Cambodia: The rise and rise of the capital’s LGBT scene

When Meta House’s Nicolas Mesterharm went to his first Pride event in Phnom Penh in 2005, it consisted of a single boat docked on the riverside. Supported by Oxfam, performers sung their heart out to ‘It’s Raining Men’ and ‘Staying Alive’, international LGBT anthems that even more than a decade ago had reached Phnom Penh.

Mesterharm, born in Germany, where the LGBT community’s presence is broad and diverse, said he felt inclined to support the budding Cambodian scene.

“I found it charming. I grew up in a community that was and is still very open, lesbians, transgender, whatever, and it never really mattered to me,” he said. “So when we opened Meta House, I said to them this is what I want to do, promote LGBT rights in Cambodia through events and ever since then we’re doing that.”

Since opening in 2007, Meta House has hosted eight Pride events featuring both exhibitions and film festivals, with the launch of this year’s event being held last night.

As the LGBT community has grown from strength to strength, Mesterharm has noticed the shift in tone in Pride events from one of advocacy, to that of celebration and entertainment. While he emphasised advocating human rights for the LGBT community was important, it was a promising sign that more and more events in the Pride schedule were being held by a growing number of LGBT venues owned by LGBT community members.

It’s this diversity that Hunt wants to celebrate in this year’s Amazingly Fabulous Annual Tuk Tuk race tomorrow. Read more via Khmer Times