Love in the time of genocide.

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Kung-fu Hillbilly
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Love in the time of genocide.

Post by Kung-fu Hillbilly » Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:39 am

Sitha, far right, and Man, centre, reunite after forty years with the Khmer Rouge leader, far left, who saved their lives. Also pictured are Sanh, second to the right, and Sophea Phoeng, activists with CamAsean. Photo: Tabitha Payne

By Tabitha Payne
2nd August 2019

Others, he could save. For three and a half years, he says, Si Mun would sneak into the rooms of those singled out to be killed the night before their execution, warning them of the danger.

Living as they were under an anti-Western, fundamentalist regime, Si Mun and his friends’ stories fly in the face of the widespread myth in Cambodia that being LGBT is a Western invention. Because LGBT locals only recently gained attention in the Kingdom’s media, many assume being LGBT here is a new phenomenon. And even outside of Cambodia, most people would find it unimaginable for anyone to live as an LGBT person under the Khmer Rouge.

All but one wore their hair cropped and boyish. Because of the Khmer Rouge’s required black uniform and short bob haircut, their masculinity stood out less than it had before the regime took power. One man even recalls feeling more comfortable in his uniform, finally able to choose to wear pants instead of the traditional skirt.

Driving around Pursat, we arrive at the small pond where the Khmer Rouge commissioned Sitha and his sister Samnang to sing patriotic songs, recorded through a makeshift contraption powered by a bicycle. With another elderly transgender man activist, Pheng Sanh, standing in place of his sister, he sings for us as much as he can remember. He claims that after the Khmer Rouge fell, a former prisoner of the regime came to thank him for his songs, which were played in the prison.

It was a precarious life lived in secret. One time, Man says, a 17-year old woman who was a local Khmer Rouge leader fell in love with him. Dejected by his refusal, she reported him for suspicious behaviour to her superiors. They sent someone to spy on him for three days. Man, who was sick with fever, pretended he was not home by lying perfectly still the entire time, unable to even lift a hand to slap the mosquitoes who bit at his skin.

Full ... mer-rouge/
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