LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2000
Gay in Thailand?
- by Tammie J. Ostrom, PCV
“She always tells me I am the daughter she never had.I am comfortable with her. Details of my love life havenever come up in full text. She has been the only Thaifriend who has never pried. But as we sat in that templeand she talked about Madeline, something inside of mefelt ashamed for not having told her before.”
I’ve been asked what it’s like to begay in Thailand. Just this morning,one of my co-workers wished me toinform him, when the time came, of myplans to marry when I return to theStates so that he can attend mywedding. I’m wondering if he’d cometo a lesbian wedding. Until recently, Iwasn’t terribly bothered by the (yes,constant) queries regarding my lovestatus. Do you have a lover? Do youwant a family? You can be his mis-tress. Aren’t you lonely, etc.? It is agiven in Thailand that you will beasked about your love life and giventhe appropriate advice on how toacquire a mate if you don’t yet haveone. Unfortunately, for me, the Thaiwould want that mate to be male. I’vetried every reply to the persistentstatements/inquiries except the honestone. “I don’t have the time.” “Ihaven’t thought about it yet.” “ Ihaven’t found the right one.” Myexcuses are running thin these days.My lover Madeline has been toThailand three times in the year or sosince my service began. On her mostrecent visit Madeline, and P.A. myclosest Thai friend, and I went to visitsome temples nearby. The three of uswere sitting in one of the temples,although Madeline was out of earshotof a conversation I was having withP.A. She commented that Madelinewas so “riap roi” (a Thai term that’sused to describe someone who ispolite/appropriate). “Thai men wouldlove her - she’s so calm and polite.” Iturned to P.A. and said, “there’ssomething important I need to talk about with you, but I would like to talk with you alone at another time.” P.A.asked me if I was okay and I said Iwas, but that it was something that Ifelt strongly about sharing with herwhen the time was right. The time isright, but more than that, it is neces-sary. I haven’t told any of my Thaifriends and colleagues aboutMadeline. My office just refers to heras my friend, and I’m certain theydon’t have a clue about our relation-ship.P.A. has from the beginning of ourfriendship been the most real andnatural individual to me. Often in thiscountry I feel like the privilegedforeigner (which I am) and receivemore than enough special treatmentfrom the Thai. With P.A. it goesbeyond all that. She has shared somuch of herself and her family withme. She always tells me I am thedaughter she never had. I am comfort-able with her. Details of my love lifehave never come up in full text. Shehas been the only Thai friend who hasnever pried. But as we sat in thattemple and she talked about Madeline,something inside of me felt ashamedfor not having told her before. “Thaimen would love her,” kept ringing inmy head. What I wanted to screamand hear echoed throughout thetemple was: “Yes, Thai men wouldlove her, but she’s with me and noThai man will have her as long as I’maround!!” - not exactly the serenethoughts one should be having whilesitting in a temple.What were those precepts again?Knowing that I am only temporarily inthis country and that when I finish myservice I will be returning to mycommunity; this has kept me fromsharing too much of my personal life. Iam American; I am a woman; I am alesbian, not necessarily in that order.This is not who/what I am all about. I
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EditorMike LearnedLayoutKevin H. Souza
The LGB RPCV Newsletter ispublished quarterly by the Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual RPCV Organization,an affiliate of the National PeaceCorps Association. We exist topromote Peace Corps ideals andacceptance of gays and lesbiansthroughout the world. Submissionof articles or graphics to be pub-lished in the newsletter is encour-aged. The right to use or editmaterials remains with the editor.Copyright remains with the author.Send submissions or inquires to theabove postal or e-mail address.
sift through the pile of myself andshare what feels natural with those Icare about.•
Tammie Ostram can be reached (infrequently) at