Having dreams and goals is one of the fundamental elements that made us human. It’s what motivates us to move forward. However, just because everyone can have their own dream and goals, it doesn’t mean that everyone can achieve what they wish for, especially if they are the minority or vulnerable group of society. This is a story of Vichet, an artist living in Battambang, who is chasing his dreams just like everyone else.
Since Vichet was 7 years old, he had always been attracted to art ever since he joined his first art class. Evermore, he found that arts and drawings are where he could express himself. Hence, his dream for his own career is to open his own gallery to showcase his arts and connect with other artists from around the world, so they can discuss and talk with one another. “I want to have my own art space like a gallery where artists can meet. This is my plan for the next ten years, and I have been learning about how I can achieve this.” hopefully said Vichet. Additionally, knowing how difficult it could be having no one to understand you, he also wishes to open the save place for another LGBT+. “Me and my team had created the videos to open the save place in Battambang province” stated Vichet and he also explained “In the videos, we talked about our project that we want a place to help the LGBT+ whose family abandoned them, whose family does not accept them, so we can come together to exchange ideas on what they want from the community and encourage them. ”
In the search for romance and his happy-ever-after, he also has a dream of finding this soulmate where one day he could be married with. He did have his romance once before but it was private since society could break them apart if it was to be known, despite all of that the relationship didn’t last. “When we were dating back in high school, we had to keep our relationship secret from both of our families, but I guess mine can also interpret that I was dating him at the time” explained Vichet. But he still has his hope up as one a day, his true love will arrive and together, they no longer have to care of what others nor what society has to say.
Just like any of us, Vichet had dreams, he wishes to achieve. Yet, that does not make his dreams any easier from everyone else and compared to everyone else, he had to endure many difficulties that society had brought upon the Rainbow community. “I have gone through a lot of difficulties regarding my environment where my neighbors are very discriminative. When they saw me, they called me names” said Vichet. He further added that “even in school I have never received the warm welcome from my teacher like other kids”.
Living with his family of his grandfather and aunty, he was also verbally abused. Despite his aunty being open-minded and supportive, his grandfather was very strict with him since Vichet was not like other boys. “When my grandfather knew that I am an LGBT+, he yelled at me and forced me to be a man and straight,” said Vichet. He goes on to say that “I have never said anything back and I tried to walk away when he was mad”.
With all these odds and stigmas imposed, Vichet stands strong while determined that he would make it through no matter what! “I want to make others see that I can do it, and what I am doing today will prosper” expressed Vichet. All of his life, he had stayed optimistic and converted all the negativities into strength to help him push forward and fight for his place in society. He also continued that “Ignore the words of others; when they make you hurt, you need to work hard and you must become strong.”
Chasing one’s dreams is already hard for what it is yet it is even difficult when you are in a vulnerable group like the Rainbow Community. For Vichet, he will continue working hard to achieve his dreams for his career, love, and his future while also wanting to make a change for the better of society. Although the community will still have to face these stigmas for a long while, in Vichet’s final words, he added that “Do not pressure yourself! If for now you have no one to support you, know that you still have yourself, and please try to strengthen yourself to fight for your place! Find your goals and fight for it!”.
This article is written by Phal Chankalim, a 1st generation participant of Story Corner 2020 which aims to break the stigma on LGBT+ through storytelling and the engagement of youths through dialogue and series of training on gay rights advocacy and basic journalism. Story Corner 2020 is hosted by Buzz Talk Cambodia.