In celebration of this Pride month, EQ is engaging in conversations with members of the diverse LGBTQ+ community. We delve into the voices that yearn to resonate within the broader Thai society. Our first guest, Daofah, an English tutor and artist, stands as a beacon of “inclusion,” advocating the embrace of diversity within the community.
During Pride Month, the concept of “coming out” often takes the spotlight, as individuals in the LGBTQ+ spectrum step out of the closet to proudly embrace their identities. Within the community, there’s a push to encourage self-expression and authenticity. However, it’s important to remember that ‘coming out’ isn’t everyone’s journey, and inclusion means supporting each individual's unique path. Daofah shares with us his message of inclusion, aiming to resonate with the LGBTQ+ community during this meaningful month.
“I want to champion ‘inclusion,’ which means unity. When people think of LGBTQ+, they might envision the flamboyant, larger-than-life “Hey! Look at me!” moment. But the beauty of LGBTQ+ is that it defies stereotypes.”
“They’re diverse and don’t need to conform to stereotypical lifestyles or gender preferences.”
Is coming out always about making a loud statement? Coming out isn’t just saying ‘I’m gay and I’m proud!’ There are many groups of people who aren’t comfortable doing that.”
What does ‘coming out’ mean to you? “It means stepping out of the shadows. It’s about not needing to deceive ourselves or conform to societal expectations. It’s the courage to be myself, to embrace my gender, whether loudly or quietly. It doesn’t require hiding or succumbing to societal pressure that keeps me from being authentic. Talking about it this way can foster greater acceptance, expand the LGBTQ+ community, and contribute to a more diverse nation.”
Have you had any experiences that made you feel most proud of your gender identity? “Before I talk about what I'm proud of, let me say that I’ve also had challenging periods in my life, much like everyone else. There were times when I felt depressed, lost my sense of self, and believed I needed to seek love and acceptance from others, from a society that may not have recognized our existence. I struggled with this issue for a while, always seeking external validation to prove my worth. Until one day, I met someone—a pole dancer. They dressed me up in pole dance attire, did my hair and makeup, and when I looked in the mirror, I felt beautiful.”
“The word ‘beautiful’ is not all about ‘I’m beautiful.’ It’s a feeling that we are valuable and inherently beautiful. I felt this when I saw the pictures taken. From that point on, I stopped seeking validation from others, allowing me to see my worth from within. I embraced a gender-fluid look too, and that’s when I truly felt proud of my unique identity.”
What do you think could help Thailand become more open to diversity?
“There are many things that could make it more open. Like today’s interview, the team presenting these stories helps broaden perspectives. It shows Thai society that people like this exist—gender-fluid individuals, diverse thoughts, different genders. It’s about making society see our diversity. All of this helps society become more open to diversity within the community.”
“But a major step towards greater openness is legalizing equal marriage rights. While there’s just one rule in this specific law, marriage-related laws have numerous details. So, it’s not only about same-sex marriage. Legal experts suggest that laws reflect how society thinks. Laws shape people’s thoughts. For example, if a law bans alcohol and cigarettes, society might judge those who use them as not good individuals. Similarly, Thai law doesn’t recognize sex work so it affects how this occupation is perceived in society.”
“Laws influence people’s attitudes. If equal marriage laws are enacted, it would immediately foster the development and broadening of society’s perspective towards LGBTQ+. This is a crucial step to achieve the utmost openness.”
As our conversation with Daofah came to a close, we couldn’t help but reflect on the profound truth in his words. The constraints of societal norms, the personal significance of coming out, and the essential evolution of legal structures—each element held a vital place in shaping perspectives. With a shared sense of optimism, we look forward to the day when Daofah’s aspirations, along with those of the entire LGBTQ+ community, are no longer held back but embraced with the recognition they rightly deserve.