“Uncle” Olive Yang: Royal turned opium warlord

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A look at the wondrous life of Olive Yang, the crossdressing royal-turned-warlord whose army set up opium trade routes in the Golden Triangle in the 1950s.

So here’s a wild story: lesbian (possibly trans) Burmese princess becomes opium-trading warlord to escape arranged marriage:

She was forced into an arranged marriage with her younger cousin; by her wedding day, her mother had died and her father was bedridden. She was expected to produce an heir for her husband, who himself was the chieftain of a smaller neighboring clan in Shan State.

In one version of the story, Olive threw a urine pot at her husband in a fit of rage when he tried to consummate their marriage.

“He was afraid of her,” sister Judy Yang, 77, said of the relationship between the newlyweds in an interview at her home in Yangon in 2015. Olive’s reputation for having a brash temper and carrying guns preceded her. “She didn’t want to be married to him, she didn’t want to have sex with him, and she didn’t want to be a mother.”

According to relatives, Olive’s choice to pursue a career as an opium trafficker was made out of desperation to escape her roles as a wife and mother in a society with few alternatives for gay women.

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