On sidelines of APEC, ‘Gaypec’ shows off San Francisco’s LGBTQ pride

By Ann Saphir

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Drag performers in pink frills and red frocks took to the stage in San Francisco at an event local organisers hoped would be the perfect party for Asia Economic Cooperation Summit delegates in the city this week – “Gaypec”.

“It seemed to me that if an event like this is happening in San Francisco, there has to be some part of it that’s gay,” city Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told Reuters on Wednesday.

So he got with the mayor’s office and other gay politicians to organise just that; “a party here in the Castro, one of the original great ‘gayborhoods,’ to give folks from countries with a varying degree of acceptance of queerness an opportunity to come out and have a good time.”

Same-sex marriage is legal in only four of APEC’s 21-member states, according data published by the Pew Research Center.

And in at least three, gay sex is crime.

San Francisco is known for its large and politically active LGBTQ population, and its myriad gay bars, including the venue for Wednesday’s event, Beaux.

California assembly member Evan Low, addressing the mostly male crowd with his APEC credential still visible, said several delegates had pulled him aside to say they wished they could attend, but couldn’t risk it.

Most at the event, as it turned out, were not APEC delegates.

Stephanie Wong and Khoa Tran, founders of San Francisco tech startup reverylab.com, said they came because they were curious — and they thought it would offer networking opportunities.

Mark Anthony Catalan, a university student and a volunteer at the APEC summit, said he was sceptical.

“I was like, ‘what is Gaypec?’ This is not real,” he said. When he realized it was, he said, he decided to go, to “let the gay community show the world leaders we are here.”

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Sharon Singleton)