In June, anywhere one goes, one sees rainbow flags and the vibe of celebration of the Pride Month of the LGBTQ+. On June 23, 2023, Khon Kaen University will be filled with ‘rainbows’ from thousands of people who are involved with the “ISAAN PRIDE 2023” Fair, this year being under the concept of “Equality of Isan, Equality of Sex”.
“The Center of Gender Studies of Khon Kaen University has another mission in social services – provision of assistance and creation of social conscience in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal – SDG5 (Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls). Thus, KKU is playing the key role in organizing the ISAAN PRIDE 2023 Fair with the allies in the area and the civil society with an aim to propel sex equality.”
Dr. Cheera Thongkrajai, Acting Director of the Center of Gender Studies of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Khon Kaen University explained that the “ISAAN PRIDE 2023” Fair is organized for the second year. The Center is collaborating in this regard with the civil society allies, the Student Union of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, KKU Student Council, KKU Student Union, the Art and Cultural Center, and the Division of Student Development and Alumni Relation, Khon Kaen University and external allies, including the network of LGBTQ+ and the Municipality of Khon Kaen. All of the mentioned institutions and organizations are working for equality in the society.
Open the area for attires, not excluding students….
The first year of ISAAN PRIDE, or last year, the theme of the fair was: “LGBTQ+ Rights in Education” that was aimed to call for the equity rights in academic institutions. Khon Kaen University sees the importance of this and has issued an announcement for students to dress in accordance with their gender conditions.
“If an academic institution does not have a safe zone for students to demonstrate their basic rights such as dressing as their gender conditions, then it is like we are excluding them from the education system. We therefore choose instead to open the zone for all to receive the rights of education equally.”
After the campaign in the University, this year, the theme of the fair turns to be “Equality of Isan, Equality of Sex”. The first objective is to build the image for the regional area to be the area of multiplicity, accommodating all groups, all genders, all languages, all religions, because every area should be safe for everyone.”
Belief – Culture: “Isan Ladyboys” are abnormal.
Meanwhile, building new images for Isan is a key issue of the fair. In the past, Isan ladyboys were obstructed with the local culture and belief. For example, a person born with sex abnormality will bring bad luck. There is the religious belief similar to this saying that a person was born with sex abnormality because of Kamma (wrongdoing) in the last life. These beliefs have limited the understanding of people, making them see “LGBTQ+” as strange and uncommon. However, the new generation began to understand these issues from different media and from the propulsion of the civil society. ISAAN PRIDE 2023 is thus not only celebration, but also reiteration that “Isan at present is up-to-date, equal, and respects the pride of human.”
Highlights of ISAAN PRIDE 2023:
ISAAN PRIDE 2023 Fair is scheduled on June 23, 2023 from 10.00 a.m. with the “Love Talk” Exhibition from internal and external allies of KKU. The venue is at Sala Kan of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The next session is the forum on “Gender Next Journey” at 13.00-15.00 p.m. at HS.03, HUSO Learning Center, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Khon Kaen University.
Then from 16.30 p.m. there will be the great Pride Parade that starts from the Sports Center to the Former Degree Conferral Pavilion. The parade comprises Pride Catwalk on rainbow flag. It is anticipated that there will be over 2,000 coming to the fair. The evening features shows including: Drag Show, Cover Dance, special performances by students, and Mo Lam from the “Silapin PhuThai” Band. There will also be an announcement of Pride Month by the University administrators and the network representatives.
Why is the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences full of ladyboys?
Nopparit Sitthijan, a 3rd year student majoring in political and administrative sciences, Vice Chairman of the Student Union of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences for art and culture said that 2023 is the second year the Student Union has taken part in “ISAAN PRIDE 2023”. The Student Union sees that this is a very important event that reflects the problems as well as promoting equality in all dimensions, social, sex, language, and culture.
“Why is the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences full of ladyboys? This show is by ladyboys, that parade is by HUSO ladyboys, etc. We do not want anyone to judge only because our faculty is multiple. Some may be LGBTQ+, but some may not want to limit their gender definition.”
When we talk about “Isan ladyboys”, which are not limited to Khon Kaen University, it looks like the term has been mockingly used with “fun”. The images appearing in different media, such as dramas and films, forced some LGBTQ+ to follow the social trends and expectations of many people and become “fun” as opposed to their own “self” that might not be so.
Soft Power – creating understanding of equal sex
However, when time passes, Y series have taken the role and received popularity in the digital era. LGBTQ+ has entered the society, creating new images that understand more of LGBTQ+, not only among the new generation, but some adults also open their minds to accept LGBTQ+ with more understanding.
“ISAAN PRIDE 2023” Fair is another important Soft Power that the network of civil society especially the youths can move forward for their rights and equality. At the same time, the propulsion of sex equality will be concrete or not depends on the policy makers and law issuers such as the new government. When the power of LGBTQ+ has been demonstrated, it is hoped that the new government will follow suit as they have promised in their campaign.
“ISAAN PRIDE 2023 Fair will be the area for expression of everyone, notwithstanding what gender, language, or culture. It is the zone equal for all, especially regional people. It is the manifestation of power of people who fight for their own rights and those who want to support them, and want equality of Isan, equality of sex.”
News: Phanit Khatanak