Seoul : Boys keep on swinging

27 04 2017

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When I lived in Seoul way back when, the city was stiflingly conservative (at its first ever gay pride march, participants wore paper bags over their heads). Yet even then it had a small but very energetic gay scene. All that pent-up sexual energy, hidden behind polite smiles and three piece suits during the week, would ignite on smoky dancefloors on the weekend on the poky dancefloors of “Homo Hill,” the city’s fledgling gayberhood in the district of Itaewon. Since then, this scene has blossomed to include circuit parties and go-go boys, a gay coffee house, bars called GRINDR and Shortbus, hot clubs like Gray and Looking Star, hipster-gay magazines (Duiro) and fashion brands (VEAK, Two Much,Woo Yeah), artists like Nahwan Jeon and now new party, Gag reflex. Somehow, somewhere, Seoul has turned into arguably the gay party capital of Northern Asia.

21st century boy

12 02 2017

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Meet the new face of Seoul, 16-year-old Nigerian-Korean model Han Hyun Min, who broke out at this year’s Seoul Fashion Week. Sign o’ the times.


Meawhile, in Seoul…

12 12 2016



Flashing lights and laser ghosts: the future is now

27 02 2016


Display of wildlife at the new 599 museum at Tokyo’s Mount Takao and a holographic protest in Seoul.


Military chic

9 01 2016


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Korea has a new gay magazine. International distribution will start next month, and the current issue’s theme is (topically for a country with compulsory army service), “military.”


Party time in Tokyo and Seoul

18 08 2015

On August 29th, Tokyo’s glam-fash-fag party FancyHim is celebrating its tenth (tenth!!!) anniversary – where did all the years go? See more FancyHim on the blog here.

Meanwhile in Seoul, the I:AM gay extravaganza is about to begin, a weekend-long party marathon supported by a bunch of Itaewon clubs, Club Gray and Le Queen among them.

The Day That Love Won

29 06 2015

The decision by the US Supreme Court this week to legalize gay marriage took me by surprise. Like many non-Americans I hadn’t been following the twists and turns of the legal campaign, and the news came to me out of nowhere, a sudden and unexpected proclamation. I woke up one morning to a Facebook streaming with rainbows, many of them from straight friends, and the news that America had legalised across-the-board gay marriage.

As a non-American, and a formerly gay-married person, it would have been easy to be cynical or dismissive. But I was surprised to find that I wasn’t. Instead,  was deeply touched.  A few days later the joy is still being felt and the implications are still sinking in – the long-fought-for goal, seemingly so distant, now realised. The “culture wars” have been, decisively, won. It was like a moon landing. Nothing would be the same again.

The next generation will grow up in an America where gay marriage has been the norm, and the whole public debate is now re-framed. On the one hand I have wondered in the past why gay people feel the need to be part of such an institution, and whether we can’t be creative and honest and brave enough to make our own model, something better. But, reading the heartfelt articles from gay marriage advocates online today, it is hard to argue: this WILL mean so much to gay teenagers all over the world.

They are now being shown that their lives can be “normal” too, that they can have long-lasting love and that their love will be called by the same name and held in the same regard as that of their straight peers. Of course its all just symbolic, but thats what marriage is. A symbol.

So where to from here for the gay rights movement? It will be interesting to see, and I predict tough times ahead as the lack of a clearcut goal unties the bonds that have bought the community together.

And where to for America? A country long distained and discredited, but renewed this week out of nowhere as the symbol it has always promised to be – of freedom.

One only had to compare the victory in Washington with the gay pride parades being held around the world this weekend in a cosmic masterstroke of timing. In Istanbul, revellers were blasted with water cannons and in Seoul they partied defiant against Christian intolerance.  And in America, just in time for the US Stonewall weekend, and the start of Summer, love briefly reigned. Its an exciting time to to be alive.