Humans of Bangkok: Kowit Phadungruangkij

To commemorate International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) 2017, the World Bank partners with Humans of Bangkok to create a series of inspiring stories to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate the families and relationships that LGBTI people were given, created, or chose, in all their diversity, in Thailand.  “I belong to an older generation, brought up with the idea that being gay is some sort of anomaly. As a child I wasn’t sure. I started observing my identity when studying in university and then at work. Still… I was in denial because deep down inside I tried to hide it. When people said ‘Is he gay?’ I felt offended and I thought to myself, NO, I am not gay. I told myself that I’ll have a normal life one day – getting married, starting a family.” “At one point I had a girlfriend. We were happy with each other, and it lasted a year. Did I try to fool myself? I can’t really say. It sounds funny but what opened me up to the world was actually the internet. Through the internet, I was able to see this type of relationship between men. I went into chat rooms and that became an entire new world for me. During the days, I went to work. At night, I went into chat rooms. The internet was a space for me to express my other identity.” “Gradually I learnt… and gradually I accepted my own identity. By that time, it was clear that I did not fancy women. So I began dating a man. I spent a long time trying to embrace my own identity. It was a gradual process. One day I told myself that even though I don’t fancy women, there is nothing wrong about myself!  That’s the first hurdle I overcame. The next hurdle was to tell people I am close to. I told my best friend and his response was “you held it inside you all these years, aren’t you frustrated?” Nobody around me made an issue out of it but actually scolded me for taking so long to tell (smiles)!” “Now about my family. At that time, I was using my older brother’s computer to surf the internet. So whatever websites I visited he surely would know. My sister told me before that “Whatever you are, mum and dad surely can accept it.” My mum and dad were probably suspicious but we never really had a serious conversation about it. When I brought home my current partner, I used it as a way to confirm my identity with them. They accepted us at the family dining table and we also arranged for our two families to meet. We think that’s de facto acceptance on their part. No words were necessary.” “The environment played a big part in self-realization. Initially, I worked in a not-so-open office setting. Then I moved to the magazine industry, where there’s a greater degree of openness. Had I been in this setting from the start, I probably would have come out a long time ago. Being in a family that can accept this makes me feel normal. Telling my best friend was like tearing down the walls that I built to protect myself. Once those walls shattered, there was no more barrier. My life and work now fuse as one. Having overcome these hurdles, I no longer get angry or upset at what people say. They just don’t bother me because people I care for understand me.” “I believe that when we don’t need to use our whole life to suppress who we are, we will be free, and be able to release our full potential. It feels darn good!” 

from World Bank Search – NEWS


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