Tuesday, March 9, 2010

They're coming to port! Hide the women... er, the men!

I couldn't help but chuckle out loud at the headline in the Korea Times: 'Love Boat' for Gays to Dock in Busan. I don't know what was funnier, that they awkwardly exoticized as a "Love Boat for gays" or that the headline sounded not-so-vaguely like a warning.

The Korea Herald carried the same story — "Cruise ship with 710 gay men aboard to call at Busan port" — which also sounded a bit like an admonition to stay away. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Except that the real reason that's so prominent in the KT and the KH is that South Korean society — or at least the youth culture — is increasingly curious or admiring of homosexuality culture, looking at gay culture as hip, cool, and worth emulating... up to a point.

Whether that spells acceptance of actual gay friends or colleagues is an entirely different matter in this country that invented "don't ask, don't tell" when it comes to one's own sexual orientation. That seems to me to very different from the overt homophobic violence that has been commonplace in many parts of the West, even in much of the US today, but it's not acceptance and most gays probably feel compelled to hide that part of themselves from a lot (most?) people they know (not to mention that Korea is not free of violence toward homosexuals either).

Anyway, there's nothing really to quote from the articles since they're just straightforward news of their arrival and departure, which confirms my guess that this is a curiosity and — for the conservatives or the socially squeamish — a warning. I just wonder what they're expecting to happen in Pusan. Maybe they'll all be heading for the phallic-shaped tower.

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