I sit down for coffee in downtown Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city of around 1.3 million, with Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel. As we talk, a group of school girls sitting adjacent to us giggle. They have recognised Tsedendemberel, the first gay man to publicly ‘come out’ on a Mongolian talk-show in 2010.
Now executive director of the LGBT Centre Mongolia (the country’s first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender [LGBT] rights organisation), Tsedendemberel, 33, is the most famous gay man in Mongolia – with only a handful brave enough to live open lives. He says he is lucky to have a supportive family, but many don’t.
“It is very difficult. That’s why there are only about five people who are openly LGBT in this country,” Tsedendemberel says.