Paul, who’s mixed American/British, was born and has been growing up in Bangkok. Together with his GSA team, Paul is campaigning to empower their peers to stand against homophobic bullying at school. The year-10 teen chatted with APCOM about his opinion on the last Thai IDAHOT event and his role in GSA. Read his story below.
My parents were always made sure that I didn’t think less or more of anyone, regardless of the differences. They would very often make the analogy of liking food when it comes to discussing differences. It is completely normal for someone to like or dislike a certain type of food. In fact no one thinks twice if someone says “I only like meat and I don’t like fish.” No matter what race, gender or sexuality you were, it simply didn’t matter. It is just a part of who that person is.
Every summer my parents and I go back to the United States to visit family. One summer, while walking down the street in Manhattan, I saw a large rainbow banner paraded by people wearing matching tops and holding “gay rights support” clipboards. When my parents told me that there was going to be a gay parade I thought they were joking. This wasn’t because I thought it was wrong, but because I was never exposed to sexual orientation being talked about so openly, let alone being paraded. This got me asking questions: why are some countries are still behind on making the LGBTIQ community an openly talked about topic?
I am heterosexual and I do think it’s wrong if LGBT individuals can’t open up about their sexuality as open as their heterosexual counterparts. Thailand IDAHOT events, held at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in mid-May, are an amazing way to bring forth awareness to the Thai community. Within the venue, you would find a funny looking tree covered by paper leafs. They called it “The Tree of Hope and Dreams.” The by-passers were asked to write their opinion and support to the LGBTIQ community. The notes I read were extremely powerful. I turned one of the leafs over and it said simply “you are not alone” in Thai. This short sentence is a powerful message that I hope many of LGBT youths out there have heard.
The message also made me reminisce with my motivation to start GSA. I always wanted to start a gay straight alliance at our school, but I was always worried with how people would react to it. I became really empowered and dismissed my fear after I attended a conference of international school students. During the conference, a gay student from another international school expressed the importance of gay rights awareness and his speech was very inspirational. I went home with a newfound eagerness to start the club. I hope our GSA and other clubs in other schools can finally shape an environment where LGBT individuals, particularly youths, are able to express themselves openly and safely.