Weaponize our voices

If anyone were to ask me what’s the proudest moment or thing of this school year, I’ll probably say that I talked a lot.

You can call me talkative or whatever. Yet, most of the time, I’m still socially shy and awkward, but I mean that’s every teens’ issue, right? So yes, I’m talkative. I love debates and I get into arguments often.

Some people’s proudest moment might probably be winning a competition, accomplished a mountain-stacked work, got a 5 on AP exams or above 1400 on the SAT. But, my version of proud is that I talked a lot on topics that matter.

On May 5th, I along with seven other members hosted a Rainbow Summit that is dedicated to talk in our own own language, Khmer, about various aspects of the LGBTQ+ community and advocate for their rights.

We have spent approximately about 3 months, meeting each other 2-3 hours every weekend to organize this summit. Since we have this one ambition together, we never feel torn or exhausted from doing all the work. Because we’re passionate. We knew since the beginning that we’re not experts and we’re not going to be able to give everyone all the answers they want, but we have our primary goal: to be the conversation starters who impose a new perspective to our conservative country.

In Cambodia, members of the LGBTQ+ community suffer paramount discrimination due to the existence of a non-accepting society. In our summit, we’ve organized into four sessions: Language, Culture, Laws, and Health and Violence. 

Through constructive conversations and relevant activities, we were able to explain difficult and sensitive concepts to the audience who are young teenagers from 4 high schools. In Health and Violence session, led by me and another friend, we talked about the mental health issues that have happened in the LGBTQ+ community. In one of our activities, we asked the participants to closed their eyes and imagine that they are heterosexuals and live in a world in which heterosexuality is discriminated against. And in fact, people feel oppressed and cried. We further explained to them the pressure that we, individually, have put to the community and how we instigate violence.

I can speak powerfully and strongly of my session and I also can speak of other sessions, but if you visit my friends’ blogs who were also leaders of this summit, you would find a more elaborated and thorough highlight of their sessions. Names of them are included here: thiny, makara, sreynith, theara, kimseng, venghour, and samnangn. You can replace “rika” above with any one of these names. 

Why did we do it? Because it matters. We never think, for once, that this isn’t our business even though some of us are heterosexual. It’s everyone business. That mindset is everything, so unless we have a vaccine in which we can inject this perspective to everyone, this summit is necessary.

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