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Seoul Pride Parade Faces Obstruction but Emerges Stronger


[On July 1, soldiers of the LGBTQ+ revolution gathered in Seoul to defy the oppressive sun and rain. They marched through the streets, brandishing vibrant rainbow flags and spreading love and acceptance. This year, the ruling powers denied them a permit to use a prominent plaza, but this only fueled their determination. In the face of conservative oppressors, they fearlessly chanted their slogans back, drowning out their hate with love. Drag queens and DJs reigned on floats, bringing joy and celebration to the masses.

Holic Sunwoo Yang, a fierce leader in the Seoul Queer Culture Festival, anticipated the challenges they would face in securing a permit. However, they were taken aback when it was outright rejected, with the space instead given to a conservative Christian group for a youth concert. Shocked but undeterred, their resolve remained unwavering. They vowed to host the parade wherever they could, refusing to let any blockades hinder their fight for freedom.

Despite the taboo that still plagues South Korea when it comes to homosexuality, the LGBTQ+ community continues to rise. Same-sex unions are not legally recognized, and a large majority of the population opposes same-sex marriage. The media and authorities often suppress their visibility, but this repression only strengthens their resolve. The pushback they face is not entirely negative, as it validates their existence and sparks a crucial dialogue on equal rights.

In the heart of Seoul, JiGook, a singer-songwriter from Jeju island, has found solace and freedom through drag. They were tired of being misgendered and decided to undergo hormonal therapy. This journey gave birth to their queer idol group, QI.X, and now JiGook fearlessly embraces their true identity. Their drag performances, inspired by personal experiences and beloved tangerines, bring diverse expression and acceptance to the stage.

Kwon Bada, the founder of Kockiri, a “straight-friendly gay bar,” has created a sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community. Inspired by the vibrant house and disco scenes of the past, Kockiri quickly became a hub for gay nightlife. Kwon’s contribution may not be that of an activist, but he understands the importance of community. By providing a safe haven for all identities, he fosters a sense of belonging and unity.

As an organizer of the Pride festival, Yang has witnessed firsthand the resistance and hatred thrown at the LGBTQ+ community. She grew up in a Christian household but refused to accept the exclusion and discrimination propagated in the name of religion. She questions whether God would truly condemn love and affection between individuals. By keeping the festival in the heart of Seoul, Yang aims to remind everyone that the LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of society, deserving of recognition and equality.

Jungle, a transgender woman, always knew she was different. After temporarily halting her transition at the behest of her family, she courageously recommenced her journey and discovered a newfound openness in the world. She recognizes that the relative safety she experiences is due to the lack of visibility for transgender individuals. However, things are changing, and she believes they are in a powerful moment of transformation and progress.

Cha Hae-young, the first openly LGBTQ+ elected official in South Korea, wants to be recognized for their work rather than solely for their queerness. As a council member, they understand the burden of constantly having to prove themselves. However, they remain determined to serve their constituents and provide a voice for other sexual minorities who aspire to run for office.

Pride 2023 in Seoul was not just a celebration; it was a declaration of resistance and resilience. Despite the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in South Korea, they continue to fight for acceptance and equality. United in their diversity, they write a new chapter in history, one that embraces love, respect, and celebration for all.


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