See when you’re gay, its real easy. Black or White. If the person you like is gay, there are good chances. If the person you like isn’t gay, no stress. The stressful part is falling in love with someone who’s somewhere on the wide range of grays.
– Chilean Film ‘In the Gray-scale’.
Someone very close to me asked if I should consider getting married – to a woman and have children. The question wasn’t to discredit me being gay but out of fear that I would have no one to take care of me in my older age. It was a question I didn’t expect him to ask me given that he knows I’m gay. The question unexpectedly took me by surprise and kinda shocked me at the same time. Of course I didn’t take the question too well. To be honest I was angry, confused and in tears. My emotional beacon was sensitive that day and so a question like this hit me out of blue to which I least expected it form someone as close to me as he is.
But what really hurt is I thought 14 years of living in Cambodia has given me some sense of self worth and respect without people having to think I need to get married to a woman to have a sense of who I am and self security. I didn’t need to justify myself with his question but it hit a nerve because it reflected the relationship he and I have with each other. He has always been someone important to me and it is clear that we both love each other however that love is defined. He saw me in tears and apologized. He didn’t realise the impact and sensitivity of the question and its effect on me. I wasn’t angry at him I was more surprised. We are close enough to talk to each other on personal matters but somehow, that day, I felt very distant as if I didn’t know him. In that instant moment we found ourselves at a distant from each other, physically, spiritually and emotionally. It brought me to tears and he cried too. I knew he didn’t mean any malice or bad intent but it definitely hit a nerve.
After some reflection I understood the context of his question. His question came from a very Khmer world view where marriage and having children is an important milestone in ones life. I knew then that maybe I overreacted with his question. I tried to see it from his perspective. Love and marriage here in Cambodia is not as clear cut as it would be in western influenced countries but it was clear that his love for me was more out of concern then anything that negated my own gender and sexuality. I had to forgive him and explain how I saw his question and the effect it had on me. It was a lesson we both learnt from each other becoming all the more wiser with how we see ourselves as men of different cultural and ethnicity, gender, religion and social backgrounds.
I carried this question in myself for a few days turning and churning in my head. It wasn’t until I spoke with him again and shared my deeper feelings upon this that I finally began to understand the intent of the question. He was right. I do need someone to care for me. I would very much like to get married and have children. It doesn’t mean I am not who I am. It means that I am more than the gender binary we are socially forced into and adhere to. Why can’t I get married to a nice Khmer man and we could adopt children? I would like that very much!
There was a profound deepness and spirituality in the moment of the time. Sometimes my view of the world does not always resonate with his world view. And I understand that we are on different ends of what marriage means to both of us.
Alike him there have been many friends and families here who have wanted to me to get married to a Khmer girl more for the sake of providing a secure home and family to her and myself. Marriage isn’t just a commitment of love but it is also a way to provide financial security to both the girl and her family. And as much as I agree with this there was no way I was going to marry a girl just for these reasons. I had to be honest to my friends and I had to be honest to myself. Although some Khmer people and families are accepting of me being gay they couldn’t see me beyond having a relationship with a man other than just being a close intimate friend. In their minds having a wife and children still reign supreme. And I wasn’t discrediting the bond of marriage no way! Its just that I didn’t want to live a lie and I wasn’t going to lie to anyone else.
I asked my friend if he thinks Khmer people are open minded to the fact of me being in an open gay relationship. He said he doesn’t think so. He said not all Khmer people are accepting of same sex relationships. It is really up to an individual to be open-minded. And although he wants me to be happy he said people are still conservative and not as open as we might think. And I had to agree with him on this matter. Nonetheless he told me that he just wants me to be happy and wanted assurance that I have people to love and take care of me. I told him that people like him in my life is enough to feel that I have been taken care of but of course it was more than that. He smiled and looked quietly into my eyes. I knew that although we are very close to each other his road journey in life differs vastly from mine. There are times when we will travel a road smoothly together and there are times when the road will take us on separate and rough terrain where we have to figure things out for ourselves. He and I often talk about who we are and how we see ourselves in this light. Nonetheless his question had a lasting effect on me and I will never forget our conversation and emotions of that day. He and I became all the more intimate and closer then we had anticipated from that time onwards.
Will I get married? Yes! But only to the right man! And I’m not ashamed to say this on my blog or any other social media outlet. Who that man is only time, love, faith and hope can say. It will nonetheless be the happiest day of my life and I’d love for you all to celebrate it with me when that day comes. Peace!
I want to thank all my Khmer family here who have accepted me and love me for who I am. Without you I will never be able to live my true self. Thank you.