Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Lesbian Scene In Bangkok

I remember asking about whether or not there was a gay and lesbian community in Bangkok. Obviously there are gay gogo bars and lesbian sex shows, but that is hardly what anybody would call a healthy and vibrant queer scene by any stretch.

I was told that no, generally Thai gay people don't have a "community" per se: That most gay men meet through friends, work, and general social activities.

Lesbians, I was told, didn't even exist in Thailand as far as anybody knew. (Pui's friends, lovebirds Muay and Noi obviously tell a different story.)

Obviously that isn't the case anymore. This New York Times article covers Bangkok's (albeit new, and apparently very-non-butch) lesbian scene. The three bars mentioned are Lesla, Shela, and Zeta.
Several nights after the nonviolent coup, a crush of cheering women crowded around the stage at Shela, a lesbian nightclub near the city's major downtown park, Lumpini, where a popular singer, Palmy, was performing. Fans crammed the balcony, imported whiskey was flowing at every table and a lone tom, local slang for a butch lesbian, was dancing by herself behind the pool table.

Coup or not, it was just another night out for Bangkok's puying rak puying, or women who love women.

Five years ago, this scene would have been unthinkable. Lesbians either met each other at non-gay establishments or through word-of-mouth parties and restaurants. But thanks to the rapidly expanding Thai Internet, and a growing number of younger, more self-possessed lesbians, two nightclubs and several weekly parties catering exclusively to lesbians have opened in Bangkok in the past two years.

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