“Top or bottom?” “You’ll never find true love being gay,” “How do you have sex?” “Lesbianism is fixed by sex with a man”—how about you mind your own business?
On the surface, Thailand seems to be one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly places in the world. But is it? No regulations specifically protect or provide rights to the LGBTQ+ community, no marriage equality, and no specific healthcare to support this community. This doesn’t even touch on religious persecution, backward attitudes, and “jokes''. BK Magazine speaks with LGBTQ+ people in Bangkok about the myths and stereotypes that stubbornly persist. Come on, it’s 2022.
Being gay means you’ll get AIDS.
Oat Montien, artist and founder of the LGBTQ+ Bodhisattva Gallery
It’s the myth that many people, my friends and even my mom told me. It’s not logical, but I think I know why it’s still here. I blame the media and the narrative since the AIDS epidemic in Thailand in the late 1990s.
Thailand is actually one of the very few countries in the world where you can get free PREP, but there’s a stigma. When there are still many people saying, “When you’re gay, you’ll get AIDS,” people are afraid to go get checked.
Yes, the AIDS epidemic did affect our community really badly and the number is still growing in our community, but on the other hand, it’s not just gay people that have HIV. The research that says gays have more chances is bullshit because they never did any research on straight people. They would use anal sex as an argument but that doesn’t just fall onto gays. Statistically, the people who pass on AIDS are usually the married couples, because they never check as they are married, and think they are safe. We should turn this myth around, whether you’re gay or straight: get checked, and not use it as a stigma.
LGBTQ+ people can’t find true love. You’ll never have a good family because you’re gay.
Anticha Sangchai (left), philosophy lecturer at Prince of Songkla University and painting therapist
For this myth, it’s not just straight people who tell us this. It’s even people from our community who believe this. Then it turns into a lack of confidence, and makes the LGBTQ+ people feel unstable.
Some people from this community feel that they don’t deserve true love, or are unable to have stable relationships. This is something deep rooted in our hearts, because we grew up in a society that doesn’t empower us to believe in ourselves and families taught us that love has to be binary between a man and a woman.
No one taught us that we, too, could love someone deeply and create a happy, loving, healthy family. If you feel like this, it’s not your fault at all. It’s the people in power who try to keep things the way they are and not allow things to chance. Society can be cruel. But you can try and give yourself love, take care of the relationship that you have with yourself until you feel you deserve to be loved and confident enough to love back.
There needs to be a wife and a husband in our relationship.
Amornsak “Turk” Dejhuaipai, content creator and entrepreneur and Sudy Nataraj, engineer
Straight people can’t seem to believe that people can be together just because they love each other. They always seem to think that, like their relationships, there must be some kind of transaction. The idea of marriage or partnership is so narrowed to straight people and they cannot think beyond men and the women, or how the men must pay for the women. But there are many other kinds of relationships, shapes of love. Just because you are put in the straight box, doesn’t mean you are right.
Sex with a man will fix being a lesbian/transgender man.
Thitikarn “Kook” Jaturapit, bodybuilder and personal trainer
Some men who are not open to the diversity at all, always ask lesbians or transgender men, “How do you guys have sex?” and there’s this “joke” in Thai society that goes something like this, “How are cold fingers going to win over warm vessels?” Love is not limited by gender, only people put a limit on it. Love is love and if you love someone, the sex will work out. It’s also not your business to ask us how we have sex. It’s none of your business. The bottom line is that we just have to respect each other.
Transgender women are obsessed with having sex and being touched.
For many transgender people, regardless of how they identify themselves, when they transition, they do it for themselves, not to serve any man’s dick. The universe doesn’t revolve around your dick. If you can’t comprehend this, then don’t come near us. It will make us feel safer and will make society safer.
The LGBTQ+ lifestyle is a sin.
Siritonposh, human rights, LGBTQ+, and sex worker activist
Religious beliefs affect a lot of families, especially very religious families. The parents try to find a way to “handle” their LGBTQ+ children. Every time we try to push for marriage equality, the religious always get involved in the conversation—even though there’s no explicit teaching that being gay is a sin in the Bible. This kind of belief is backward already. My family is still trying to get me to marry a woman.
It’s easy to have access to the transitioning process for transgender people.