Dear 17-year-old self,
You might be feeling so confused, lonely and angry with who you are now because you feel so different from others.
You are afraid of having “that feeling” for girls. This is because Thai society tells you that queer love is “unfaithful” and “just a phase”.
I know how frustrating it is for you to try to force yourself to dress like a girl and avoid masculine clothing, despite feeling more comfortable with guys’ clothes. You are feeling ashamed of your masculine soul.
You feel as if trapped in the wrong body. You feel conflicted. While you are aware that you are “different”, you are trying to suppress this part of you by bullying your then best friend who was a gay guy.
I truly feel how upsetting it is that your family shames you for being who you are — especially you, the eldest child of the family who also has a learning disability.
I know how traumatizing it is to want to leave your religion because mainstream Buddhism in your country shuns queer people like us. There are times that you want to turn to drugs or cigarettes for a solution.
I feel you, Bloom…However, trust me, my 17-year-old self: your life will be so promising in the next 10 years, like the light at the end of the tunnel!
You will be more awesome than you could ever imagine, as long as you “love yourself and be true to yourself”. Loving yourself means not forgetting to cherish how awesome you are.
Being true to yourself does not just literally mean being brave and bold; it is about embracing your “true colours” and listening to your inner callings. It will take courage, prayer and meditation to embrace these things and be where I am now.
It will be a rollercoaster of a journey. But trust me, you will find the warrior within yourself at the end of the day.
Ok, let me tell you what will happen in the next 10 years: you will be doing great community and activist work serving queer, indigenous, and other marginalized communities while studying overseas.
You will receive recognitions and awards for serving queer communities.
You will be the inspiration for many queer and questioning youth not just in your home country, but overseas too.
You will help people realize their goals, potential, and dreams to become their “better” selves.
Because of your contribution to queer and marginalized communities, you will have job opportunities waiting for you. They are jobs that will help people, which is something that you are passionate about.
You will learn to reconcile your queerness and your Buddhist beliefs, thanks to your supportive Buddhist monk uncle. At the end of the day, the real teaching of Buddhism is about being free from suffrage within our souls.
It is not about blaming queer people like what some Buddhists in Thailand and elsewhere are doing. Because of your contribution to queer communities, you will meet and make many wonderful friends personally and professionally from across the world!
Some of these friends will be from New Zealand, Canada, Philippines, USA, UK, Indonesia, China and so on! They will be people who love you for who you are. You will learn that queer love is as valid and faithful as any other love.
The misunderstanding that queer love is unfaithful comes from the heteronormativity of our society as a way to shun our love.
Finally, you will learn to embrace your masculine soul and your body.
You will learn to embrace a life that lives beyond the binary gender, together with your sexuality.
All it takes to reach this point is self-love and being true to yourself. Don’t forget to hug yourself and listen to yourself. You will be alright, Bloom. I love you, my 17-year-old self.