Jason is a passionate young man from Australia who came to Siem Reap 5 years ago for a spot of volunteering. Within the first few days of being here, Jason knew Cambodia was where he wanted to be on a more permanent basis. He returned to Australia for one month, sold all of his things and moved to Siem Reap on New Year's day 2014. In Australia, Jason studied Psychology and Sociology and worked in Child Protection. In his free time, he volunteered at an LGBTIQ+ drop-in centre. After moving to Cambodia and getting a feel for the culture and climate for LGBTIQ+ individuals, Jason saw a real need for the same kind of thing here. Jason started using his personal Khmer lessons to create posters and descriptions in Khmer of each letter in our chosen 'LGBTIQ+' acronym. He wasn't sure how it was all going to come together, but had faith that it would. An amazingly successful and supportive drag competition fundraiser later, and a beautiful space offered rent-free for the first 12 months and A Place To Be Yourself (APTBY) opened. Jason now runs his own counselling business and teaches English as well as running APTBY.
Pov is a young Khmer trans man who has worked with APTBY pretty much from inception. When Pov came in for his interview and read our 'identity wall' (each letter of the LGBTIQ+ acronym explained in Khmer), he self-identified as a lesbian. When it was pointed out that a lesbian is a “girl that loves girls” and his gender was actually male – and that perhaps ‘transgender’ was a better word to describe Pov, he was absolutely blown away. It was like suddenly his whole life made sense – there was a word for the way he felt – for who he was. There were others like him. And it was ok! Pov walked away a different man and has been integral in APTBY’s success thus far. We are very lucky to have him!
Kunthea has only recently joined us and is a strong supporter and ally of the LGBTIQ+ community. Kunthea met Jason through a local NGO she is a part of being a former ‘street kid’ that grew up begging on and around the infamous Pub Street. She has a strong passion for women’s health and counselling and recently started translating for Jason in counselling sessions and Gender & Sexuality workshops. Now she is a valued member of our small team and family and helps to co-facilitate our Friday and Saturday sessions along with Pov. Both Kunthea and Pov have recently applied for a Professional Health Counselling course in Phnom Penh that they hope to incorporate into their work at APTBY.