In the western region of Cambodia, there is a wonderful land called “Battambang”. A land that is known for her admirable natural beauty and the smile of her people. However, not every smile is filled with warmth and happiness because some hide a sad tale that seeks love, support, and acceptance. This is a letter from the heart of one of the interviewees from Buzz Talk Cambodia’s Story Corner 2020.
Dear Beautiful Readers,
My name is *Sombo, and this is my story. When I was young, I noticed that I had a gentle heart and gestures, but this is not the feat that all boys had. And I find myself attracted to feminine things. Yet, sometimes your uniqueness is what others proceed to be different and abnormal.
To fit in with my social norms, I decided to change. I started to change myself to what people expected a boy should do, but the person that everyone sees was never the real me. However, the pain of trying to change myself had pushed myself into hiding knowing that my-truth, myself, and my-love could not be accepted by the public.
As I kept myself hidden from the rest of the world, I was saddened, and all I could tell my family and friends was that I was having some problems which I could never tell the reasons why. In my head, all I could do was ask myself “If they knew who I am and what the problems were, would they abandon me? Would they still treat me as usual? Would my family still love me?”. Of course, I could hide them from normal people, but not my close friends nor my family, especially my mother.
My closest friends had already known what my secret was when they started to notice me through my actions and speech. They knew who I was, but at that time they pretended not to. So when I decided to come out to them, I was gripped with fear as I was afraid to be disgusted by them if they knew who I was. As I spoke my truth, the opposite had happened. They had accepted me for who I am and still stayed by my side with love and support. They are my inspiration to continue my life-journey. Now all that left was to tell my mother who I really am.
As time passed, there was another unexpected event that occurred. One night before I left for work to Phnom Penh, I was sleeping in the same room as my mother, and we began to talk about a lot of things until:
“When will you be married?” asked my mother.
“Do you know about me, mother? You have been looking after me since I was a child, how much do you know about me? I do not think I can marry any women in my life.” I suddenly replied.
As we kept on discussing, and she kept asking for my reasons why I cannot be in love with a woman, she finally asked the big question.
“Are you in love with person of the same sex?” asked my mother
“YES” I said with sorrow and relief.
“No matter who you love, you will always be my child” said my mother
Ever since that night, I felt so grateful that I could overcome my family and my friends’ obstacles, and I am so joyful with my life today, especially if people ask me about my sexual orientation, I am not afraid to tell them who I am.
To all my wonderful rainbow readers who are still in the closet or are considering coming out, please do not let your thoughts be the obstacles that prevent you from being yourself. We should not live our lives based on other people’s words and expectations as we also have the freedom to choose what we want to be.
To all my beautiful readers, please remember that there is no difference between us since we all are human beings. You cannot judge and discriminate against people of the rainbow community. Open your heart and accept our truths.
P.S I am so blessed to be myself, and I will appreciate that you accept me for who I am.
*Sombo is a made up name by the writer as the real name of the interviewee was changed to keep their anonymity.
This article is written by Ompornitka Se, 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.