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A look at various queer festivalsHomosexual Festivals: Beyond Prejudice and Discrimination

The Post reported on the first Queer Film & Video Festival in the 298th issue. People still had a misunderstanding of this sexual minority in 1998. The first Queer Film & Video Festival was not so successful. "Homosexuality doesn't touch Korea emotions, films which have it as a main subject are excluded from the ratings system." related laws have a lot to do with it. How has the attitude toward homosexuality changed over the past? After Hong Suk-chun came out of the closet last year,  Ha Ri-su, a transgender person, appeared on TV this year. Since then, people quit being hush-hush about homosexuality, while more people were concerned about them. Diverse homosexual festivals show us that people are interested in sexual discourse. The 2000 Seoul Queer Film & Video Festival and Rainbow 2000 and 2001 ended successfully. The Post explored various queer cultural festivals and the Australian homosexual festival, Mardi Gras.................................................................................................Ed.

About Seoul Queer Film & Video Festival
Advanced countries where homosexuals' legal right are guaranteed have had large international homosexual film & video festivals for a long time. However, such film & video festivals were prohibited in Korea because of Koreans' deep-seated Confucianism, which considers homosexuality a taboo. In 1998, an international homosexual film & video festival was held for the first time in Korea by Queer Archive under the title "Seoul Queer Film & Video Festival." "Queer" is slang for a male homosexual, and it is used contemptuously. Nowadays, ironically, homosexuals use the word for themselves. The first festival was an adventure to improve homosexual rights, though it was not successful.
In September 2000, the second "Seoul Queer Film & Video Festival" was held under the catch-phrase "Your Own Pleasure, Your Own Century." More countries and more people participated in the festival than in the first festival.
Park Ki-ho, an office director of Queer Archive, said, "My friends and I were tired of watching movies that didn't relate to us. We wanted to watch movies that we could identify with. This festival was started from that experience. The festival's movies show homosexuals' daily lives as well as their dreams hopes. Many people still misunderstand homosexuality because of their indifference. We believe that movies are a good means to lead people to a better understanding on homosexuality."
In the meantime, various programs were prepared by Queer Archive, for example, "Poofs Go to the Theater" and "Dykes Go to the Theater," which are dramatic films for lesbians and gays. (The words "poof" and "dyke" refer to a homosexual man and woman respectively.)
 They also prepared "Mapping Indie Queer Moving Images 1-2." Part 1 was held in conjunction with the Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. Part 2 included lesbian and gay film shorts from Australia and New Zealand that debuted at the Independent Lesbian and Gay Film Assistance Project of Australia's Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival.
"This festival will continue until the day when homosexuals live in harmony with the general public. We want everyone to enjoy this festival," said Park Ki-ho.

About Rainbow 2001
"Rainbow," another festival for homosexuals,  started last year. One purpose of the festival is to improve homosexuals' human rights and change people's prejudice about homosexuality. This festival focuses on homosexuals living in harmony with the general public. That's why this festival includes a parade in downtown Seoul.
"Rainbow 2000" was held at two different places, Daehakro and Yonsei University. About 150 people prepared for the festival and exhibited posters of films about homosexuality by homosexuals. The Yonsei festival included the crowning of the best drag-queen and drag-king. ("Drag-queen" is used to indicate a gay male in female attire and "drag-king" means a lesbian in male attire.)
"Rainbow 2001" was held in September around Hongik University. The 2001 festival was larger than the last one due to new programs such as "Branding Korean Films as a Queer Movie." In the program, the film "Bungee Jumping of Their Own," which caused heated debate over whether it is a film about homosexuality or not, was judged by the audience as a queer movie.
At the same time, "Rainbow 2001" continue last year's program including a parade, dance party and small forum on homosexuality.

[caption]
The Rainbow Flag is the international symbol of homosexuality as well as the "Rainbow" festival's logo.
In 1978, Gilbert Baker of San Francisco designed and made a flag with six stripes representing the six colors of the rainbow as a symbol of gay and lesbian community pride. Today it is recognized by the International Congress of Flag Makers, and is flown in lesbian and gay pride marches worldwide.
According to Baker, red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet represented, respectively: life, healing, sun, nature, art, and spirit.

About Mardi Gras
"Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras" is held during three weeks in late summer every year. Sydney during Mardi Gras is a hot-bed of homo-passion.
This festival was originated from a political demonstration commemorating the Stonewall Riots in 1978. (Stonewall is a British organization that tries to improve the legal rights of homosexuals, and the Stonewall Riots motivated politicians to change laws that treat homosexuals unfairly.)
During the festival, homosexuals as well as tourists visiting Sydney can enjoy various kinds of programs such as plays, performances, recitals, screenings and exhibitions. "Mardi Gras Fair Day," for example, attracts thousands of homosexuals to Victoria Park in Sydney. It gives gays and lesbians an opportunity to meet other homosexuals.
However, the highlights of this festival are its parades and parties. The parades start at sunset with the thunderous roar of dykes on bikes while about 25,000 ticket-holders join in the parades. The parties after the parades encourage harmony among all the revellers, gay and straight.

Kim Hye-jeong  bbejeoi@hanmail.net

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