Opinion: Bangkok through a ‘gaydar’

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that would assure that same-sex couples have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples throughout the nation. Although the United States had just proved to the world that they believe in equality for all, not all…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/kevinsgcervantes/" target="_self">Kevin Cervantes</a>

Kevin Cervantes

March 1, 2016

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in the Obergefell v. Hodges case that would assure that same-sex couples have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples throughout the nation. Although the United States had just proved to the world that they believe in equality for all, not all other countries have proved to be as accepting.

This is the year 2016 and 76 countries continue to prosecute members of the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community for simply being born different. I myself proudly identify as queer, but why can’t other men and women do so as well. The overarching reason for why I want to visit Bangkok, Thailand is because I want to illuminate the LGBTQIA Rights movements that are beginning to take place. Thailand is one of the few countries in Asia to begin to accept its LGBTQIA members. A keystone law that recently passed in Thailand was the country’s first LGBTQIA rights law. The 2015 Gender Equality Act, passed in March 2015, protects members of the LGBTQIA community and aims to punish offenders that discriminate LGBTQIA members for their gender or sexual orientation.

Thailand’s intolerance of its own LGBTQIA community members is very surprising. Thailand, which establishes itself as “The Land of Smiles” for all, has continuously oppressed LGBTQIA members. Until the Gender Equality Act, it was legal to discriminate based on sexual preference and orientation. Furthermore, “Tom” girls, which are lesbians that dress and talk like men, are murdered for no reason other than their sexual preference. Throughout 2006 to 2012, approximately 15 Tom girls were murdered, although their murders were and are still considered hate crimes by the United Nations, Thailand officials simply stated that the crimes were crimes of passion or love gone wrong. Luckily, things have drastically began to change since the Gender Equality Act passed in 2015.

Thailand is currently going through many social changes initiated by members of the LGBTQIA community. Thailand’s administration of tourism has began to establish Thailand as an oasis for all LGBTQIA members and issues that it embraces all types of lifestyles. Furthermore, Thailand is one of the seven Asian countries to sign the United Nation’s declaration of LGBTQIA Rights. Moreover, the Anjaree Foundation founded by Anjana Suvarnananda, is one of Thailand’s first LGBTQIA Rights organization. This organization is working hard to assist members of the LGBTQIA community that live in fear and face hostility from Thailand citizens. A major role that allows LGBTQIA discrimination to continue to take place is the lack of information.

Journalism plays a key role in society. I personally believe that journalism allows society to truly understand the scope of issues that LGBTQIA members face on a daily basis. I want to travel to Bangkok, Thailand because I want to document the undergoing social changes that are currently taking place. I would document my travel in Bangkok with my camera and notepad. I would use my notepad to take down the majority of notes during the day. With my notepad, I would document social and cultural attitudes toward LGBTQIA members. I would use my camera to take pictures of the LGBTQIA members, organizations and maybe even protests I see while at Thailand. I personally believe that a photo essay and article would allow readers to fully understand the discrimination that LGBTQIA members face on a daily basis. Furthermore, I would interview LGBTQIA reformists in Bangkok and then ask them about their projects and the effects of their efforts.  I would also visit Thailand’s administration of Military Defense to ask why LGBTQIA citizens are labeled as cases of “Gender Identity Disorder” and are not allowed to enroll in the military. I would also interview Thailand’s conservative politicians who have not ratified any legal policy reform due to the fact that they think that the country’s laws are sacred. I also plan to observe the social media in its entirety. I would observe magazines, television shows, advertisements, billboards and social events to try to understand the scope of LGBTQIA discrimination and LGBTQIA discrimination omission. My visit to Thailand would allow me to find a correlation between the omission of LGBTQIA information and the poor treatment of LGBTQIA community members.

My visit to Bangkok would be extensive. I would travel all around Bangkok. I would visit cultural plazas and try to identify the subliminal bias that non-LGBTQIA members display on LGBTQIA members. I would also contact openly LGBQTIA members and try to live a day in their lives. I would write about their daily struggles as they try to survive the endless discrimination that they must overcome each and every single day. If I were to be able to visit Bangkok, I would eat, sleep and live LGBTQIA issues. I would make sure to contact LGBTQIA reformists and ask them about the scope of issues that exist in Bangkok. I want to visit Bangkok to allow readers to understand that a social reform is beginning to take place in Thailand.

An opportunity to visit Bangkok and extensively cover LGBTQIA discrimination is a once in a lifetime occasion. This special occasion would allow me to become better at collecting information and data and then producing an article or photo essay. I envisage the chance to allow everyone to learn about the social movement taking place in Bangkok. The LGBTQIA movement in Thailand currently isn’t receiving any type of global support because no one knows of the issues, I would illuminate these issues. Hopefully, my article would allow me to cause further change in Thailand. In conclusion, my visit to Bangkok would be beneficial to me, as I would become a better journalist and the treatment towards LGBTQIA members in Thailand would hopefully improve.


Scholar-athlete Cody Going: off to Division 1

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