Paul Heymans moved to Bangkok from his home country of South Africa in 2012 with plans to stay for a year. He was recovering from a bad break-up and needed a change. Little did he know, he would still be living in Thailand four years later – and running Bangkok’s newest #LGBT community organization.
Officially launched this year.
OUT BKK was officially launched in the beginning of 2016. Heymans was motivated to create a different type of LGBT community that he hadn’t yet found in Bangkok. Although Thailand has very liberal views compared to many Eastern countries' reaction to LGBT activism, there wasn't much support for each other. “Not everyone wants to take off their shirts at a circuit party, dance till 5 at clubs in Silom or meet people on ‘hook-up’ apps,” Heymans told Blasting News.
Guiding the LGBT community in an new direction.
At first, OUT BKK was a small LGBT social networking group that met for drinks or dinner around the city. Every time a new event was announced, more attendees would show up. Bangkok’s LGBT community started buzzing with news of these relaxed gatherings.
Recently, Heymans organized an event called Bangkok for Orlando in memory of the victims of the mass-shooting at the LGBT club “Pulse” in Florida. He collaborated with the team at Bangkok’s Stranger Bar to publicize the event in just two days. Despite the time crunch, supporters were spilling out of the bar and into the sidewalk. People from all walks of life held hands in a big chain and observed 49 seconds of silence for the victims of the shooting. Heymans helped raise for the families of the victims through Equality Florida’s GoFundMe page by gathering donations from attendees.
We asked Heymans a few questions about his experience with OUT BKK and his aspirations for the organization’s future.
Blasting News: What has been the most challenging aspect of getting this group off the ground?
Paul Heymans: Well, you try and get a bunch of gays to come together for a single cause and we will chat again after! Just kidding! I love organizing the events but it is sometimes a little difficult to make sure the arrangements suits everyone.
BN: And what do you find most rewarding about running OUT BKK?
PH: The people I have met and the relationships I have built in a very short amount of time, and also the love and support from friends and family, both here and back home.
BN: What can we expect to see from OUT BKK going forward?
PH: I am so excited to say that I am in process of registering OUT BKK as a LGBT community organization. The idea is that OUT BKK will have two divisions. One part will focus on Social Networking Events and the other part will target LGBT issues that the community is faced with.
We are also considering taking on the role of organizing a "proper" PRIDE parade for next year. It irritates me so much that the only thing the LGBT community in Thailand, and more specifically Bangkok, has to show their pride is a LGBT film festival running for a month. I want people to become more active and realize that they have a voice and they should use it to tackle issues we are faced with.