Bhutan's underground gay community seeks acceptance

Published: September 16, 2013

Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Bhutan, but BBS presenter Namgay Zam says it’s no longer a black and white issue, and perhaps Bhutan should look with an open mind at the rainbow.

The affirmation of the existence of a Bhutanese gay population only happened with the creation of the Facebook page and Twitter handle "LGBT Bhutan" (Lesbian/ Gay/ Bisexual/Transgender) about six months ago.
"I liked boys since I was little, I did not find that strange" says one of the LGBT administrators who wanted to be called J. "There was no conflict within me".
Another administrator, K, has a different story – he was homophobic for 20 years of his life, denying his innate sexual orientation. 
"It’s a frightening feeling (coming out), but once I accepted who I am; that I cannot hide from my sexuality, I came out to one of my best friends," he said. 
"I did not choose to come out by deciding who would or would not understand me. 
"I came out to people who are close to me and whom I know I will associate with for the rest of my life – anyone else would have made it my prime identity."
Both administrators admit to having been inspired by Dechen – one of the only two transgenders who have chosen to live in the public eye as women.
Dechen made news when she wanted to wear a Kira (a Bhutanese dress) to school when she was 16 – never before had such a case presented itself in Bhutanese society. 
"I think of myself as a normal girl, I never stop myself from going out and having fun," she said. 
She says that other transgenders like her do not want to disclose their identities, as the "self-stigma" is too great, but says discrimination is not very widespread in Bhutanese society.
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