I recently wrote about my experience during the Seoul Drag Parade on my blog and in it, I mentioned coming across a ‘hater’. As we were casually strolling along, a guy came up and screamed at us about being evil because we support homosexuality. That was bad, it made me feel horrendous being met with such ignorant hatred. I’d heard about the resistance or ‘phobic groups’ during Seoul Queer Culture Festival, which is a much bigger event, but I didn’t expect the size of the resistance.
The bad things about Seoul Queer Culture Festival
We hopped off the subway and I immediately sensed something was wrong; it was just this electricity that made me feel unsettled. We started spotting the protesters posters and they’d even made fans that read NO with stick figures of two boys and then two girls holding hands. When you flipped the fan around it said a big YES with a boy and a girl holding hands. They were all religious people, let’s just get that out the way, and their messages were all about how homosexuals were damned. It wasn’t ambiguous at all, there were signs that read: “Homosexual is a sin – repent!!”
For me, it wasn’t the posters or what they said; it was the thousands of protesters and their anger. They had loudspeakers and were SCREAMING into them. I had never seen this type of anger directed at the community I loved and it made my heart ache. It gives you an insight as to what people go through on a daily basis and why they’re not always ‘out and proud’. There were HUNDREDS of police stationed between them and us. There have been reports and alleged video footage of protesters pushing the police trying to get at the ‘evil queers’. During the march, the protesters followed us for most of it and some were just individuals with signs sweating profusely as they ran alongside us spreading the word of god.
It was, at times, stressful. You didn’t want to be at the edges of the march because you didn’t know what would happen. Bear in mind that this was my first march with such a large resistance and it did unsettle me. In saying that, I never once wanted to abandoned ship or even felt offput by it – if anything, it made me more determined to stand my ground.
Now let’s talk about the love and beauty of Seoul Queer Culture Festival
I saw a preacher standing with a rainbow scarf and a sign that read, “God loves Queers”. He held a microphone and told the crowds how Jesus loves them and that they weren’t damned.
I saw parents supporting their children in a march hoping to free them. Some were wearing t-shirts with words of encouragement on them while others waved the iconic rainbow flag. Recently, I watched a video of Korean parents offering hugs to queer youngsters in a bid to prove that not all Korean parents will reject you. I felt my eyes well up at the sight of them and I sent them every ounce of love I could muster, they are heroes to me.
I saw people being free. There’s this weird energy that we tap into when we’re ‘home’. We relax and become our true selves. I felt that energy around me yesterday. There were no sideways glances or twitches of judgment; just thousands of people loving one another and loving their time here on earth.
I saw brands not caring about judgment. The wonderful brand that is Lush was there in full force (as were others but they weren’t that familiar to me). They had a stand, a photo booth, merch, dancers and even a truck that rode throughout the march blasting music. You are an incredible brand and you’ve just acquired a new lifelong customer. Taking a stand like that in a conservative country is risky but it speaks volumes about their mission of ‘character over popularity’.
I saw hope. There were more people than ever and the diversity of the people thrilled me the most. I walked amongst different generations from different countries and no one was being an asshole to one another! There was only love and acceptance.
It gave me a look at how life could be if we led with love and if there was no judgment. What a beautiful world that would be, right? It’s not the real world, but for a day, inside those fences, it was the real world – and it was beautiful.
I am so happy to have gone to Seoul Queer Culture Festival and I cannot wait for more just like it. #LoveWins