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Pich’s story: “Embracing Who You Are”


by Love is Diversity


Trigger warning: sexual abuse/violence


Pich is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, telling her story how she finds her way to overcome adversity, and pushing through challenges to embrace her identity. Below is a transcript of her storytelling session during the Pride Together event of Love is Diversity, and Empowerment grantee partner of Voice in Cambodia.



My name is Pich.

I have always loved writing since I was young, and this is a story I wrote based on my own true story. As a kid, I used to remember that whenever I had a story in my mind, I would sit alone and write down all my thoughts and feelings in my book, because at home I had no one to share my thoughts with.

At school, I also have a close friend whom I trust and feel safe talking with about myself. His name is Rith. But it was very difficult for us to meet because my parents always forbade me from being friends with Rith, who had a soft and gentle attitude like a woman. They scolded and cursed me every time they saw me with Rith. They would say, “If you hang out with him for a long time you will catch that too and be not a man nor a woman.” They hate that kind of person.

Rith does not have many people who like him and does not have many friends. Most people at school and in the district hated Rith and even looked down on Rith’s parents. Rith is under a lot of pressure from discrimination, which affected his mental health, emotions, and even affected Rith’s education. Rith was bullied, physically abused and sexually harassed. All this left Rith living with fear, insecurity and severe stress together with his family.

Fortunately, Rith has a warm, understanding and open family that accepts him for who he is. However, despite such great warmth and love from family, prejudice and discrimination from the outside world continue to disrupt their well-being. To protect Rith and the well-being of the whole family, Rith’s parents decided to move to another province. There, Rith and his family started a happy new life because there was more acceptance and less discrimination.

I was devastated by Rith’s departure, as it was like losing an important friend whom I used to be close with. But I am also happy for my friend that his life has improved. Even though we are far apart, Rith and I continued to keep in touch, study hard, and get good academic results together.

Rith went on to study fashion design, which is something he loves. I received a scholarship in literature at a university in Phnom Penh.

In my first year of university, I met a girl that I was deeply in love with, and we eventually got into a relationship. Yes, you all hear it right, I loved a woman, and no, I didn’t catch it from Rith. I have known this and experienced this kind of love for a long time already, but I didn’t dare to show it to anyone because I knew that my parents would not accept me, and only Rith knows this.

My partner and I love each other so much. But while my heart is filled with happiness and warmth, my heart and my mind are full of stress, worry and fear of my parents knowing about this; how angry and hateful they would be towards me.

That time had arrived, and my parents found out that I was in love with a woman. They were so angry that they forced me to drop out of my university and return home with them. They insulted me, telling me not to do this ever again.

They said that I have brought shame upon the whole family lineage. They told my relatives that I was under dark magic and took me to a shaman to get a water blessing.

To perform that ritual, the shaman took my parents out, leaving me alone with him in his altar room. Do you know what happened to me that day? That shaman hit my body and touched my private areas. I screamed and called out to my parents for help, but the shaman insisted that he was just following his rules and performing his routine. Not wanting any trouble, my parents stopped arguing and let it be.

A month later, my parents matched me with another villager’s son. I refused, but they didn’t listen. They said they wanted me to have a good and happy future. They want me to get married and have a family like others in the village. I told them I would not live happily with someone that I didn’t love. They replied to me, “Being married and living together for a long time will help you love each other.” To please my parents, I cried and betrayed my own heart and lived a miserable life.

You know, the good future that my parents wanted me to have been only in their thoughts because I won’t be happy living with someone I don’t love. I still miss my girlfriend every second. What’s worse is the man I married was not a good person, he liked to go out drinking almost every day, and sometimes he used violence on me.

Oh, my life, why do I have to live a life that betrays my own heart and be with a man like this? Is this the good future and the happiness my parents wished for me?

I keep asking myself why I was born like this. Is this my karma that I was born different? Is it my fault that I am gay? Is it because I am gay that my life failed miserably?

What about my good friend, Rith, does he suffer like me?

One day Rith came to visit me. Rith is so beautiful, she has changed her gender, she’s a gorgeous woman, and she has brought her handsome partner, too.

They invited me to their wedding. I saw Rith and her family are very happy together. I also rejoiced with them.

Why is Rith’s life better, her family is lovely, and she is happy and successful in her work?

It’s not me, right? And it is not because of homosexuality, right? It was discrimination, hatred, and “rejection” that pushed my life to this point.

I hope that we all stop discriminating and turn it into love and acceptance to spread happiness and smiles together.


The crowd during the Pride Together event
The crowd during the Pride Together event



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