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Utopia Awards 2002

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The third annual Utopia Awards were held on Friday, November 15, 2002 at Freeman Dance Arena in Bangkok, to give recognition to individuals and organizations which have contributed to improving the quality of life for gay, lesbian, and transgendered communities in Asia. Hosting this year's Awards were the co-chairs of Bangkok Pride 2002: Anan Anpruang and Douglas Thompson. The Award ceremony was timed to coincide with the other events which made up the Bangkok Pride Festival. This year's honorees were selected from Singapore, Philippines, and Thailand.

The unique design of the Utopia Award (above right) incorporates the shape of a lotus bud, hand-glazed with the six colors of the gay pride rainbow, using the techniques of classic Thai benjarong porcelain.

all images are copyright © 2002 by Utopia Asia
except image of Bruno Forrer courtesy of Gordon May.
Please contact us for permission to reproduce.

Alex Au, recognized for lending a voice to the struggles of Singapore's gay community.

The evening's first Utopia Award was presented to Alex Au who has consistently been at the forefront of catalytic events for Singapore's gay community. He has been active in PLU ("People Like Us"), the first grassroots group of gay, lesbian and bisexual Singaporeans, to give momentum to gay consciousness and promote public discussion of gay issues. He is the webmaster of Yawning Bread which archives his frequent reports on Singaporean gay issues and other sharp social commentary. Alex also helped launch the pioneering gay e-mail forum, SiGNel, which continues to offer a safe haven for free speech.

Performer, author, actor, and role model, Khun Day.

The second honoree was Daychawut Chantakaro, a famous Bangkok entertainer and inspiring role model (also an emcee at the 2001 Utopia Awards). Day's first big stage appearances were in the cabaret at the world famous Rome Club where she quickly became a star. She went on to act in two major stage plays and appear in a hit television soap opera. Her ground-breaking autobiography, Behind the Showgirl's Curtain, was published early in 2002. In it she speaks positively about katoey (ladyboys), encouraging the public to accept their nature. Day's struggles and achievements have made her a hero to Thailand's gay and transgender communities.

Bruno Forrer, tireless supporter of the Pattaya gay community.

Our third award honored restaurateur and philanthropist, Bruno Forrer, a shining example of what one individual can do to change society. An openly gay businessman and outspoken member of Pattaya's business community for more than three decades, Bruno has quietly and unselfishly provided much needed support to Thailand's developing gay communities. Without fanfare, he has offered the resources of his business for dozens of fundraising events. He is a generous philanthropist and a role model for gay businessmen throughout Thailand. Good friend and Pattaya gay businessman, Gordon May, accepted the Utopia Award on behalf of Bruno.

ProGay's Oscar Atadero looking fabulous.

This year's final award was presented to ProGay Philippines (the "Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines"). Founded in 1993, ProGay describes itself as a "network of grassroots gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals" that conducts community forums and public protests to confront homophobia and discrimination. These have led to public debate on the ban on gays in Filipino military, legalization of gay unions, lower prices for AIDS drugs, and solidarity with international gay rights issues such as the May 2001 Egypt arrests. ProGay's current president, Oscar Atadero, accepted the Utopia Award on behalf of his organization.

Scenes from the 2002 Utopia Awards...

Singaporean artist, Bemas, delighted the audience with two witty performances.

Gordon May of Ambiance Hotel graciously accepted an award on behalf of Bruno.

Oscar and Day strike a pose.

The eyes have it: Bemas enchants a packed house.

Last year's awardees were Indonesian gay activist Dédé Oetomo, Thai playwrite and actor Wannasak Sirilar, and Malaysian AIDS organization Pink Triangle.

For more information and photos from last year's award ceremony, please click here

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