The government of Myanmar gave approval for an LGBT gathering for the first time this weekend, allowing the &Proud festival to be held in a public park in Yangon.
Organizers have historically held the film and culture series in secret, given the nation’s ban on homosexuality, a holdover from British colonial rule.
The &Proud festival spans two weekends and features LGBT-themed films and performances. Attendance more than doubled this year, with about 6,000 people showing up Sunday. The primary goal, organizers say, is to educate the public about Myanmar’s queer community.
“I would say this is not just for the LGBT community,” festival co-director Hla Myat Tun told AFP. “This is for the whole country, acknowledging equality and basic human rights.”
WATCH: With drag queen Olympics, film screenings and a rainbow-clad choir, Myanmar's LGBT festival comes out for the first time in a public park as the country cautiously moves towards more tolerance pic.twitter.com/bXzCxdHhY5
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 29, 2018
This year, screenings included A Simple Love Story, a romantic drama about a trans man and his trans girlfriend, and the documentary This Kind of Love, about Burmese gay activist Aung Myo Min, who was in attendance.
“People were really surprised to see gay men like me on stage, giving a political speech,” Min, 52, told AFP.