Meet Jun Wat of Jun Wat in Studio City

by KhmerLife on Aug 09, 2019

Meet Jun Wat of Jun Wat in Studio City

Today we'd like to introduce you to Jun Wat.

Jun, let's start with your story. We'd love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My name is Jun Wat, but my birth name is Timothy Nang. I chose my new name, Jun, because I prefer the gender ambiguous nature of it. Wat also means temple in Khmer (my ethnicity), and symbolizes, for me, the sacredness of my body, my mind, and my spirit.

I grew up in Cambodia Town, which is a little area on the east side of Long Beach, California, but I didn't have the best upbringing. In the late 1970s, my family fled the Cambodian genocide, in which a quarter of the population was killed, and came to the United States as refugees. Many coped through drugs, alcohol, and gambling. And many still do. As a kid, it was a lot to contend with. Not only was I closeted, but I also inherited much of the trauma my parents brought with them. In atrocities, we always do a head count, but the truth is, a genocide doesn't end when the killing stops.

I can attribute much of my outlook on life to my grandmother. She went through a lot - more than any human should have to - but she always stayed positive and spread love to all those she encountered. She told me to believe in myself, even when I saw no future. And because of her, my father (her son) accepted me unconditionally when I came out of the closet.

That's what began my journey. After coming out, I chose to shed light on human stories, both good and bad. To represent my beautiful culture and community. I began fighting for LGBTQ rights, speaking publicly about the atrocities of the Cambodian genocide, often known as 'The Killing Fields,' and I began compiling stories from members of the Cambodian American community for a documentary. But my dreams didn't just stop there.

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