Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Women loving women




Women loving women

Women loving women


If people in Phnom Penh weren’t aware of what it meant to be a lesbian, last year’s hit movie Who am I almost certainly enlightened them. The movie, directed by Phoan Phuong Bopha, which explored what it means to be a lesbian in a society in which such behaviour is widely rejected, was one of the most successful and provocative of any movie in Cambodia’s recent film history.

While the movie took great dramatic licence in its portrayal of a romantic relationship between two woman, applying overt stereotypes and societal misconceptions of what it means to be a lesbian, the topic is one that many young Cambodian’s deal with every day.

Being a lesbian does not mean you act a certain way or like certain things, it just means that you are a woman who is attracted to women. We talked with some young Cambodians who have answered the question “Who am I”?, and are proud of their answer.

With short hair and a boyish style, 16-year-old Leaksmey has been “out of the closet” for two years. Leaksmey says she realised she was a lesbian after breaking up with a boyfriend whom she had no romantic feelings for.

Leaksmey started dating a girl in her class, who she says she was deeply in love with, but after breaking up with her, Leaksmey was dishonest with a number of different women. However, upon meeting her present girlfriend, Leaksmey said she has become honest again.

“I am sure she loves me so much because there is no one else who can care for and love her like I do, and she broke up with her boyfriend also because of me,” explained Leaksmey.

Leaksmey wishes that her relationship could last forever, but she realises that it can’t because the people around her won’t allow her and her girlfriend to stay together.

“Her cousin hates me so much. Once they came in a group to hit me, but I neither protected myself or fought back,” she said. “I won’t be afraid, even when they come to hit me again or kill me. I will keep saying that I love their cousin,” Leaksmey said.

If Leaksmey had to choose between her girlfriend and her family in the future, which she expects she will, she is not sure which one she will choose. “I am not sure if I will change my mind out of pity for my parents. I know I am happy to be who I am, but now it is hard to say,” she said.

Na Na is an 18-year-old high school student who says she wants to be a lesbian because she sees many women around her doing it. “I don’t know how being a lesbian will be, but I want to try because I saw lesbian couples looked lovely,” she explained.

Na Na says she knows that one of her relatives is a lesbian, but she and her girlfriend have not been accepted by their families. “They have tried hard to make their living and have been living with each other for many years.”

To Na Na, the advantage of finding a girlfriend is that going out with other women won’t get her into trouble with her family or with men. “Now there are many young girls who love girls in high schools,” explained Na Na. “Some of them are real lesbians, but most of them are not; they just follow each other.”

Whether it is true love or not, the younger generation of Cambodians is realising that sexual preference does not make them a good or bad person, despite the fact that it may go against societal norms. It is just part of who they are.

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,