“The kids around me thought I wasn’t supposed to be feminine as a boy, so they mocked and tormented me. At 13, I had a male teacher who frequently grabbed my hands and tried to molest me in private. He invited me to his house with various excuses. I feared attending classes and my grades suffered. When questioned about my declining performance, I couldn’t tell anyone. In class 12, a boy made fun of me for the way I walked and mimicked it in front of the whole class. I complained to the teacher who made him stop. But because of incidents like that, I’m scared of being mocked in public even as an adult. My mental health was in an all-time low in college. I was depressed and couldn’t study or socialise. Fortunately, I was in a nursing school and my teachers were trained counselors. They saw me suffer and helped me recover and slowly even accept my identity. Gradually, I came out as gay to my family and friends. They took their time to understand and accept me.

With a health background, I realised I had a duty to educate people about the LGBTIQ community. Once I accepted my identity, I became increasingly aware of our issues. I knew I had to do something. In 2015, I came out on National TV. The response was overwhelmingly positive, though, for many this was their first time seeing a gay Bhutanese. From then on, I’ve worked hard to advocate for our community. I even presented a paper on a National conference with all school teachers and principals. At the end of that 10-minutes presentation, I got a standing ovation.

Despite years of education and an increasing level of awareness in our society, my family and I still face some forms of discrimination. Our neighbors and relatives often ask us inappropriate and offensive questions regarding my identity. My mother was once asked by a shopkeeper if I was a man or woman under my clothes. Dealing with homophobia can be tough and tiring. On a personal level as well as a societal level. The only way to tackle this is by educating people as much as possible.”

On the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2021, Humans of Thimphu celebrates the LGBTIQ community and allies for marching against societal judgements and working for education and awareness.

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