South Korea: Seoul LGBT festival sees record numbers

More than a hundred thousand LGBT people and their supporters filled Seoul Plaza on Saturday to celebrate the 19th Seoul Queer Culture Festival, a record turnout according to its organizers. The festival runs from July 13 to 22 and this year, “Seoul” was added to its name because Daegu, Busan, Jeju, Jeonju and Incheon have hosted or are planning to host their own pride festivals this year.

Seoul’s festival had the theme “Queeround,” signifying that there are LGBT people all around us. According to its organizers, a record number of about 120,000 people took part in the festivities despite the sweltering heat, which reached a high of 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit). The Seoul police did not release an estimate of the crowd size. 

Over 100 booths run by religious groups, parents of LGBT people, and student groups as well as the LGBTQ Youth Crisis Support Center greeted participants with rainbow flags, unicorn pins and fundraisers. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, and queer is often used as an umbrella term for this community.

Across the street from the plaza, religious groups gathered to protest the festival and LGBT people in general. About 500 police officers and 100 Seoul city officials were dispatched to prevent any serious conflicts between festival-goers and protesters. The protesters held signs saying homosexuality is a sin and lay down on the ground to block the Seoul Queer Parade, which was led by a motorcycle club called the Rainbow Riders.
 Read more via Korea Joongang Daily

Tens of thousands of people descended on Seoul Plaza on Saturday to celebrate this year's Seoul Queer Culture Festival. In honor of the annual event, we asked a group of LGBT people what the Pride event means to them.