In Vietnam, we can find many LGBT events happening in the big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City: exhibitions, shows, bars... The scene is definitely vibrant. In the countryside, however, the situation that gay people face is not that easy. The last episode of Queer Asia - Vietnam, an original docu-series produced by GagaOOLala, goes to Northern Vietnam and captures the moving story between Mrs. Thi, a 73-year-old mother, and her gay son.
Mrs. Thi and her son Tư / (Source: GagaOOLala)
The wrinkles on Mrs. Thi's face and her skinny body showcase all she has had to endure for 73 years. Born into a poor family, she had to drop out of school when she was a second grader and go to work on the farm mowing the lawn. Tư was the fourth son and his father passed away the fourth day after he was born, hence the name Tư (Fourth in Vietnamese).
Although Tư did have female friends in junior high school, among all of his friends, he felt specially close with his friend Loc. Tư says: "I didn't know what that feeling was at that time. As I grew older, I looked back at my past and I knew that I had fallen in love with Loc." When Loc and his family moved away, Tư even asked his mom many times if she knew where he was.
The Young Tư (Left) / (Source: GagaOOLala)
As Tư grew older, his sexuality became so "obvious" that his elder brother told his mother to urge Tư to get married, otherwise Tư would come out and refuse to get married. Mrs. Thi sought help in religion. The masters told her that "no matter you're male or female, young or old, we should find a way to understand and support them, and be with them in this short life."
Mrs. Thi Listening to the Teachings of the Master / (Source: GagaOOLala)
"I'm sorry. I love you so."
Tư wrote a letter to Mrs. Thi that he never sent, the letter talks about the love for his mother and the guilt he felt for being homosexual.
"My beloved mom, the first thing I want to say is that I’m sorry. I love you so. For my entire life I only wish you could be happy and in peace. I only wish you don’t have to worry about me anymore. I know I have disappointed you and our family a lot. But mom, we humans don’t get to choose our own sex. But we have the right to live our own gender. Mom, what could I do? If I choose to be true to myself, you and our family would suffer because of me. But if I get married (with a woman), I would disappoint the other person and myself and cause more karma. Mom, how about I become a monk? I know leading a religious life is difficult, but I accept adversity, accept self-sacrifice, so that you and our family won’t have to suffer because of me anymore. I will convert to Buddhism. Once again, I apologize to you, mom. I love you so."
Tư Reading the Letter / (Source: GagaOOLala)
"They are my dearest in my life."
Mrs. Thi loves Tư, and vice versa. His gay identity is not an obstacle for the love between them. Mrs. Thi once recited a poem in the middle of the night, and Tư heard it, accidentally:
I wrote the words in my heart to my children
Whom I love dearly my entire life.
Youth fades away
And hair turning gray,
Years have passed
And become solitude.
My dear children,
Who loves you as much as Mom
From the day you started to grow?
Today you are grown-ups,
And I went through trials and tribulations.
By then, Tư rose up to embrace Mrs. Thi and burst into tears.
Will the love between mother and son conquer homophobia?