Tsunami warning washes away Pride support in Phuket
Unfounded rumours of a bad tsunami on Saturday 28 scared away supporters of Pride march on Thai island of Phuket
A tsunami warning that threatened to engulf the whole of Phuket island in Thailand drastically diminished crowds at this weekend's Pride march.
One of the organisers, Rob Vermeer, told Gay Star News: 'The rumour was that there'd be a tsunami that would swallow up not just the coastline but the whole of Phuket. Thais are very superstitious and easily believe things like that. Some Thais came, but quite a few staff and boys were ordered back home by their mothers. In Thai culture if mother says you jump, you jump. So a lot of boys just simply left because of that.'
Despite the rumours, there wasn't a drop of water out of place at the Pride march on Saturday, but even though it was a beautifully sunny day the beaches were empty.
'We hoped we'd get 20,000 watching the parade, but it was more like 7,000-10,000 because of the stupid rumour. It was disappointing,' said Vermeer, who owns Backstage bar in Patong town.
The Mayor of Patong gave a speech on Friday night, welcoming Phuket Pride into the public domain, after being held in the gay bars area of town in previous years. And Mr Gay World 2011, Francois Nel, MCed Friday's concert.
Although the numbers he expected didn't turn out for the parade, Vermeer said that the festival will be deemed a great success if it encourages his Thai counterparts to get more involved in the festival next year. 'If we can get the Thais onboard, actively involved and going for it then we would count that as a very big success, and the first signs are positive,' he said.
Phuket Pride will be back in 2013, from Monday 22 to Saturday 27 April.