Myanmar's biggest LGBT event returning to Yangon

YANGON – Organisers of the fourth installment of the &PROUD LGBT Film Festival are planning to bring a gay pride atmosphere to the city, with a series of events held over two successive weekends.

The first installment of events will take place at Thakin Mya Park in downtown Yangon on January 27 and 28. Events will kick off on the afternoon of January 27 with a series of games followed by a performance from singer Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein, as well as a viewing of the Filipino movie Anita’s Last Cha Cha. The evening will see even more revelry and entertainment, including the hosting of Yangon’s famed FAB party. 

The flagship event of this year’s festival will be held on January 28 at Thakin Mya Park, when Myanmar’s first ever “Drag Olympics” will be held. The event will include three different competitions, namely the stiletto run, a hoola-hooping competition and the much-anticipated handbag throwing contest. Organisers insist that no experience is necessary, and that participants have no need to be a professional drag queen – or king. The winner will take home the &PROUD crown and sash, and hold the distinct title of the first ever winner of Myanmar’s Drag Olympics.

The evening of January 28 will include a viewing of the movie This Kind of Love, the story of renowned LGBT activist U Aung Myo Min, as well as performances from DJs and musicians.

Starting on February 1, events will move across town to the French Institute in Sanchaung Township. Over four days, the festival is set to host 23 films from 10 countries, including movies from the Philippines, South Korea and China. February 1 will feature live performances and the showing of two Myanmar documentaries that were produced for the festival. The event’s final night, on February 4, will include more film showings, followed by a discussion and cabaret performance.

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The French Institute will also exhibit photos by Myanmar photographer Ma Rita Khin, who has spent the last several months documenting the country’s transgender community.

“When people go through the transition, it is not only about the body changes, but it is also about their inner self and psychological changes,” Rita Khin told Frontier. “What I want to highlight is the hardships they have faced, but also to show their strength and courage.”

Rita Khin, whose photography subjects in the past have included disabled people and women who are survivors of domestic violence, said she hoped her exhibition would encourage more transgender people to come forward and tell their stories.

“I hope that [what happens] is that more trans people will be proud of themselves, and be able to show the world who they are,” she said.

The first &PROUD event was hosted in Yangon in 2014, and is organised by Colors Rainbow, YG events, which launched the first FAB party in 2013, and Abadi Art.

More information is available at the &PROUD website.

By Oliver Slow

By Oliver Slow

Oliver Slow is a Southeast Asia-based journalist. He is a former Chief-of-Staff at Frontier, and is writing a book about Myanmar's transition.
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