This is Sa Nith’s story, “I had a boyfriend for five years and we loved each other. I gave him everything he wanted, such as clothes, a motorcycle, a mobile phone, etc. I supported his schooling and his family. Our families knew about the relationship and they did not disapprove of it. I was working in Kbal Koh, near where I lived, he stayed on his own in Phnom Penh studying. All along I trusted him and never doubted his love for me, until one day his brother gave me an invitation for my boyfriend’s wedding. By this time, he had already graduated and obtained a degree. His parents were not aware of his betrayal and, when they learned of their son’s wedding plans, they immediately came to my house and told me how sorry they were about the situation. By that point, I was already on the brink of breaking down; I wanted to kill myself because of the pain that I felt. I never thought it could happen to me because it was something I’d only seen in movies.
Looking back, I am happy that I had my family and friends to support me. They helped me overcome the sadness during that period of my life. They stayed with me and never failed to remind me that there is more to life than losing my boyfriend. Slowly, I picked up the pieces and moved on with my life. I have to admit that there were still times when I thought of him but working as a Community Facilitator at Kanhnha Club occupied my mind and kept me busy. My work inspires me and I too became an inspiration for the young members of the club. I think they look up at me because, aside from my sad love story, I also experienced being thrown out of the house by my family when I was younger because of being an MSM. My family thought of me as a curse and viewed me as useless because they believed I would not be able to help support the family. They wanted me to stop studying and help earn money for the family instead. However, this just made me stronger and more determined to finish my studies.
I left home and went to live with my friends and I worked in a restaurant to support myself. On the day I was to take my final Secondary school examination I was surprised to see my mother waiting for me at the school. She was crying and said that they wanted me to come back home. From then until now, I have been living with my family and I helping them in anyway I can.
Those were the challenges that I experienced in my life, and because of these, I am able to empathise with the younger generation of MSM, transgender and gays who also face issues connected to love, family acceptance, discrimination, drugs, sex, etc. And, as a result, I’m in a position to advise them on those things,” says Sa Nith proudly.
Nith, now aged 27, works at Kanhnha Club, the only MStyle Club in the Meanchey district. As a Community Facilitator, he trains the Peer Facilitators on how to effectively educate the target group on safe sex, HIV, STIs, and other sexual health issues. He initiates activities for the target audience in order to build stronger relationships with them. Moreover, Nith says that by doing this he gets to know the needs of the target audience and can encourage them to join the MStyle Clubs.
Nith has this message for young MSMs, transgender people and gays, “study hard, be a good son or daughter and be a good member of the community so that people look up to you. Value your life; avoid drugs and risky sexual behaviours because those will ruin your chances of a bright future. It is important to strive hard in order to reach your dreams. Nothing is free in this world, you have to earn what you want,” he concluded.