Thailand is no stranger to colorful protests, but on Saturday 25 July, there was a political protest like no other.
For the past weeks, students have been organizing protests across Thailand and making three demands to the government: stop harassing the people, draft a new constitution, and dissolve the parliament.
The older generation of traditional values widely condemns the protests. Former army deputy spokesperson Colonel Nusara Pataratorn called them ม็อบมุ้งมิ้ง (cutesy mob). She meant to dismiss the protests as childish and irrelevant. Her comment went viral, and the term is now widely used by conservatives who stand against the changes called for by the students.
But of course, if you go tongue & cheek with the younger generation, they will hit right back, and that’s what happened last Saturday.
With the hashtag #ม็อบไม่มุ้งมิ้งแต่ตุ้งติ้งค่ะคุณรัฐบาล (not a cutesy, but a flamboyant mob sir, Mr. Government), the LGBTQ+ community took to the Democracy Monument. They issued the same three demands and added others in their fight for equal rights in society, including marriage rights.
Chulalongkorn University students Sugreeya “Mindmint” Wannayuwat and Siraphop “Raptor” Attohi, both 21 years old, are the leaders of the protest.
We spoke to Mindmint, who’s currently studying at the Faculty of Education.
How did all of this get started?
Raptor has always wondered what it would be like if there were a kra-toey (effeminate homosexual) protest. After the student protest on 18 July, he tweeted that as a joke, and it went viral.
Raptor and I participated in the flash mob at Skywalk earlier this year when the court dissolved the Future Forward Party, so we are on the same page, politically. I contacted him and asked if he was serious about doing a kra-toey mob.
So the next day, which was a Wednesday [22 July], we went to the House of Heals to research how to make a protest fashionable. Raptor is really into drag shows and says that it’s a form of art and is beautiful. He even said the scene [drag shows] could be even better if officially supported.
The show inspired him to an idea for the protest.
Raptor thought of the hashtag, and we spread the words via our social media accounts. At first, we thought it was going to be just our friends, but it went more viral than we’d thought.
Do you worry about not being taken seriously?
There are many ways to do a political movement. Just because some protests don’t come across as serious politics doesn’t change the real agenda of what they are trying to fight for. Everything in our lives is political.
The point is, what people can take back after participating in a protest. Did they learn something? Did they go home wanting to learn more? A protest doesn’t have to be radical or academic.
I would consider it a success if people see it as “fashionable” or “pop culture,” it would be easier to spread the message to a broader group of people. We want to make political issues more digestible.
As long as you know what your agenda is and what you’re fighting for, it’s okay.
In the past few decades, young Thais are not known to be politically active. What has changed?
I’m going to link back to the hashtag #ให้มันจบที่รุ่นเรา (let it end with our generation). In the past six years, my generation grew up under the dictatorship of a military government. We have been suppressed, but we have been patient because we were only in high school. But now we are grown-ups. We are about to enter the labor force and be integrated into the Thai economy as professionals.
I don’t want people to see this protest as just a political movement. More importantly, we are fighting for our future, for the kind of society we want to live in.
The older generation built a future [the 20-year national strategy formulated by the military government in 2017] for us, but it’s not a future we want to live in.
It doesn’t make sense for those people who are almost 90 years old to make the 20-year national strategy.
What can we expect to see in the near future?
We want to host workshops on making protests fashionable. It seems like a lot of people have different ideas for what kind of protest they want to do. If possible, we would like to teach other people how we did ours.
I also want to organize an education-related protest, since I’m studying to become an educator myself.
In the long run, we want to get drag queens to read books for children in schools. The goal is to teach children about diversity.