Rainbow Seoul

FE21E3E9-6F47-45F2-9DDF-EE1CB9C59CEC.pngJune is Pride month and my partner and I were lucky to start the first of June off with Seoul Pride. I’ve been attending Seoul Pride for several years now and each year brings more people to celebrate together.

While there are protesters on the outside of Seoul Plaza,  their numbers are dwindling. The first time I saw them I was a little afraid because many of them were aggressive. They’ve spat on Pride goers, shouted manically into their megaphones, and they’ve thrown themselves onto the road to prevent the parade from going on.

My first year, I saw a group of protesters beating away furiously at drums. They tried very hard to drown out our music. Seeing that made me wonder: how much hate or self-hate do you have to have to go out of your way to protest Pride? Rather than feeling scared now I feel sorry for them. I can’t imagine how many of them are closeted or what kind of abuse they’ve experienced. Seeing them on the parade route they looked rather pathetic. They shouted at us and held up their archaic signs telling us we were going to hell and that we were sinners. They threw a lot of hate at us and they tried to drown out our festivities, but hate can never conquer love. None of the 70,000+ Pride attendees retaliated in any way. We only shouted with joy and waved our flags proudly.

Seoul Pride 2019❤️🧡💛💚💙💜Being in the parade and seeing so many people attend made me feel very emotional and brought back memories of my first Pride. I knew I was bisexual years before I came out to anyone, but it was when I went to Pride that I felt I belonged. I knew that this community was a place that I had always belonged, even when I didn’t know it.

Our rainbow family is beautiful. We have so many expressions of sexuality and gender that all tell different stories of the human experience. We are all beautiful and we don’t need to be anything but ourselves. During Pride month and always, remember that love is love for each other and yourself.

Happy Pride 🖤❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

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Finding Pride – Seoul Pride 2018

6E132E3C-94B6-48F9-8790-23D0F1247EF1Seoul Pride came around on July 14th this year and I was more excited than usual because it was my partner’s first time at Pride. We knew it was going to be hellishly hot, so we made sure to stay hydrated and rather than staying for the whole festival we arrived around 2pm.

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Waiting to cross the street to enter the festival🌈

A9A2D273-61D4-4B1A-8A98-9C5D987DFE9EEach year that I have attended has had many participants, but it was definitely a lot more crowded than in the past. The crowd was so large that I could hardly see any of the booths inside. Seeing so many people in attendance made my little queer heart sing. Despite all obstacles and difficulties they were there making a stand as a queer person or as an ally.

One of the few booths that we were able to get to🌈

I didn’t know that the Amsterdam Rainbow Dress would be at Seoul Pride, but I’m glad that it was there. It’s imporant for us to be aware of what other queer people go through in countries that don’t have laws to protect them. My partner and I decided to take a picture near the dress, but because she isn’t out yet(neither am I😅) I had to cover her face. We both hope to be out to everyone one day, but for several hours that day we were able to hold hands, kiss each other publicly and we were recognized as a couple. No strange looks or hate from anyone inside❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

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This woman’s sign is saying not to get the mark of the beast😂

We walked around and decided to go outside of the festival grounds to see what the protestors were up to. I wanted to see how many hateful people decided to show up this year and it wasn’t that many. This is my 4th Pride in Seoul and the protesters numbers look as though they are dwindling while our numbers keep growing. I actually feel sorry for them, because among them I am sure there were people who are closeted and afraid. There were probably others who are oppressed by the dogma of their religion and of course there are those who are just hateful. I’m sure the complexities are much deeper than this, but they must live very sad lives to put that much effort into trying to stop others from being themselves and living life freely.

Waiting for the parade to start🏳️‍🌈

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One of many lame signs from the protesters

 

Yes, you are loved❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

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Just a small portion of the parade☺️🏳️‍🌈

It was hot and we were tired, but we survived the heat and had an amazing time. We left feeling physically tired, but spiritually high. The energy that everyone emitted was powerful, full of love, pride and unafraid. We were there to demonstrate our right to exist and celebrate our differences. No matter what your sexual or gender identity is, you have a right to be you. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are loved. Love is love is love is love❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

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In Celebration of Buddha – Lotus Lantern Festival(연등회)

5E1A9572-E1D8-4E26-B04D-76920232BDA6I have always enjoyed going to festivals. I love the atmosphere that they have. Everyone comes together to experience a few hours of joy and even adults forget the cares of the world and for a few moments everyone is a child again. Over the weekend my partner and I went to the Lotus Lantern Festival(연등회). Despite the rain, many people still attended and were able to enjoy the parade.

FCE4347D-AF86-4F0F-9A2A-B0C5F2CA6AE0The reason I love this festival so much is the history behind it. It is very old, over 1,300 years, and it is a celebration of Buddha’s birthday. Thousands of visitors come to Seoul to celebrate together, no matter their religious beliefs or background. And it feels kind of magical to see all of the lanterns lit up making their way through the night.

When we arrived I was worried that we wouldn’t have a decent spot to view the parade. We were a little late and it was raining. Also, I’m on the shorter side(159 cm) so I was sure we would be in the back where we couldn’t see anything. Our chances of having a good view in a crowded city seemed slim, but thank the Goddess we were able to stand near the front behind a considerate family that sat the entire parade. Bless that family.

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C5F4367C-E4DD-4187-ADE4-B3A50FA5CF3FIt was raining, but that didn’t stop the participants and those of us who stood on the sidelines. It was wonderful to see how those in the parade were still happy to walk through and greet everyone happily. Many of them gave away their own lanterns to people that they passed by, which always brought a smile and joy to those people.

07DA371B-03FE-4243-A535-E95E4BF54F6AWe stood beside a lady that thoroughly enjoyed herself. She made our experience more enjoyable. She yelled out to the people walking by and gave them blessings and thanked them for being part of the parade. She asked for high fives, which she received, and she commented on how wonderful each group was. She had a childlike joy that was infectious and despite the rain my partner and I laughed and had an even better time. Thank you, joyous lady.

There were also Buddhists from other countries that participated in the parade. There were groups from Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. All of whom were wishing everyone peace, joy and thanking everyone for coming.

There were so many different lanterns to see that it is impossible to describe all of them. Each one was beautiful and different from the next.

A fire-breathing peacock and a dragon boat! It doesn’t get much better than that.

And that wasn’t the last of the birds(these were roosters) and dragons. We got more! The others were bigger and even more colorful.

C414297B-430A-4DBE-8CEB-9DA095AE7BD6A tradition that has lasted for over a thousand years. May it last a thousand times a thousand more until time is no more spreading peace and joy.

13 Beers to Try – The Great Korean Beer Festival 2018

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I remember not liking alcohol and only drinking to get drunk. I didn’t enjoy the taste and it was only a means to an end. However, that changed when a roommate offered me some of their beer. I tasted it and I was surprised. It wasn’t bitter. It was actually light and refreshing. I decided to give beer a chance and I started trying out different beers. I realized that I actually liked beer. Now I’m not a beer connoisseur, but I do have an appreciation for beer and the craftsmanship that is involved in brewing beer. Fast forward several years and here I am at my second beer festival in Seoul.

I love this beer festival! I went last year with a good friend of mine and I am so thankful to her for bringing me. This year I came better prepared to take pictures and notes of the beer that we had. Before we could get stared we had to buy tickets. This was optional, but I think it’s a better value than outright buying the beer at each booth. The cups they give you are 6oz each, but I think it’s the perfect size to sample each beer and get a good feel for the taste of each one, without getting shitfaced. There were 2 ticket options so we got both.

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We decided to start from the front of the venue and work our way back. The first beer we tasted was a Czech beer, Merlin Cerny. This was my partner’s favorite. It was a stout so it was bitter, but it was slight and it had a rich aftertaste. My partner was excited about trying it and tasted it before I could take a picture.

Next stop: Goose Island. We(my partner) really wanted to taste the Duck Duck Goose because it’s an ale with tropical fruit, peach and pineapple flavor. It sounded really interesting, but they unfortunately ran out so we had the Urabn Wheat Ale instead. The Urban Wheat was light and had a slight fruity flavor. The sign said citrus, but it didn’t taste citrusy to me. More of a sweet, fruity flavor, but very light. It wasn’t a sweet beer and it still tasted like an ale. I generally like Goose Island beer and I’ve never been disappointed with any of their products. It’s not my favorite, but I think it’s a solid beer that you can rely on.

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Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Beer – I’ve had many grapefruit beers in Korea, which are just grapefruit flavored Cass. They’re usually too sweet because they’re trying to mask the flavor of a subpar beer and this reminded me of that. I was surprised because Germany is known for their great beer and I’ve liked all the German beers I’ve had, but this was too sweet and tasted more like a cocktail than a beer. The line was also really long so it wasn’t worth the wait and reminded me to not follow the crowd.

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Platinum Craft Beer Oatmeal Stout – My partner and I alternated between ale and stout to balance out the flavors so we wouldn’t be influenced by the aftertaste of each beer, but I really wanted something bitter after that last beer, so I chose the stout. I’m usually more into ale but I liked all of the stouts we tasted and this one made my top 3. It had a deep, rich flavor and it wasn’t bitter and it had no bitter aftertaste.

Gorilla Brewing Co Raspberry Wheat Ale – My partner didn’t really want to go to this booth because there weren’t really many people lining up, but I wasn’t going to let one beer go untasted. The initial taste was a little sour and bitter. The sourness was subtle but it lasts long. The aftertaste slowly dissipates, but I felt that was a good thing. While the flavors weren’t particularly strong, I felt that this indicated quality ingredients and good brewing technique. It was a little flat, but I think that it’s a great beer for summer because it’s kind of refreshing. Also, it’s something you can drink for a while without feeling bored of the taste.

The Hand and Malt Brewing Company Mocha Stout – We didn’t have a ticket for this booth because my partner accidentally used it at another booth without that booth noticing(we kept the ticket as a souvenir). We bought a cup, which is bigger than the taster, and it was worth it. I’ve had this beer before because they sell it at the Shake Shack in Gangnam and I love it. The initial flavor is very mocha then bitter. The bitterness stabilizes and the other flavors diminish, but I like the bitterness in this stout because it still has flavor to it.

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We took a much needed food break because I didn’t want to stumble around drunk and I wanted to taste the beers. The food wasn’t great, but it sobered me up a bit. I looked a hot mess, but I’m sure no one noticed.

After we took a rest we went to the Ark booth and had Last night. I wasn’t really into this ale. It had a fruity bitter taste, if that makes sense, and the flavor disappears quickly. I felt that it was a forgettable ale because it doesn’t have a taste that distinguishes it from any other beer. It’s not something I would willing drink again.

Brewdog Punk IPA – My partner and I both liked this beer. When you first taste it the flavor intensifies, then comes down slowly. It has a long lasting flavor so I would drink this beer slowly. It’s definitely not something you want to throw back on a night out. This beer is meant to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Brau Breitbach BB Stout – This one was just ok to me. I thought the bitterness lasted too long and the flavors weren’t very well balanced. Even though they topped it with a lot of foam it was a little flat. I don’t know anything about their ales, but I pass on this stout.

Brewery 304 Cinema Houston Stout – This was my favorite beer of the festival. It was chocolaty, but not overpowering or sweet. The bitterness actually intensifies and then slowly melts away. It was very creamy and smooth and not overpowering like I feel most stouts are. I am definitely going to find a store that sells this beer. It was the best stout I’ve tasted.

Art Monster Ultimate Luck – I thought that this ale was refreshing and very light. The aftertaste lasted very long, but it still remained fresh. I think this is another beer that’s great for summer because it doesn’t make you feel weighed down and it remains light. I’m going to try it agin on a hot day and see how I feel about it then.

The Ranch Saison De Siegel – This ale had a long-lasting flavor. It’s a little difficult to describe the flavor because it felt very complex, like there was a lot going on, but it was well balanced. My partner said it made her mouth feel a little numb like a spice that they use in Northern Chinese cuisine. We both felt that it wasn’t the best tasting beer, although it was good, but it was so well balanced that it made my partner’s top 3.

Jeju Beer Company Jeju Wit Ale – I didn’t really care for this one. I’m not sure if they have other brews but this one was the only one on the menu. It was carbonated well and it does taste better than the cheap local beers we’ve had before, but it wasn’t different or special. The only real difference in taste were subtle, but nothing that made me want to drink more.

After several hours and 13 beers, we were finally ready to go home. The festival was still crowded and there were a few hours left, but I was very satisfied with the day and super proud of my cup collection. It may not seem like a big event or something special, but I felt blessed to have spent the day doing something that I enjoyed and sharing it with my partner. Part of my path is enjoying life and sharing experiences with the people I love. I cherish those memories and I hope that I can continue to share new experiences with my partner.