Sam Nathapong 「Reluctant gay icon Ben Chalatit: ‘I don’t want to play the sassy homo’」

Posted on May 08, 2015

Ben Chalatit, 33, is a veteran of Thailand’s pop music scene. From his early days singing the hit 「Celebration」 (2002) as the frontman of Monotone, he crooned his wa to the top of the charts again with 「Klai」 and 「Yue」 – and even appeared on stage in 「Miss Saigon」. The openly gay artist is now back, as a judge on 「Thailand’s Got Talent」 and in cinemas in 「Miss Happy」 (out May 21), and is also gearing up for his latest concert, 「Come Into My World」 (Jul 25 at Impact Arena). Here, he tells us the secret to his longevity in Thailand’s notoriously fast-paced entertainment industry.

I’ve been singing ever since I can remember. My parents, just like a lot of parents, encouraged their kids to sing for family get togethers, to show off. That’s how I picked up singing.

I’d perform in front of our house. My family would host parties for all kinds of occasions like birthdays or the New Year. The neighbors in our soi would join and all the kids would be urged to perform on stage. At the time, I had no idea I’d keep doing this as a grown up, in front of thousands of people.

I started to write songs as a kid, too. In elementary school, 「Khu Kam」, the soap opera starring Bird Thongchai, was huge. I went crazy for it and wrote a song based on it.

In my sophomore year at Mahidol College, I joined the band Monotone as the lead singer. It was the high point of Fat Radio, before 「The Star」, 「AF」 [「Academy Fantasia」], which rewrote the definition of working in the music industry, how to break in and so on. As a band, we didn’t even think about breaking into the music industry. We just enjoyed ourselves performing and creating music.

Most of the songs I wrote back then, the songs I’m still writing now, are about love, love in every aspect; puppy love, unfulfilled love, disappointed love, unrequited love. Ninety- nine percent of all songs are about love. What else would we want to sing, or hear, if not love?

I tap into my beliefs, my past, and express them in the form of lyrics and music. But I’m not a guru, neither on songwriting nor on love. I rely solely on honesty. If I’m true to my feelings, that’s the best way I can come up with an authentic Ben Chalatit song about love.

A good love song has to be emotional enough to impact every listener out there. We can’t predict what’s on his or her mind but the essence of an honest love song is that it carries some kind of universal substance that is meaningful to everybody.

I’ve made it. Yes. But I still feel stage fright every time I get out there. I use it as a fuel to give my best to my audience. If one day I get out there in front of thousands of people and feel nothing, that will be the end of my career. I wouldn’t have the power or the excitement to deliver something new. Stage fright is, somehow, a good thing.

I never denied that I am gay. No one asked me. A news reporter didn’t put a microphone to my mouth and ask what’s my sexual orientation when I entered the music industry ten years ago.

I hung out with my boyfriend in public a lot. But news didn’t circulate the way it does now. You had to actually see me with him to know I was gay. Now people just read about it on social media.

I don’t want everybody to see me as this fabulous gay icon. I want everyone to treat me as a normal person. You don’t necessarily have to put a crown on my head and regard me as an icon.

The media has made it easier for well-known people to come out. But I hope that it’ll get to the point where everybody’s equal. We don’t need to celebrate someone just because they finally came out as a homosexual. That’s another form of inequality.

As an actor, I don’t want to play the sassy homo anymore. I’ve had enough. I hope I get to play something else so people will see me in a new light.

I never considered myself special. That’s a lie we keep telling ourselves. If you follow my Instagram you’ll see my lifestyle is pretty simple. I like staying home in my boxer shorts.

I do think love is about being happy with what you’ve got.

Author: Sam Nathapong/Date: May 08, 2015/Source: http://bk.asia-city.com/city-living/news/reluctant-gay-icon-ben-chalatit

Ben Chalatit เบน ชลาทิศ ตันติวุฒิ
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/benchalatit/

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