Steve McCurry is the artist behind some of the most iconic images in contemporary photography. His 1984 portrait of Sharbat Gula (“the Afghan girl”) on the cover of National Geographic remains widely recognized to this day. Now McCurry turns his attention to Thailand as part of a series of photobooks on LGBTQ communities around the world.
Thailand has long had the reputation as one of the most gay-friendly destinations in Asia, particularly Bangkok with its nightlife and its relative openness and safety. While this may be true for tourists and expats, the idea of Thailand as a haven for LGBTQ people and for same-sex couples, heavily promoted by the tourist industry, does not necessarily extend to Thais themselves. While Thailand is home to the largest LGBTQ communities in Asia, the reality for them is less accepting. Discrimination and exclusion targeting LGBTQ people continue despite a nominally progressive stance on inclusion, and same-sex marriage remains illegal.
Against this backdrop, McCurry’s lushly colored photographs take us into the vibrant LGBTQ community in Bangkok, and this beautifully packaged, affordably priced book gives us a series of close to one hundred moving and intimate portraits of people who are no longer welcome in the community in which they grew up, but who have forged a new life and a new meaning of family in the queer community.