An open letter to Thailand from a member of the LGBTQ community

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I have not written many articles as of late. My current position compels me to work almost 24/7. However, there is this feeling rumbling in my heart. The feeling that the world has, once again, failed me and those others who share my identity. The disappointment is so strong that I had to do something about it.

Many straight people may not have ever questioned their own sexual identity. It is something you do not feel nor encounter. It is just the thing that naturally unfolds since the day you were born. You know that you are attracted to the opposite sex. And the society propels you to behave a certain way. (So, in some respects, we are all victims.)

When you wake up in the morning, you do not have to wonder if you will fit in the societal norms of heteronormativity. You just know that you will. Therefore, it’s only natural that you do not share the pain that I suffer. So, please hear me out before you think that we – the LGBTQ+ community – are asking a lot.

I remember growing up having no role models to look up to. I knew deep down in my heart that I was different. I didn’t know what exactly that made me feel that way. I just knew. Logically, what ensued was the feeling of alienation that kept me awake at night, wondering if I will ever be that person the society demands of me.

As I grew older, I became more comfortable with my sexuality. But the comfort did not come until I was in my mid-twenties around the time when the US SCOTUS legalized same sex marriage nationwide. I started to know, finally, that I, too, have a place in this world.

If only I am patient enough, the time for Thai LGBTQ+ will come.

Oh boy, how wrong was I?

I came back to Thailand in mid 2020. I followed on my words (that I promised myself while in the US) that I would be vocal. I spoke up. I advocated for LGBTQ+ rights. But no matter what I did, I felt like what I did was inconsequential if not meaningless. Why wouldn’t I? Look at what the strongmen in this country have to say about us.

In November 2021, the Constitutional Court ruled that nothing is unconstitutional about barring same sex couples to marry. One of the reasons was that legalizing same sex marriage equals to the erosion of marriage institution altogether while suggesting that LGBTQ+ individuals are people who are uncertain about their sexuality and must be treated differently from those who have “normal” sexuality. It was not a surprise, though, when the ruling panel consisted of 9 judges all of whom are cis straight male with a career spanning decades perhaps even before my existence was brought about into this world.

Not only did the ruling eliminate our fundamental right, it reaffirmed our place in this country – that we are not equal.

One may say I am a bit pessimistic. Perhaps, might I suggest, I am a realist.

Straight people take these rights for granted. You know that when you are in a mutually exclusive relationship, and when the time comes, you can get married. And no one – and I mean no one – would ever dare to question the merit of your relationship. The act of commiting oneself to another until the day death to both of you part naturally ensues when your relationship gradually develops to the point that it makes sense to legally commit (it could be days, months, or years). By then, you can just go to the district of your choosing, register your marriage and made it be known officially that you are in love.

No one will question how long have you been together. No one will question if you really love each other. And no one will question if your marriage is just one of the means you employ to reap the legal benefits from this institution.

I cannot say the same for the LGBTQ+ folks. We get these questions a lot. In almost all of the public debates, the scepticism about the genuinity of our relationship constantly comes up. We are the subject of public ridicule which casts our relationship as a charade and that our relationship won’t last. Observing many of these debates, it hurts me to say that these arguments persist – no matter how much of the advocacy work we have done.

It is painful to wake up everyday knowing that we stand a little bit lower than the heterosexuals. But in some respect, it has prompted us to fight for our rights. Sometimes we may appear aggressive. Sometimes we may appear impatient. That’s because we do not have rights to take for granted. We have to fight for what we deserve. And it’s been a long and thorny road. But we will keep up the fight.

So when you hear us speak about our rights, please understand where we come from. Or, at the very least, please have some sympathy.

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