The history of homosexuality and transgender behaviors in Thailand has led to a complex and contradictory situation with the outward appearance of acceptance, and higher visibility of transgender people than in most countries, but with hostility and prejudice towards LGBT people, as well as institutionalized discrimination, still prevalent.
People in Thailand are tolerant and we never had any problems with being a gay couple in Thailand. Maybe we just lucky but we couldn’t remember anything unfriendly that happened to us. Usually, people just say we look cute when we take pics or hold hands publicly.
But it doesn’t mean Thailand has no homophobia. We know the local situation is not as good as foreign people tend to think. The local LGBTQ+ community is still actively fighting for the rights or even to be represented.
Thai society in the 19th century was relatively androgynous relating to clothes and hairstyle. However, at this time, colonial Western norms of behavior and thinking started to be adopted including the criminalization of homosexuality and sexuality being considered not a private matter but instead a part of social norms.
We had a big thing on social media this week when a local channel aired the popular TV series Angkhan Khlumpong but the scene with two lesbian characters kissing was cut from the episode. And things like this keep happening.
We promote the image of Thailand as a gay paradise but where discussions of sexuality in society are still taboo and there is limited sex education in schools. LGBT individuals tend to be more visible in urban settings than rural. LGBT people live within a society with strong pressure to be a good citizen and be filial to one’s family.
Don’t get us wrong, Thailand is an LGBT+ friendly travel destination. If you a foreigner, rich person, or simply good-looking, then you probably will have acceptance and tolerance everywhere you go. However, our local friends told us many stories when they were called bad words or even had a violent homophobic experience. Even Aon has faced some of this during his school years…
You may think we are being overdramatic but believe us if you are a feminine gay guy, an ethnic minority with darker skin, or overweight Thai queer, you gonna face a lot of hate.
That being said, the fight for rights is far from being over, but no one is equal until everyone is equal. Su su*, rainbow sisters and brothers!
* Susu in the Thai Language means to keep fighting and never give up.