New Korean website tries to protest LGBT rights; is ironically a useful LGBT resource
A new anti-LGBT organisation recently launched its own website which it claims exist to work towards ‘ethically cleaning’ the streets of Seoul free of those nasty homosexuals. The site provides updates on the actions of LGBT campaigners around the world such as the evil ‘gay mafia’ who have taken over countries like the US and Germany and attack and discriminate against anti-LGBT Christian protesters.
Presumably by locking them in their BDSM dungeons and playing Gloria Gaynor over and over until they submit. I don’t know. I stop trying to translate after I saw they were unironically using a cartoon from popular comedy website The Oatmeal.
But the website is so thorough in its attempts to provide all the latest updates of the horrors of homosexuality in Korea that it’s actually, ironically, a pretty useful resource for anyone interested in the goings on in the Korean LGBT community.
As Huffington Post Korea points out there are a number of sections of the website which could be useful for LGBT individuals in Korea.
The first is a fairly in-depth glossary of terms used in the LGBT community. These include English slang terms like gaydar, top and bottom as well as Korean terms like ‘Queen Unnie’ – meaning the oldest and most experienced in a group of gay men – and ‘splitting a gourd’ – which means, well, having sex. It also includes most of the essential terminology related to sexual and gender identity.
They also have a fairly extensive calendar of events organised by and for the community including film festivals and party nights. The purpose of this calendar is to organise protests against the presence of Korea’s sexual minorities in Seoul by gathering outside the city’s biggest LGBT events. As this behaviour can make people feel threatened and unsafe, it’s not such a great thing but it could potentially helps to raise the profile of LGBT events in communities where they are not widely discussed.
Finally there are two maps: one showing which areas of Seoul are ‘gayest’ with each district labelled with the number LGBT venues it contains and another which shows exactly where each LGBT business is situated. The three districts which host the most also have their own pages which has a detailed listing for each business.
This one is particularly helpful as a website called Korea Pink Map which was essentially a listings of exactly the same kind of businesses and events highlighted by LGBT OUT was suddenly blocked by the Communication Standards Commission earlier this year. The only reasoning that has been given for this is alleged ‘illegal activity’ which has not been identified despite homosexual content being removed from the list of harmful content which is censored by the government in 2004.
This all forms part of recent intensifying of attacks on Queer spaces in Korea by public bodies in South Korea recently with the government’s latest sex education guidelines banning any mention of homosexuality after pressure from extreme Christian fundamentalist groups. There have also been private companies infringing on LGBT rights as you can read in detail over at The Kimchi Queen.
Although all of this is not good news for the LGBT community who are facing high levels of hostility in Korea right now, in the long term it could prove to be a step in the right direction.
Until very recently homosexuality in Korea was seen widely as something that did not exist in ‘pure’ Korean society and was imported by foreigners. As recently as 2012, there were pastors going on TV to say that there were no gay people within the Korean population. Now vocal anti-LGBT protestors are focussing more on the dangers importing of corrupt Western values of tolerance allowing LGBT people to live their lives openly. This is a subtle but important difference.
The loudest bigots know they can no longer argue that homosexuality does not exist in Korea so they are forced to argue that it is immoral for people to live their homosexual ‘lifestyle’ and that anal sex destroys the body and soul (which of course completely ignores the large number of LGBT men and particularly women who do not do it and the vast swathes of straight folks who do).
Why is this?
In the words of one of the most virulent anti-LGBT voices, Reverend Kim Kyu-ho of the Counter-measures Committee on Homosexual Issues:
“The reason is — who would complain if they kept their event private? In the past they kept it small and quiet, but now it has grown too large and has gotten too much attention.
“In an open space and where anyone can see them, parents, youths and even children, they perform obscene acts, dances, and performances. These acts damage efforts to keep Korean culture pure and untainted. It damages the public good.”
In some ways, the LGBT community is becoming a victim of its own successes as it continually boosts its profile and increasingly wins the acceptance of the younger generations. As happened in many Western countries in the past, as more queer people were visible in society the stronger the backlash became.
Section 28 – a clause in the law which prevented Local Governments from ‘intentionally promoting homosexuality’ in the UK was in large part in response to some local libraries buying in the Danish children’s book “Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin” which told the story of a little girl living with her father and his boyfriend and was designed to broach the subject of homosexuality with children. This led to 15 years in which LGBT stories were often excluded from exhibitions in public museums and teachers were scared to discuss non-hetero sexualities with their students.
But in some ways it also help crystallise LGBT activism in the country, giving people a legitimate cause to rally behind which could be framed around inclusion and identity and not necessarily sex – a difficult hurdle to overcome in a fairly sex negative society. Now the UK (and more specifically Scotland) usually tops the list of best places in Europe to be gay.
Likewise the increasing backlash is a sign anti-LGBT campaigners feel their backs are against the wall and that they are slowly losing the battle for, in particular, young minds. The venom with which they speak and the ways in which they try to interfere with democratic processes through continuous attempts to unduly influence government, police and private business may well turn more people against them as time goes.
And so, in their attempts to ‘clean’ Korea of queer people, the creators of this website may end up helping them become more visible and accepted in Korean society.
And while they’re waiting for that, LGBT folks in Korea can always use it to find a cool new place to hang out.