their FaceBook page that it’s the end of an era. It’s being closed and has been taken over by a new owner. I was determined to be there for the final night and quickly organised some friends to come along with me to enjoy the closing of the curtain together.

DJ BJ and Friends at Mars Bar - Robert Knapman Photography

DJ Bee Jay and Friends at Mars Bar – Robert Knapman Photography

I arrived with a group of 4 gay friends at around 10 pm. We were looking forward to some gay dirty dancing and to celebrate Mars Bars long history over the years. As we walked around the corner onto Gouger street and entered the China town precinct we could see a line up at the front of Mars Bar. As we got closer we noticed that the line spiraled around the corner into a side street. It must have been at least 100 meters long with hundreds of people eagerly waiting to get in. We lined up and waited patiently but after about 30 minutes noticed that the line was not moving at all and gave up and went to Mary’s Poppin in the heart of the East End. It was a bit of a disappointment that we couldn’t be there for the final night but had a wild time pole dancing at Mary’s Poppin.

The Final Kiss at Mars Bar - Robert Knapman Photography

The Final Kiss at Mars Bar – Robert Knapman Photography

Mars Bar was shut for a few weeks for renovations and has been re-opened now as Oz Night Club. Matthew Bruno, whose drag queen alter ego Shania Twatt, is the new owner of Oz Night Club. The newly re-launched club is all about glitter and sparkle. A new paint job, finding ways to better use the space, reopening the kitchen bar, upgrading the toilets and extending the beer garden are all part of the plans. Matthew could not say how much the renovations would cost but plans to roll them out over the next year.

Oz Night Club - facebook.com/oznightclub

Oz Night Club – facebook.com/oznightclub

Bee Jay the DJ and Promoter at The Mars Bar who worked at the club for over 40 years and was an integral part of its success is now spinning records every Saturday night at Venue 63. It’s a licensed bar which has cafe meals, live entertainment and a pool table and is gay friendly. They often have free pizza nights which is a huge hit. I drove past Oz Night Club a few weeks ago and sadly it appeared lifeless from the outside. I guess a lot of Adelaide’s gay community have followed Bee Jay and moved from Oz Night Club to Venue 63.

Venue 63 – Click to see full sized image

Venue 63 – Click to see full sized image

Adelaide Currently has 4 Gay Venues

Oz Night Club, Venue 63Mary’s Poppin and Pulteney 431 Gay Sauna. Also Vonni does the Edinburgh Castle Hotel every Thursday night.

Pulteney 431 Gay Sauna

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Singapore Pink Dot Gets Round The Law

On January 21 we reported that the Singapore government has clearly become embarrassed by the increasing success of the annual Pink Dot Day celebrating Gay Pride in the absence of a Parade which is banned.

The 2016 Pink Dot Participants against the Singapore Skyline – pinkdot.sg

The 2016 Pink Dot Participants against the Singapore Skyline – pinkdot.sg

Presumably in an effort to emasculate the event, last October the government banned overseas-based companies providing financial support. At first this seemed it might deal a major blow even resulting in outright cancellation. 13 companies like Goldman Sachs, Apple, Facebook and Google had been supporting the event with cash for some years. Others provided goods in kind.

Dressed in Pink

Now, though, the Pink Dot organisers have not just given a middle finger to the cheapskate mandarins in the government, they have hit the pavements and raised funds from locally-based companies. So far up to 50 companies have pledged sums between S$1,000 and S$10,000 with the total so far making up 70% of the amount required. All this before the official fund-raising campaign started on March 26.

Proudly Pink

Typical of the response of the new local sponsors is Xpointo Media which has contributed S$5,000. Managing Director Kathy Teo said, “Diversity and inclusion are important values to our company. Broadcasting our commitment to these values is good for business.”

We hope the government officials in the Ministry for Home Affairs who banned overseas funding will now have egg on their faces – their pink faces!

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Hong Kong Leadership Candidate Dares to Mention Gay Marriage

In the contrived world of Hong Kong politics, one candidate in the election for Chief Executive due on March 27 has thrown a spanner in Beijing‘s carefully choreographed electoral dance. Carrie Lam, a former Chief Secretary, recently told a radio programme she would “not rule out consultation” on gay marriage.

Really? Can we soon get married in Hong Kong? - tumblr.com

Really? Can we soon get married in Hong Kong? – tumblr.com

What? Gay marriage in Hong Kong? The religious and anti-LGBT groups immediately jumped on her. Pressed to clarify her position, she also jumped, this time up onto the fence by adding, “but if the time is not ripe for legislation and we still push for it, then this may trigger a backlash against gay people who will face hostility and discrimination.”

This later comment is so typical of the government’s views in the 1980s when it was being pressed to get rid of the old 1861 Victorian law and decriminalize homosexuality. “Chinese culture will not accept it,” was always the mantra. In government, when you come across division, retreat to well-worn if out-dated positions. Yet after it was forced by the Law Reform Commission to go down the decriminalisation road in 1991, the local Chinese community has had absolutely zero problem openly accepting the LGBT community.

Carrie Lam electioneering - South China Morning Post

Carrie Lam electioneering – South China Morning Post

At least Ms. Lam had the courage to even mention a gay issue in her campaign. If successful, hopefully she will be found to have no skeletons in her cupboard, for several nasty ones have recently been rattling the upper echelons of power.

Too many Skeletons Dancing in Hong Kong - blinddogbooks.wordpress.com

Too many Skeletons Dancing in Hong Kong – blinddogbooks.wordpress.com

Hong Kong, once regarded as one of the cleanest territories in Asia, has seen its reputation take a huge knock. It was believed the Independent Commission Against Corruption introduced in the mid-1970s had massively helped the territory all but get rid of high level corruption and achieve its enviable “clean” reputation.

That reputation is now in tatters. Last week Hong Kong’s former Chief Executive from 2005 – 2012, Donald Tsang, was sentenced to 20 months in jail for corruption whilst in office.

Donald Tsang leaving court - South China Morning Post

Donald Tsang leaving court – South China Morning Post

“Never in my judicial career have I seen a man fallen from such a height,” said High Court Judge Andrew Chan. Tsang is the highest-ranking current or former official sent to prison for misdeeds. The judge announced he had planned to sentence Tsang to 30 months in jail but took10 months off because of his good character and contribution to Hong Kong over many years.

Prior to becoming Chief Executive, Tsang had been the first Chinese in Hong Kong’s history to hold the position of Financial Secretary. He had won plaudits for the way he steered Hong Kong through the Asian Financial crisis and repulsing a sustained attack on its currency by hedge fund speculators.

Tsang’s jailing follows that of his Deputy Rafael Hui who is serving seven and a half years after being found guilty of accepting almost US$2.5 million in bribes from the city’s largest developer SHK Properties.

SHK Properties 118-storey International Commerce Centre - wikipedia.org

SHK Properties 118-storey International Commerce Centre – wikipedia.org

And retiring Chief Executive, the hugely unpopular C. Y. Leung, is facing his own legal probe into allegations of secret payments of over US$6.5 million from the Australian firm UGL prior to becoming the city’s leader, an illegal act under Australia’s foreign bribery laws.

Clearly finding a “clean” candidate for the next Chief Executive may not be easy in no longer so squeaky-clean Hong Kong. Hopefully, if Ms. Lam does come out on top, she will ensure the issue of gay marriage does not remain permanently up there on the fence.

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Bangkok’s Soi Twilight Go-Go Bars to Close?

Jupiter to Move

For several years there has been a string of complaints from gay tourists and residents about falling standards and rising prices in the famous Soi Pratuchai (usually called Soi Twilight), home to the original sleaze go-go bar that started business at the end of that soi at the top of Suriwong Road. Some seven go-go bars presently operate here along with a slew of open-air beer bars and massage spas.

Bangkok’s Soi Twilight - redshirtliving.wordpress.com

Bangkok’s Soi Twilight – redshirtliving.wordpress.com

According to a post in one of the Thailand gay chat rooms, the German owner of two of the bars, including the ever-popular Dream Boy, had a meeting with his staff last week. He announced that he would be closing his bars within two years. He is getting on in years and no longer needs to make money from the bars. Once these bars disappear, the belief is that the character of the soi will totally change and lead to the end of go-go bars in that area.

Four factors have contributed to Soi Twilight’s problems. First the rapidly changing ways guys meet guys. The apps have taken over and it is much easier now to meet a Thai money boy on-line. Why spend a hour or more in a smoky bar, spend US$25 on drinks for yourself and the boy of your choice, another $15 for the bar’s off fee, perhaps $15 for a short time room and then $50 or so as the tip to the boy?

Soi Twilight Bar Boys

Soi Twilight Bar Boys

Second, the failure of the other owners to adapt. Old-timers talk lovingly of the old Barbiery go-go bar just across Suriwong which in the late 1980s and 1990s was packed at the week-ends with up to 100 boys and a full house of customers with many standing at the doorway – a mix of some westerners but more Thais. Now Thais are rarely seen in Soi Twilight go-go bars.

Thirdly, though, economic and social conditions in Thailand have changed dramatically since the first bars opened in the 1970s. Whilst there will always be economically disadvantaged young guys seeking work in a sex industry, this is now much less so than before. Also the government has been making it very clear since 2001 that it does not approve of Thailand’s reputation as a sex tourism destination.

Hotmale, the Reincarnation of the Original Twilight Bar

Hotmale, the Reincarnation of the Original Twilight Bar

Lastly, the older westerners who always made up the bulk of the clientele are disappearing fast. Now it is younger Chinese and other Asians who visit. But their aim is not to take a cute guy off for a good time. They go for one drink, see the show and depart. Bar owners have seen off fees shrink and so drinks prices have shot up to make up the difference. US$12 for a 50 ml bottle of water?? Excuse me! The business model which worked so well for about 35 years may finally be collapsing.

Closing Time: the Twilight of Soi Twilight?

Closing Time: the Twilight of Soi Twilight?

The news is not all bad, though. The owner of the also popular Jupiter go-go bar has announced he will close in the present location and move over to Silom Soi 4 where Telephone and Balcony Bars are situated. As Soi Twilight has been in decline, Soi 4 has been thriving. This new addition may make for even more visitors to the soi.

Even better, Jupiter’s landlord wants to take back the property to try his hand at running a go-go bar. So maybe there will be two Jupiters in due course, although the present Jupiter is usually packed with Asian rather than western tourists.

The present Jupiter Go-go Bar off Suriwong

The present Jupiter Go-go Bar off Suriwong

And for those who remain interested in sleazy type go-go – i.e. a few boys on a dimly it stage who do nothing other than stare into their phones and hope you might still fancy one to get him a drink – there is still a cluster of bars close to where the muscle bar Tawan and Mango Tree restaurant is located.

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