Staying Negative – Rithy’s Story

Born and bred in Melbourne, I was born to Asian parents, which has been a huge part of my life. My parents are from Cambodia, and they moved over here to escape the civil war in 1975, and have been here for over 30 years. They’re quite open parents, considering their background. They do struggle a little bit with my sexuality, but I did have an okay coming out process. (Gay Asian Proud)

Both my parents lost a lot of family in the war. Dad lost both his parents, and Mum also lost both her parents and all but two of her siblings during the Khmer Rouge regime. I remember drawing my family tree when I was grade 6, and my history was littered with more than 30 deceased family members. That being said, my childhood was actually a lot of fun because I had a lot of cousins in the house. Mum’s two surviving sisters moved over to Australia and they all stayed with us in our three-bedroom house. The house was full with ten of us living there and we had a big Tarago to transport us around town. At the time, it all seemed very normal, but in hindsight I realise now that it’s not your typical growing up experience in Australia. That being said, we’re a very close family and I’m still quite close with my aunties and cousins for that reason.

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