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LGBTQ&A: Teaching English in Bangkok, Thailand with Brittany
Written by: Brittany
Last Updated: June 22, 2020
What is your citizenship?
Where are you from?
San Marcos, Texas
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Yes, I've traveled to Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, Wales, Belgium, Ireland, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Vietnam!
What sparked your interest in teaching English abroad?
I needed a change. I needed an adventure. I decided to ditch my flight home from Thailand and stay here to find a job.
What city and country did you decide to teach English in?
I am currently teaching English in Bangkok, Thailand.
What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My parents don’t even have passports. My mom was terrified, and she did not understand. My extended family was supportive, but a few let me know how they really felt. My dad was extremely supportive, he wanted me to chase the dream.
What were some of your concerns about teaching abroad?
I was worried about making friends and creating a community so far from home.
Were there any LGBTQ+ friendly resources you found helpful when deciding which country to move to?
It was such a rash decision for me personally, I didn’t even know what Asian country I would end up settling down in. I decided on Thailand more from personal experiences than research.
Please give your thoughts on dating abroad.
I used the apps to make friends. Travelers live in the moment. Things can escalate quickly and dissolve even quicker. I am a skeptic though. I have seen a few people meet the love of their lives while traveling.
Was there anything about being a member of the LGBTQ+ community abroad that was unexpected?
I didn’t expect that all of my core friends in Bangkok would also be apart of the LBGTQ+ community.
Did being a member of the LGBTQ+ community have an impact on where you decided to teach English?
No, other factors were considered when I chose Bangkok.
Did you come out while living abroad? If so, how did your host country and experience influence that decision?
Yes/No. My friends back home know that I am bi, however I never “came out” in Texas. I was definitely more open about who I am in Thailand than I am at home. I shared on social media about being in the pride parade. I think it was the first time I was open on social media. I received some negativity from some people at home, but I also received a lot of positivity.
Tell us about finding your community abroad.
In Chiang Mai it was easy, I made a lot of American friends right off the bat. I stayed close with them and continued to visit even after relocating to Bangkok.
Finding a community in Bangkok was a little harder. It’s a huge city, and I lived on the outskirts. I mostly made friends though meet ups, work, and friends of friends. I was the only American in my Bangkok circle. I am also from the south. It’s easy to make fun of the Southern American, I tried to not let it get to my heart. Sometimes I misunderstood the context of things because even though we all spoke English our cultures were different, words mean different things, and assumptions were made about me. While I did find good friends in Bangkok, I also learned to lean on myself. Push myself to get out there, to meet people, and to love myself.
What are some of your most memorable experiences teaching English abroad?
I loved spending time with my students. They were always so kind to me. I also loved getting to travel on my breaks from school.
Did you have any difficult conversations abroad about being a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
I didn’t really, in my experience the local people and other travelers were very accepting of me.
Did you find that locals had any stereotypes? Or did you have any stereotypes about the locals?
Locals treated me very differently when they knew that I lived there rather than when they thought I was a tourist. There are many stereotypes about the tourists that travel to Thailand.
Were there any cultural boundaries you found to be different than your home country? If so, please explain.
Of course, I was 10,000 miles from home. Almost everything was different. How you enter someone’s home, greetings, social gestures, eating out, the list goes on. I found that it felt very welcoming and friendly compared to how cold many western cultures can be.
What are your thoughts on safety in your host country abroad, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
Thailand is a very safe place for members of the LBGTQ community. Crime against foreigners is almost nonexistent. Bangkok is extremely diverse, there is a place for everyone in Bangkok. In my experience I felt safer to open up about myself in Thailand than in my home country.
Have you participated in any Pride celebrations abroad?
I was in the pride parade in Pattaya! It was by far one of my highlights of the time I spent in Thailand.
Have you had any weird or funny questions from locals?
Do Texans ride horses to work? Are you allowed to be gay in Texas? Do Texans love fried chicken? Is the fried chicken as good as it is at “Texas Chicken”? (Thailand fast food chain).
Do you have any advice for people planning to move abroad to teach English?
Bangkok is the sex capital of the world. You can be whoever you want to be there. You will find things that are much “stranger” that whatever it is that you are into. You will find others looking for the same things as you. You will also find that there is very little judgement in this beautiful city.
Additional LGBTQ+ Resources:
- ITA LGBTQ+ Video Library - Interviews and Instagram Takeovers from LGBTQ+ alumni sharing their experiences of teaching English abroad.
- ITA LGBTQ+ Blog Hub - Read stories, Q&A's, and more from LGBTQ+ alumni all around the world.
Brittany is from San Marcos, Texas. She holds a BS in Education from Texas State University. Brittany has taught English Language Arts locally in Texas and, after receiving her TEFL certification from International TEFL Academy, she taught English as a Foreign Language in Bangkok, Thailand. Brittany loves traveling, board sports, hiking, and coffee.
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