Coming Out: Dealing with Homophobia as a Gay Tibetan in the Army

The following submission was made by a gay Tibetan who is currently in the army. Specific details were taken out to protect their identity, as there is still rampant ignorance and hostility around LGBTQ issues in the army. I applaud their determination in holding onto their truth, even in the face of frequent animosity. Thank you for sharing your story.

I joined the army after completing high school due to the financial crisis. I left my priorities behind cause I had to look after my parents. That was in 2008. During those years, people were not so aware of LGBTQ issues. I realized I was gay at an early age, and it felt so scary joining the army at that time cause I knew about the hatred and discrimination I would face in this job. Continue reading

[Q&A] Thoughts from the Closet: On Being Bisexual, Coming Out to Tibetan Family Members and Reasons for Hope

A few days ago, I received the following heartfelt email. Although unexpected, it was truly encouraging hearing from a fellow LGBTQ Tibetan back in India. I’d like to thank Tae Yen (a pseudonym), who wishes to remain anonymous, for the message and the illuminating conversation.

From India, 20 years old, apprentice at a tattoo studio and learning tattooing. I knew that I had things for the same gender since pre school, I was keen on being paired with girls more than guys for school projects. I asked my mother if it’s ok to find girls beautiful? She had an idea as to what I was indicating and she told me that it’s ok. She acknowledged me with terms, lesbian and gay. I searched, and I grew up. I had celebrity crushes, basically girls. I like a girl for now but I can not let my family know. I lost my mother when I was in my teens, if she was here it would’ve been easier.

Well, I’m not ashamed of my sexuality. While being queer is hard for many in India, it is especially so in a Tibetan family where understanding “love regardless of gender” is tough. But I’m proud of my tomboy self. I respect my androgynous side and with great acceptance, I accept myself as bisexual. My friends are aware of my sexuality and they’re supportive. Hope I’ll be out of the closet soon, properly.

Continue reading

The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Expresses Support for LGBTQ Relationships

In 2015, when The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje visited Princeton University, he was asked to share his own views on gay, lesbian, and transgender relationships. Gyalwang Karmapa emphasized the fact that all relationships are valid if based upon trust and real affection and also mentioned that there isn’t a strong reference or guidance for lay people regarding homosexuality in Tibetan Buddhism. Continue reading

Reaching Out to LGBTQ Tibetans

equality newer flag

The number of people who’re out as LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual) in our community can easily be counted on one hand. That points to an obvious lack of representation and awareness that has been driven by many factors. Human history throughout has been a heteronormative and a homophobic one and our society was (and still is) no different from others in not being conducive to LGBTQ+ voices.

Although there are a lot of Tibetans who are very understanding and willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, there’s still a lot of prejudice and ignorance around LGBTQ+ issues that give rise to discrimination and the marginalization of LGBTQ Tibetans.

Continue reading