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LGBTQ Cambodian community uses fashion to fight discrimination

In Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, LGBTQ clothing designers at La Chhouk Recycled & Creative Fashion use catwalk fashions to battle discrimination.

“Many think of LGBT people as freaks,” Seng Super, co-founder of the group told the South China Morning Post. “We want to show people that LGBT individuals are capable of creating beautiful things.”

LGBTQ IN CAMBODIA

While visibility of LGBTQ people in Cambodia has increased in the past decade, anti-discrimination legislation doesn’t exist and many people who violate LGBTQ rights seem to live with impunity.

U.S. State Department should protect international LGBTQ human rights, bill says

LGBTQ people are vulnerable to homophobic attacks and abuse in the communities where they live, often from the people closest to them, such as family, relatives, and neighbors, according to groundbreaking 2014 United Nations report.

Also, many parents disown their LGBTQ children because they think they bring shame and dishonor to the family, according to the report.

Cambodia LGBTQ Community

“Many think of LGBT people as freaks,” Seng Super, co-founder of the La Chhouk Recycled & Creative Fashion told the South China Morning Post. “We want to show people that LGBT individuals are capable of creating beautiful things.” Photo: Prang Vattanak

RECYCLED FASHIONS

The LGBTQ designers at La Chhouk Recycled & Creative Fashion turn recycled materials such cardboard, cans, plastic bags, bottles, wire, and straws into beautiful Khmer-inspired costumes and jewelry.

At a fashion show last month in Phnom Penh, one model wore a dress inspired by the plume of a peacock and fashioned out of bottle caps and cement sacks. Other clothes walkers sashayed in plastic bag outfits that brought awareness to the endangered black and orange tiger. Plastic is readily available because Cambodia has an enormous plastic pollution problem.

Cambodian LGBTQ Communty

In Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, LGBTQ clothing designers at La Chhouk Recycled & Creative Fashion use catwalk fashions to battle discrimination. Photo: Prang Vattanak

PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

“We aim to protect the environment by inspiring and educating people so that they see more value in waste and recycled products, like aluminium, plastic, or paper products,” co-founder and designer Ith Sovannareach told Asia Life Magazine.

“We do this by transforming these waste products into beautiful dresses influenced by our Khmer culture, and highlighting the urgency to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.”

The plastic bag tiger outfit also was part of another show called Saving Wild that helped raise the issue of endangered animals.

Phillip Zonkel can be reached 562-294-5996 or phillip.zonkel@qvoicenews.com

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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