viaAlert Net, by Thin Lei Win

It was an early Monday evening and the red light district in Thailand’s capital was already heaving — full of locals and foreigners drinking sundowner cocktails and enjoying the flesh parading before their eyes. Street vendors were selling food, clothes, souvenirs and Valentine’s Day gifts.
They probably weren’t expecting a group of (mainly) fuchsia-clad men in towering heels, bouffant hairdos and sashes advocating safe sex, but that’s exactly what they got.

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” purred Thii into the loud speaker while standing in front of the punters, with one arm akimbo on the sparkling metallic mini dress he was wearing.
“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we would just like to remind you that it’s important to have safe sex. Please remember to use condoms,” he added with a slight lilt.

The punters and the female and transgender workers sitting next to them giggled and held out their hands for the free condoms that were being distributed by Thii’s colleagues.

For the next six hours, nine staff and volunteers from Thai non-governmental organisation (NGO) Service Workers in Group foundation (SWING) made their rounds at three Bangkok red light districts, weaving in and out of pubs, clubs, go-go bars, cabarets and other shows located in a maze of buildings and streets.

They spoke to club and bar owners, dancers, staff, and even food sellers out of doors with a mix of bawdy jokes and gentle cajoling about the importance of safe sex, while giving away condoms.

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