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.
Papada Kittichuangchot (Mother)
“When I was young, I wanted to go to school but there was no chance as my mum put me to work, helping with family business. I carried that complex with me of wanting to go to school growing up. So with my two children, I gave everything I had and did whatever I can to ensure they got the highest education. When they graduated they got decent jobs and had successful lives. Getting an education was my only aspiration and expectation of them. I asked them, but never forced them, and they did it for me. My child graduated from Thammasat University and is now working at an embassy. When people ask, I’d say with pride, “My child works at the embassy and she speaks English fluently” (beaming with joy). I can show off my kids.”
“In other aspects of their lives, I leave them alone. When she was young, she wanted boy’s clothes. I bought them for her. In her university days, sometimes she dressed as a girl, sometimes as a boy. I never said a thing. When I learned that she had a girlfriend, I had no issue with that either. If they’re with somebody that makes them happy, and as long as it doesn’t affect her work, then that’s fine by me. I was forced into marriage by my parents. It did not work out and finally we parted. I don’t force my kids when it comes to their private matters.”
Thanita Wongprasert (Daughter)
“Ever since I was little, I always wanted to dress like a boy. On shopping trips, I’d pick up boy’s clothes and my mom bought them for me. During secondary school, we had to keep our hair short. My mom would say to the hairdresser to give me a boy’s cut. She never said I couldn’t do this or that.”
“I’ve always been confident that I’m not attracted to boys and I would tell my classmates that I like girls. Even though I never seriously told my mom, I never tried to cover it up either. Up till now, I have not officially told her. Perhaps it’s not necessary. I think deep inside she knows because all my life things have always been about girls. I don’t look like this every day. Some days I look masculine. Other days, I look feminine. I can’t really define myself whether I am a tomboy or a lesbian. But then again I don’t bother trying to define myself.”
“My mom’s style of raising me made me confident of who I am. If she can accept me, then I don’t really care what others think. If we talk about challenges [for LGBTI people], then that’d be the absence of law to recognize same-sex union in Thailand, which we desperately need. Recently, I was admitted to a hospital. It turned out that my partner couldn’t sign documents on my behalf. The doctor had to call my mom. Fortunately, things were ok. Opponents [of same-sex union law] said Thailand is not ready for it. People still don’t understand, but I understand because it happened to me. Thai law only recognizes marriage between a man and woman. My partner’s rights are not protected in the absence of such law in Thailand. We’ve been together for 4 years and we plan to get married in the UK. But it still means nothing when we live in Thailand. We want to see this law in place to protect our rights here too.”