Hundreds of locals and expatriates alike flocked the Banquet Hall of the city’s creative hub Factory Phnom Penh on Tuesday evening to catch the special edition of Nerd Night, held in conjunction with Pride Week 2019.
A collaboration between the Nerd Night team and a movement representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex (LGBTQI+) community I Am What I Am, the event featured eight speakers speaking about matters close to their hearts.
Mirroring the format of Japanese PechaKucha Night, each speaker was allocated 20 seconds for each of the 20 slides to share quick glimpses into their life, work and interests especially in relations to LGBTQI+ issues. Attendees were also given the chance to ask questions to the speakers right after, with the help of hosts Carlos Estevez and Claire Baker-Munton.
On Tuesday, Nerd Night began with Chhum Ratha who recapped LGBTQI+ empowerment activities in Cambodia over the past 10 years, followed by Vic Salas who highlighted global LGBTQI+ sporting icons and the challenges they faced as members of the community. Nicol Bear made the audience ponder with Alphabet Soup – a monologue about some of the abbreviations used to describe the community and where she personally fits in as a queer person.
Another speaker Byron Smith, spoke about LGBToons, where he looked into the evolution of the LGBTQI+ community in animation, especially in mainstream media. Meanwhile, Fatima called upon her peers to join in on the true Gay Agenda. The audience also listened to Ratana Sopha’s heartfelt talk about his own and the society’s idea of what makes a man.
The beauty of Nerd Night is that despite having a central theme, the subject of each talk could vary from a serious discussion like Lean Chhorvon’s presentation on domestic violence specifically on lesbians, bisexuals and transmen in Cambodia, to a mash-up of feminist theories and mammalian genetics to celebrate the unique contributions of lesbian and other queer femmes by Maddie Rita.
The colourful evening was capped off with a spectacular show by one of the local drag queens who performed a medley of Lady Gaga hits including Paparazzi, Bad Romance, Poker Face and Million Reasons.