A sibling connection is one bonded-string that ties siblings, and the love between brothers and sisters is unconditional. It is natural for family members, especially siblings, to be supportive, caring, and encouraging toward one another. But there are times that social stigmas can break this bond, this is a story of Sokkhom and his sister who broke this string.  

Born and raised in Siem Reap, Sokkhom is a 28-year-old graphic designer living in a city where “coming out as a LGBT+ individual is completely alright”, he said confidently. Sokkhom was born with supportive parents who supported every decision he made in life. “When I told my parents about [my sexual orientation], they were normal and fine, and my mom said follow your life, just don’t do drugs and don’t do bad things while my dad cared more about the life [his kids] live”, he described. Living under this environment, unfortunately, there exists a few narrow-minded people with persistent prejudice and discrimination on LGBT+ people, destroying the valuable family chain and relationship one has from birth.

His parents are very open-minded and encouraging toward their children as long as they live in a good and happy life. Sokkhom has three lesbian sisters, two of them are very understanding while his oldest sister, a child from his parent’s previous marriage, is a completely different scenario. “She does not like me at all, and she kept gossiping with our neighbors and saying bad words directly at me.”, he said.

“You are a useless person and a stupid gay who old men sleep with for free”, she shouted at him.These words are like a blade thrusting into his heart, harming not only his feelings but also a typical relationship between siblings. The words from his sisters made him feel imprisoned because she has damaged his reputation everywhere since he was young. “I have an impulse to slap my sister and my neighbor on face”, Sokkhom expressed it angrily. He yelled back at her, and she got mad. 

The depressed and frustrated feeling grew deeper when his mother died. His mother had distributed properties equally to her children, but his sister was not satisfied with what she got. Thus, she drove miles just to harass him on the funeral day. “I was already sad for what I lost, and there was one sister who kept saying bad things about me and suppressed me”, he disappointed. He became more depressed and despair, and he continued “I used to have a thought of committing suicide to follow my mother”.

It is her mother’s last words that save him from death, but not from feeling better. He said “my mother has exhorted me a lot, to take care of the house and live a good life. If I went after my mother, it would be unfilial and disrespectful”. After years of discrimination, devaluation, and malicious words, “I could not hold my anger anymore, and I fought my sister physically”, he vented. His action did not make him feel any better, and he also regretted and knew his mistake. It is her sister that makes him to be this kind of person. “She doesn’t deserve to be my sister, [and] I don’t recognize her as my sister either”, he cried.

Until now, he has not spoken or connected with his sister anymore. Their relationship has grown further and further, which is regretful and nothing could bring it back.

The tie between siblings has been loosened only because of him being a part of LGBT+ community, and him being his true-self. The disapproval from family, especially ones’ siblings, breaks the heart, the relationship and the family bond, making them separated and alienated. But please remember, we are the owner of our life, “Don’t care much about other people and what they say, do what makes you happy, what helps you to move on in your life”, he urged.

This article is written by Kyhok Yeh, 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.  

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