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The boy with no friends

Ne, right, and Beam, are characters in the movie 'Home'.

Publication Date : 27-04-2012


The new film "Home" by Chookiat Sakveerakul, who also directed the hit "Love of Siam", features a closeted gay teenager named Ne who goes all the way through junior and high school without a single close friend.

That's his lament to Beam, a basketball player he meets on the last day of school. Viewers are never told why Nay has been alone so long. Presumably it's because he wanted to keep his homosexuality a secret.

But why be afraid of opening up?

I've met many gay men who spent their younger years hiding in society's darkest corner, but these days we tend to think sexual diversity is more accepted and people are friendlier to LGBT people, so why hide?

In fact, no survey could count closeted gay people, so there's no way to compare their number with that of LGBT people who are out in the open. Many of my students at university are in the closet, and many of my friends dare not be honest in public.

Perhaps they think they're too weak to deal with the inevitable prejudice? We need to find out the reasons.

One reason could be spending 12 years, eight hours a day and five days a week, in a school where sex education is entirely about being heterosexual and thus "normal". Students are moulded to believe that heterosexuality alone merits tolerance. Gay students are offered no clues about why they harbour different feelings, let alone how to be homosexual in a heterosexual society.

Keeping silent becomes a survival tactic, and will remain so as long as Thai society bristles or blushes at every mention of sexual diversity.

But we can't let this system produce more desperate gay youngsters, many of whom are clever and should be happily sharing their talents with society instead of crying in dark closets.

Ne is lucky to find open-minded Beam and have a fun conversation on his last evening at school. Viewers might even think Beam is in the closet too, keen to chat after he discovers Ne's secret.

Ne manages to finish school with good memories after all. It's a shame that can't be said about many real-life Thai teenagers.


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