And Who We Were Not, by Rich Paschall
Perhaps it is different now, or different in some places at least, but when I was growing up some decades ago, we were expected to be a certain type of person. I guess it did not matter to our parents and elders what we wanted to be. We were to be who they expected us to be. Many communities are still like that.
To this day some toddlers and young children are told to “Be a man,” or “Act like a young lady,” It is as if many adults do not want children to be children. I heard it a lot. So did my brother, I am sure. He may have heard it a little less since he was more serious and studious than I, but I digress. We knew we lived with a certain set of expectations and it certainly influenced the paths we followed.
Many are afraid to be themselves or to be themselves around family and certain community members. Most do not want to “embarrass” family and friends by not being the man or woman their parents expected them to be. Men were to be stoic and unemotional. Women were to be “ladylike,” whatever that meant. I saw how my parents, aunt and uncles, and grandparents acted. We knew what they said about our behavior, so we instinctively knew what to say and how to act in front of family. Even as young adults we understood there were times when we were just expected to sit quietly, the same as when we were children.
Outside the home, as young adults, we were reluctant to share feelings with members of the same sex. I had some close friends who I would never think to tell how I felt about our friendship. One day my best friend surprised me by telling me that he loved me, but would never feel exactly the same way about me as I felt about him. We spent so much time together for perhaps a decade at that point, that we likely knew very well how the other felt, but I could not think to ever say it, even in private.
Imagine saying in front of a large crowd “I am sorry” to your friend of the same sex for a moment of immaturity. Or express your feelings of love and friendship. What if thousands or millions were watching? Could you do it??
We have mentioned the international television hit drama series, Bad Buddy, a few times this year. If you add up the number of times each of the twelve episodes has been streamed, the number would be over 200 million (total, not per episode). Add to that the television broadcast, syndication, and worldwide DVD sales, and you would find that the series achieved success beyond anything the creators could have imagined. They clearly had the right young actors for the lead characters, Ohm Pawat and Nanon Korapat. Their fierce friendship in real life no doubt added to the performances.
With the popularity continuing for many months after the series ended, GMM TV decided to mount a live show depicting scenes from Bad Buddy through song and dance. That would be followed by additional musical numbers. This was billed as OhmNanon 1st Fan Meeting in Thailand. Instead of a theater, GMM TV, acquired the convention center in Bangkok to build a massive, multi-media spectacle featuring Ohm, Nanon, and many of the Bad Buddy actors. Unlike Nanon, Ohm was not a singer or dancer. He worked very hard to perfect his parts. He had a reason hidden in his heart for that.
The show played to many thousands of fans in the convention hall and apparently a rather large worldwide audience streaming it live. By all accounts, it was a huge success. The show was a three and half hour production. It was captioned in English since all but the ending was scripted.
There was a tribute video before the final number was to take place featuring interaction between Ohm and Nanon over the past year. How would you like to have your friendship, public and private, presented to the world? If Nanon was not crying hard enough when that was done, the tears were just beginning, After sitting at the edge of the stage for the video, the boys turned around to face the audience. Ohm began by thanking everyone as expected, but then he went off script, so to speak, providing a moment only live television can offer.
Ohm looked at Nanon and said, “I’m sorry.” He was apologizing for an immature moment that came after the Maya Awards. Everyone in the audience knew about the episode. Ohm had publicly apologized to fans and Nanon previously. He told Nanon he loved him and said, “I worked hard on this as a way to apologize to you.” It was not a secret that Ohm had been working hard for months, taking dance lessons, practicing singing and various instruments so that he could hold up his own in a long, live show. It was his gift to Nanon.
Through a steady stream of tears, Nanon also thanked everyone. He told Ohm he was never mad at him, just concerned. “I felt like friends can fight, but we’re stuck together.” He reminded Ohm that they achieved this successful day together and told him that he loved him too.
The live stream translator was running behind and may have been cleaning up some of the comments as he went along. What Nanon may have really said in response to Ohm was “I love you so damn much, dumbass.”
So there it was for thousands on hand to see and millions more later. Two young men had an intensely personal (and usually private) and vulnerable moment at the edge of the stage on live television. They bared their souls and said, “I love you” to the other. Does this mean they are gay? Are they Lovers? Does it matter?
There will be plenty of social media speculation, but that would be missing the point. Two men could express their feelings to one another even though they knew the world would be watching. That would never have happened when I was young.
See also: “Bad Buddy” SERENDIPITY, January 21, 2022.
“So How Does It End?” Bad Buddy Series, Serendipity, January 27, 2022.
“Top LGBT Series and Mini-Series,” SERENDIPITY, June 26, 2022.
“Five for Pride,” SERENDIPITY, June 27, 2022.