Tagged: thailand

Emil, Translator, Bangkok, Thailand

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Emil, in his own words: “Being gay means everything to me – far more than just the fact that I am a man who prefers to have sex with men. Being gay shapes every part of my life, from my body to my mind to my relations with friends and people in general. Everything I do is gay. I work out and keep in shape because I’m gay. I have mental issues because I’m gay. I have the most fabulous friends because I’m gay. And although being different is sometimes difficult, I wouldn’t have it any other way – I love being gay.

Coming out was quite challenging for me. My mother is deeply religious and she had a hard time accepting that I was gay. Eventually she got over it and now everything is peachy, but it was a struggle. What’s really quite interesting is that I used to be so grateful for her acceptance of me as a gay person, whereas now I’m more like: well, it’s actually your duty as a mother to accept your children the way they are. Why should I be grateful for being accepted when my straight siblings are not? That is BS. Don’t get me wrong – my mother is absolutely amazing and I love her with all my heart, but I don’t love her more just because she accepts me for who I am.

Successes? I’m a meticulous perfectionist and I’m never satisfied with anything I do, so I don’t really do successes. But I guess speaking five languages fluently and receiving an all-covering scholarship from the Japanese government to do my master’s degree would – in the eyes of some people – count as successes.

I was about 21 and I was living in Tokyo. On New Year’s Eve, I met a guy from the UK and I fell in love with him (or so I thought, at least). We kept in contact for a while and I finally decided to go and visit him in London and then bring him back with me to Sweden for a week. Since I didn’t have an apartment in Sweden, we were supposed to stay with my mother, so I had to tell my parents. And I did. Via e-mail. Heh. I thought that the big problem would be my dad, so the e-mail I sent to him was of epic proportions. It basically said that if he couldn’t accept me for who I am, then he might as well get out of my life. To my mother, I just wrote a short message saying something like: “I’m bringing a boyfriend back and we’re staying at your place. Deal with it.”

My dad wrote me back and told me that he had known for quite some time and that he was super offended that I thought he couldn’t accept me as I am. My mother was shocked and went Old Testament on me and asked what would happen after death when she would be in heaven and I would be in hell. I suggested that there probably would be payphones both in heaven and hell, which she didn’t find as amusing as I did. In the end, I never brought the guy to Sweden. We had a fight on the third day and I burned his tickets and stormed out of his apartment Zelda Fitzgerald-style. But I was out and that was that and now it’s all good.

(The gay community in Bangkok is) Amazing. The whole city is very gay-friendly and the gay scene is big, vibrant and fervid. It’s absolutely fabulous and I recommend everybody – gay, straight, bi, trans, queer – to visit Bangkok and explore this celestial city.

The first sentence sounds cliché, but this is what I would tell my younger self: just be yourself and the rest will work itself out. Don’t worry about what others think and get out of that small city as fast as you can! And learn how to fight – you’ll need it. Oh, and go to the gym as often as humanly possible – the gay scene is not very flab-forgiving.”

Safir, HIV Technical Expert, Bangkok, Thailand

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Safir, in his own words: “Being a 26 years old gay to me means: 20 years living in fear that I would end up in hell and while I was still on earth, I would be #foreveralone because of being brainwashed that God would only give a man a female soulmate (thanks to my conservative Muslim upbringing, including nine years studying in Islamic school) followed by 2 years learning that I’m not alone and not everyone/everything condemns homosexuality (thanks to a new life in Europe that I pursued while I was studying) followed by 5 years feeling awesome to be what I am (as my life here in Bangkok for the past few years is free from stigma and surrounded by open-minded people).

My successes was when I got in to the United Nations. I started as an intern two years ago and now I still cant believe that I’ve really been working with them ever since. I came from a very local uni and I was competing with kids from elite universities around the globe. Heck, I didn’t even know if I took the right master Programme prior to my internship. I do still have some insecurities with my English while working with the colleagues who are native speakers. But that’s great. I mean, that’s the only insecurity I have now and I no longer have insecurities of my sexual orientation in the office. It’s very different when I worked in an Indonesian company. I kept fearing that they would’ve bullied me if I was open about being gay.

What’s also great about my work at the UN is that, as a HIV technical expert, I’m working for the human rights of people living with HIV and key affected populations, including gay men, which is something I’ve been passionate about since I grew up. Growing up in a non-gay friendly environment really does unleash my human rights advocate side.

I haven’t come out to my parents yet – but I’ve done it to my Facebook friends. I was in IKEA with friends, they took a pic of me coming out of the showcased wardrobe and I posted that pic on my Facebook (with the caption:” just coming out of the closet”). Bam!

(With regards to the gay scene in Bangkok) This is a tricky question. I am already hearing somebody shouting at me because my answer is stereotyping the gay scene. I find the gay scene in Bangkok, in terms of nightlife, divided into two neighwhorehood: “sticky rice” AND “potato and rice” gayhoods. Or maybe not so much on what kind of race you’re into with, but more on ‘whether or not you speak Thai.” Sticky rice playground is what people refer to “local gayhood” (e.g., Ratchada, Ramkanhaeng) – where finding English-speaking Thai boys is much harder than in the ‘international’ one (e.g., Silom). I eat all kind of carbo, but I prefer the “Sticky rice” playground to the other. I can still feel the Thai’s land-of-smile manners there. no matter how packed the club is, the boys will still say “sorry” (in a very polite Thai expression) if they bump you or step on your feet.

Outside the nightlife scene, I feel that there’s no other exclusive gay scene in Bangkok. Most of the “scenes” are integrated with the non-gay ones. This just shows how Bangkok is much more progressive than other big cities in Southeast Asia.

(Advice I’d give to my younger self) You might still not have Grindr (or a Smartphone), but you are not alone. Gay people exist. Not just in the porn videos you secretly hid in the folder named “Homeworks” in your old PC. And the best part is, many of them are beautiful and full of inspiration, and they love you they way you are.”