Choul Chnam Thmey 2023!
Choul Chnam Thmey means Happy Khmer New Year in Khmer language. This past Sunday, I went on a short hike with my Canadian and European friends to get my zen back and clear up any bad mojo. On Monday, I prepped Cambodian food to celebrate Khmer New Year coming up on April 12th, 13th, and 14th. There is no Cambodian temple that I know if that could go to give offerings to, in Khmer, which is called bon (pronounced quite the same in French as the 'bon' in 'bonjour') and the Khmer word for bon means good fortune or to accumulate good karma used interchangeable with Bon Choul Chnam Thmey. I will just had to do one at home which is an opportunity to share my Cambodian culture and tradition with my boyfriend and our friends. Yesterday, after prepping for Cambodian dishes, we went to a karaoke bar in Little Koreatown and just sang our hearts out. I've always wondered how Cambodia celebrates Khmer New Year so my Thai girl-friend showed me this video. It looked so much fun!
My father normally half joked (rather flirted) with my mother that Khmer New Year was when all the handsome boys and girls would dress up, show off all their gold jewelry which symbolizes how much wealth one had, and try to attract or find their mate (seek their future husband or wife), they would dance together, there would be a lot of games like chap kon kleng (catch sparrows).
These were the original Khmer New Year celebratory traditions and in today's age, you hardly see these traditions anymore. Very few Khmers still celebrate the tradition way.
I'm so out of touch with the Cambodian side of my culture. I know I'm loosing the language because I could only count Khmer numbers up to five then forget the rest. I had to Google what 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were. I just forgot! It doesn't mean I don't speak Khmer fluently, I can speak and understand it but I don't know a lot of other Khmer people other than my own family members. I realize how much I want to visit my father's homeland. Everything seems so much more fun and happier there. America has become so depressing.
All you hear about in the news are mass shooting, hate crimes, and a list of entitled racial groups that spend more time in life oppressing other racial groups to gain or maintain social or political power. If it's not about power than it's just all about money and social status in America. America has lost its value, principles, traditions, and culture. It's not fun! Thanks to the pandemic and the target on transgender people, I deal with racism and transphobia from time to time to a point where I don't even want to go out and have fun in America soil alone. I think I'm truly deeply unhappy living in America that I'm looking into moving to one of my other homeland countries either Cambodia, Japan, or France. So far, Cambodia is my number one choice. It's affordable! The people of Cambodia is all about peace and prosperity. For a country that endured some seriously bull shit like the Khmer Rouge between 1975-1979, there is a sense of more appreciation in life than anywhere else in the world.
I feel like I can heal alongside my father's homeland, Cambodia, and also get back into my roots. It's definitely a future that I see as I get older and retire. I'm absolutely not breathing my last breath and dying of old age in America. I want to lay where my ancestors rest.
The other thing that I love about Cambodia, is the street food. I spent an entire half the day watching these videos which inspired me to cook Khmer food. I realized how long it has been that I've had any Khmer food. My favorite dishes are Bang Chav and Dut Yao-Hon. I love watching videos like this, it's so therapeutic to me and inspirational. I'm aspiring to open up my own Khmer food truck by early next year 2024.
In the Cambodian Street Food video, at 41:50, I knew the guy was Yuan (Vietnamese) speaking Khmer because of his native accent. I love all his tattoos and piercings! That was pretty dope!
I felt like if I weren't in a queer relationship with my current partner, I would totally marry a Khmer girl. Khmer girls have a little of everything in them that makes them cute, sexy, and unique. When I was little, my parents would watch Cambodian traditional and classical music where the apsaras would dance. I would have these tiny crushes on the female apsara dancers. They were all so beautiful in the gowns, crowns, etc. All glittery, sparkly, and gold. Nice and clean makeup. Longggg black hair. Nice long painted nails. Smooth skin. That kind of thing. Like what kind of man won't be attracted to a Cambodian girl?
If you have never seen the documentary, "Cambodia's Lost Rock & Roll", then you should. During the Khmer Rouge regime, the Khmer culture, traditions, music, art, education, books, etc. those who were mixed (non pure Khmer), wore glasses, spoke multiple languages, were politicians, teachers, queer, etc. were executed! Cambodia had lost 99% of intellectuals who would have made the Kingdom of Kampuchea a great nation, the country would have been just as strong and would have been more developed and advance as any other. My country has become one of the most underrated nation in the world. We were forgotten and closed off from the world in hell on Earth for five years, 1975-1979, and no one knew of the mass genocide that occurred until the Vietnam War broke out and American soldiers entered the border of Vietnam in to Northern Cambodia. Thanks to Thailand who gave refuge to the fleeing Khmers.
I was never raised to be prejudiced or hold grudges against Cambodia's neighboring countries. My parents hold high gratitude to their Khmer-Thai, Viet, and Loas counterparts, especially the French who aided my parents between 1979 to 1999. However, in 1997, there was a coup that occurred in Cambodia which deterred tourists. It was known as the 1997 Cambodian coup d'état held by Hun Sen. My father despises Hun Sen and many Khmers felt that Hun Sen was not leading Cambodia or the people where it needs to be and he was truly corrupt.
As the music of the new generation in Cambodia, is evolving, it is the young Khmer generation in Cambodia that is leading it's nation into love, peace, and healing. The younger generation is taking a twist on bridging tradition Khmer music and contemporary pop-rock modern music, so through it's collaboration, I'm just loving it! I always believed that music is an art and the gateway to the inner depths of the human expression, it was also the one thing that the Khmer Rouge attempted to destroy which was anything that makes us feel or be human. It is through music where I know Cambodia's older generation (Khmer Rouge survivors), my country, my people, and that the young generation of Khmers in Cambodia is helping our once war torn country back on track to prosperity through healing.
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Kaneda Yoshida (male pronouns: he/him/his) is a transgender activist, advocate, a trans brother to the Transgender Community and a fierce protector of trans youth. He is the original non-profit founder/leader of the Trans-Cis Alliance Coalition Organization (T.C.A.C, pronounced Tee-Kah). He actively and closely works with other LGBTQIA+ entities to bring about inclusion, intersectionality, diversity, justice, and equality for both the sex and gender diverse communities by campaigning, petitioning, and lobbying for individuals who face discrimination in schooling systems and in the workplace, rejection and abuse at home, as well as hate and violence in public spaces against LGBTQIA+ individuals. He has lobbied against anti-trans politicians, as well as capital institutions within the military, law enforcement, and city council government systems as well as took a stand against any entities that targets the health, livelihood, and well-being of LGBTQIA+ individuals.