Whoever arrives back first after work, at the little wooden cottage they call home, makes dinner. Unless he is too tired, in which case they eat out. This is the normal daily routine for this couple.
Tin Ko Ko and Myo Min Htet fell in love 10 years ago, and immediately encountered barriers – rejection by family members, money problems when they first started to live together.
Now they will mark the 10th anniversary of their relationship by getting married, before relatives and friends. Theirs will be the first public gay marriage in Myanmar, though the location of the ceremony is a secret. Other gay couples have married, but preferred to do so in private because of prevailing social attitudes. The government won’t stop a gay marriage, but nor is it officially allowed. Tin Ko Ko and Myo Min Htet fear protestors might crash their wedding and try to stop it. Still, they are in high spirits.
“Words can't express how happy I am. I never dreamt that he would do something great like this for our anniversary. I thank him for his surprise gift,” Myo Min Htet said, adding, “I look forward to celebrating our 20th or 25th anniversary as well.”
Both will wear European suits at the ceremony, signing a document to declare their fidelity before witnesses. “I am happy that I can make a difference that other people in our community have never done before,” Tin Ko Ko said.
In 2004, Tin Ko Ko, then aged 28, left Yangon for a construction job in Magwe Region, where he met Myo Min Htet, an 18-year-old college student. At first they were friends, spending their days together, talking deep into the night and sharing everything. They had no secrets from each other. “Our friendship soon deepened into love. My parents thought we were friends, that we loved each other like brothers,” said Ko Myo Min Htet. “When our fondness grew, we decided to build a family and live under one roof together,” he added.
“We both dress like men and behave like normal men. That doesn’t provoke a reaction from people. We don’t have problems with the neighbours,” Tin Ko Ko said.