From his early teens, Deyon Phuntsho discovered that he was different from what society normally expected of him.
As an eighth standard student, he knew he was a gay with obvious natural feminine traits, which he tried to hide. “That was when the harassment and bullying was at its peak and things just got more complicated from there on,” he recalled. “I became scared and ashamed of myself as I didn’t want my friends and family to find out that I was a gay.”
“I spent numerous hours surfing the Internet, reading about homosexuality and sexual orientation and behaviors that contradicted with traditional gender norms of society,” said Deyon.
It was only in 2015 that Deyon first met with the LGBT+ Community of Bhutan (now Rainbow Bhutan: ‘Celebrating Diversity’) where he attended his first community conference. “For the first time ever, I felt like I belonged and ever since I’ve been trying to work towards a better future for myself and for people who feel that they don’t fit in.”
Deyon and his partner, Tenzin Gyeltshen, met online through social media platforms where they first interacted through anonymous accounts and later decided to meet in person. “I think this is what love is all about. We fell in love with one another’s soul and this I feel is what people should really understand. Love is not about sex, gender or creed. It’s all about the soul inside you,” said Deyon.
Deyon said that confronting his parents was the hardest thing. “Although I was petrified, I needed to come out, but I was very surprised when I got a positive response from them and my mother said, ‘you are still my son,’” he said. “They also asked me about my partner, Tenzin and accepted our relationship too. On Tenzin’s part, his family also accepted us and invites me during family gatherings.”
Deyon said the level of acceptance has changed over the past few years but there were still cases to be addressed.
With work keeping them busy at the moment, Deyon said the couple does have a dream of raising a child through adoption in the near future. “Adopting a baby is a huge responsibility but we do want to raise a family. People have this idea that gay, lesbian or transgender can’t have a family simply because we can’t give birth but they don’t realize that blood doesn’t make a family, its love,” he said. “Everyone has a dream and mine is to have a regular family. To have someone call you his or her father would be the best gift of my life.”
Deyon said that it is important that acceptance should first start from within by being comfortable with who you are. “It is not important to come out and tell the world that you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender; what is important is to accept yourself first. Everyone is talented and special, and you are no exception. Don’t worry about coming out. Just be who you are, people who truly care for you will always love you because you have that same unwavering beautiful soul,” he said.
Deyon Phuntsho currently works as an outreach worker with Lhak-sam, a non-profit organization working with people living with HIV in Bhutan. Deyon and his partner, Tenzin are currently in a live-in-together relationship.