Homosexuality from a Samsaric Perspective
In The Escape to Myanmar homosexuality is interpreted from a samsaric perspective. I do not mean from a Buddhist point of view, because the Buddhist perception of homosexuality is condemnatory. In Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced in Myanmar /Burma, there are five basic commandments to be followed and one of these commandments is to refrain from sexual misconduct, which, according to Richard H. Jones includes homosexuality (Mysticism and Morality: A New Look at Old Questions, Lexington Books, 2004, p. 154). Thus I have written from a cyclic perspective without religious morals involved.
The character Viktor in this story was the Myanmar/Burmese man Aung in his past life, while the refugee coordinator Nay Lin Aung was a woman called Katja in his former life. In the serial of novels, State of Emergency, of which The Escape to Myanmar is a freestanding sequel, they where husband and wife.
In The Escape to Myanmar Viktor has a heterosexual relationship with Lisa, while Nay Lin Aung is single. When they arrive to the town Nyaung Shwe in Myanmar, where they (Aung and Katja) met first time, Viktor gets more and more flashbacks:
He closed his eyes and let the images come as they wanted instead of driving them away. Two persons sitting on a balcony. One of them was a man and he played the guitar. The other was a woman with golden hair and she was wearing a green dress.
Viktor feel more and more attracted to Nay Lin Aung whose green eyes resemble the eyes of the woman in the flashbacks he gets:
He closed his eyes and tried not to think about anything other than what happened, but when Lisa untied the knot on his longyi he once again saw eyes that reminded of Nay Lin Aung’s. Then he thought about nothing more.
I got the idea to write about homosexuality from a samsaric perspective after watching a Myanmar/Burmese film called Strand, by film creator Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi. In this film a male teacher falls in love with his male student Moe Sat (”raindrop”, a name which in my opinion can also be interpreted as a drop of water ”ye set” which in Myanmar Buddhism also has the meaning of meeting again in a another life). Moe Sat is a reincarnation of the teacher’s former girlfriend Moe, who died. They cannot break the fetters of attachment, thanyozin, to each other, and therefore they meet again in different roles. In the end of the film Moe Sat dies, but is reborn again as the teacher’s baby girl.
From a samsaric perspective anyone could have had either sex in a previous life, and because two people who had a relationship in a past life can be reunited in the next, they may as well have the same sex when they meet again.
The problem Viktor and Nay Lin Aung wrestle with in The Escape to Myanmar is the conflict between the strong ties that exist between them on one side and the social view of gay relationships on the other. Are social conventions stronger than the bond, thanyozin, between them? Will they accept their destiny or not, and what happens if they do not accept it?