Monday, 11 January 2016

Not belonging in Bangkok

The woman at border control is butch and casually displaying her leg hair. She smiles at me as I make my way past the sign that says Welcome to Bangkok. I can't stop noticing queer couples on the street, and I feel a weird sense of immediate belonging, even though I've never visited before.

Of course, I don't belong in Bangkok. It's home to other people and I'm just a visitor. I keep thinking about this as I wander the streets and admire each place that we visit. In amongst the beautiful temples and hectic city rush, I notice skin whitening adverts. I notice how everything is written in English as well as Thai. I notice that there are hundreds of tourists here, oogling at the culture and sometimes laughing at it. I might not laugh, but I am still one of these tourists.

In Bangkok I notice my whiteness. I notice how pale my skin is, how pale my family are, how Eurocentric my history lessons at school where. How Eurocentric all my lessons at school were, and all of the TV shows I watched as a kid, and all the books I've sat and read.

I might be LGBTQ+, but that doesn't make every queer space somewhere for me. I love Bangkok, and I am having a fab time here. But it isn't somewhere that I belong. I hold privileges in many ways and I try to be mindful of this whilst I'm here. I feel ashamed for speaking to people in English so I'm trying to learn as much Thai as I can. I don't really know what this post is about because it's not like this should be something positive to report back on. I'm not doing anything good, just trying to recognise how privileged I am, how I can be a good ally and how I can listen to and respect Thai people more. I'm only a visitor and even the ability to visit is a privilege.

No comments:

Post a Comment