Have we been waiting too long for a realistic storyline of native Asian gay men coping with their sexual health issues? The answer is yes. Despite efforts to expand the visibility of LGBT individuals on mainstream TV series and webseries, there’s still not a lot out there that truly empower sexual health and rights of gay men who are living in Asia – the region that’s progressing sluggishly, if not the least, in standing up for health and rights of its sexual minorities.
The tide, however, has turned. GAYOK BANGKOK The Series, a webseries following the lives of six diverse gay men living in Bangkok and their drama – relationship, career, family and, most of all, sexual health – in a manner that Asian gay men can truly relate with has premiered on February 14 on TestBKK’s YouTube channel.
TestBKK is APCOM’s creative HIV testing campaign project that has been revolutionarily destigmatizing HIV testing among young gay men with its viral YouTube videos in 2014 – a total of million views, as well as with their impactful outreach activities in Asia’s largest gay circuit parties (GSongkran, White Party Bangkok and Sundance Party) in the past two years. Colaborating once again with TRASHER Bangkok, Thailand’s illustrious LGBT-friendly filmmaker group, TestBKK is promising another big and unconventional gay-oriented health intervention with its GAYOK BANGKOK. A month after the release of the first episode, TestBKK’s Yo
TestBKK has been generously supported by Elton John AIDS Foundation together with the USAID LINKAGES Project managed by FHI 360 and its latest project is poised to convey health messages in a way that no other gay webseries has done. While showcasing multiple HIV knowledge, from HIV risk to the importance of regular testing to PrEP awareness to harm reduction for chem sex, GAYOK BANGKOK will paint a diversity of gay communities beyond the typical physical tribes – serodiscordant couple, true love seeker and pleasure hunter, prude and the sex positive individual, and more.
“[GAYOK BANGKOK] is a fruition of our aspiration to consistently reach young gay men with new platform of information and interesting contents to feature key health issues such as [the ones relating to] HIV testing and treatment,” said Midnight Poonkasetwattana, APCOM’s Executive Director.
“The audience will see many relevant facets of gay storyline that will uncover myths relating to gay men and the sexual health problems, among many other life difficulties, they face on daily basis. Even I myself learned a lot of new health knowledge from working on this [project],” said Kanit Piyapapharakun, one of the actors in the series, concurring with Midnight’s testimony.
By the end of the final episode of the series’ Season 1, TestBKK has garnered 42K Facebook page fans and 20K YouTube Subscribers. Eighty percent of them are young MSM aged 18 to 24 years old, making TestBKK’s the country’s largest (online) database of young gay men, which are often rarely outreached via conventional offline HIV outreach. With a feature of online advertising on Facebook and YouTube, TestBKK’s HIV messages deliverance is indubitably more far-reaching, yet still target-oriented.
The filming of Season 2 is expected to start later this year, with more novel and relevant HIV messages captured in the storyline.
For media contacts and further details, kindly contact Safir Soeparna, APCOM’s Senior Communications Officer at SafirS@apcom.org