As part of global Pride Month, BCF is providing space through our blog for the voices of Bhutanese LGBTQIA+ youth. Bhutan has recently made notable strides on the policy front but as the personal reflections below indicate, there remains much work to do. The posts below are by Kuenzang Palmo and rcdorji and were originally shared by the Rainbow Bhutan network. Thank you Kuenzang and rcdorji for sharing your messages. The photo above is by Kuenzang Palmo.
Cancel Heteronormativity by Kuenzang Palmo
Hello my name is Kuenzang Palmo, I’m 19 years old & I identify as bisexual—I know myself better than you know me & I’m definitely sure it isn’t ‘just a phase’. Thanks.
For pride month, at least as of now, we have no events, no parades that queer Bhutanese folks can attend—I am hoping I can contribute to changing this in the future. I hope one day all of us can stand together in public, in solidarity, & be as loud & visible as we possibly can 🏳️🌈
I wrote & posted the following message on a page I manage LGBTQ society Bhutan after experiencing an intense sadness about how unaccepting people are towards the LGBTQIA+ society in Bhutan & I’d really like for this message to reach more people so I’m sharing it here 💚:
My heart breaks at the fact that many parents’ first response to learning about their children’s sexuality or gender identity is anger, accompanied by disbelief.
Why is being under the LGBTQ+ spectrum seen as such a bad thing? Why do so many people think it’s just for ‘attention’ or it’s ‘just a phase & children are confused’? Why is anything that is not heteronormative seen as disgusting & shameful?
There is NO GOOD REASON for people to treat gender & sexual minorities with such discrimination & hatred. There is NO GOOD REASON for parents to repress how their children feel.
This discriminatory rhetoric has been dominating so many other countries & Bhutan is no exception.
Do you see how damaging it is for people identifying under the LGBTQ+ spectrum to be seen only as ‘weird’ & a ‘shame to their family’? People are so TERRIFIED of coming out & being themselves. How is it affecting the mental health of children, when they express they feel homosexual attraction & people say something is wrong with them?
Why are parents repressing their children based on their unfounded, discriminatory beliefs?
Harmless attraction & love,
wanting to identify as the gender one is comfortable with,
—they are all valid.
The diverse ways in which we experience the world should not be repressed.
The world is too complex, human beings are too complex & diverse for us to continue to look down on transgender people who are being who they want to be & trying to be comfortable with who they are, for us to be restrained to two ‘normal’ binary genders with fixed ‘appropriate roles’. For us to be restrained to just heterosexuality—all of these restrictions are results of arbitrary values IMPOSED on us, mind you, It is not the law of nature.
Nature is anything but stagnant. Nature is continually evolving, nature is diverse. We are continually evolving. our minds & ideas can’t be pinned down to one ‘normal’ way of expression— to treat someone like garbage because of how you think human beings should express their gender, how human beings should be only heterosexual, is disgusting.
I want to continue managing this page for the people who are repressed, misunderstood, bullied for how they experience their sexuality, gender & attractions—you are not alone & you have a community that sees you & accepts you & shares your experiences.
Heterosexuality & rigid gender norms are NOT indications of superiority, they are NOT inherently valuable.
Human beings are diverse & beautiful. the LGBTQIA+ community will grow & flourish & fight to be treated with respect, empathy & basic human decency.
We will continue to exist.
Gay is good. Nonbinary genders are valid. Love is love. Transmen are men. Transwomen are women. 🏳️🌈
Francis Forever by rcdorji, after Francis forever by Mitski
In moments when I feel like a green asterisk where I am filled with silence, I remember how Roland Bathes in A Lover’s Discourse mentions, “I’ve got nothing to say to you, but it’s to you I want to say nothing to.”
One stray afternoon, we held hands and I understood how it feels to have the universe on the palms of my hands. I think about my life before you, a lifetime of waiting to name a love I didn’t know existed. Looking back, I am not sure I could survive life. I wonder if this is how love moves us, its echo hardening into the shape of a person. I wonder if this is also why people can never return to a life where the flesh isn’t cracked from fires marking the affection one experienced.
Poe once said, “All I loved, I loved alone.” The first time we held hands and I felt like the whole universe inside me was going to collapse, the first time I saw the ocean and I thought of you and I understood what love would feel like, the first time I stayed up til 5 AM and wrote a love poem instead of saying, I miss you. What Poe doesn’t understand is that everything I have ever loved, I have loved alone but I wanted them to stay. I may one day choose not to love you through words, but I don’t think I can stop having static silences where I had nothing to say, but it was you I wanted to say nothing to. I am convinced that your absence will be the only thing that will move me the way your love did.
Thank you Kuenzang Palmo and rcdorji for sharing your messages with Bhutan Canada Foundation. Thank you Rainbow Bhutan network for facilitating the collection of these stories this Pride Month and for connecting BCF with Kuenzang and rcdorji. Thank you to Rainbow Bhutan network, Kuenzang, rcdorji and the many more advocates in Bhutan for the work you do to create more visibility, understanding, and allyship for the LGBTQIA+ community.