Father Figure: A Story of A Gay Boy
Author: John Ashley Moon (Pen Name)
Once upon a time, there was a gay boy in Bangladesh named John. John was only 16 years old when he fell in love with his cousin Tito. This was unrequited love. He didn’t know what love was actually as he was a teenage boy that time. He was sentimental, emotional, soft-hearted and very irrational; he was also prone to acting childish. But this is normal for a 16 years old boy, isn’t it?
John lived in a small industrial city of southwestern Bangladesh. He didn’t have an older brother. His father worked in a gas field. So, his father used to live at his workplace, which was far away. John had no father figure at home to guide him and teach him so-called “manly” behavior. He needed love from his father. But his father was reserved, bad-tempered, and very stubborn. His father was also crazy also for some unknown reason.
John still can recall that when he was only five years old and in kindergarten, the time he got a very high fever, and he was unable to sit or move due to pain in his body. He was unable to take part in the annual examination due to that high fever. But his father was stubborn and took him forcefully to the exam hall for the examination. Teachers were surprised and shocked to see that his angry father dragged little John to the exam hall with a very high fever. It could have been fatal for John; however, his father didn’t care about his health, he only cared about his exam and a good result on that exam. To him, parenting meant bossing the kids and his wife, as he is the bread-winner and the head of the family. So, he found it necessary to be very macho. So, people can guess how heartless person he was.
Anyway, John needed a role model in his life. Most Bangladeshi kids have their idols and role models. It could be an older brother, father, uncle, cousin, grandfather or even a male teacher. John had nobody. He had his overprotective mother and a selfish, jealous, bossy and introverted elder sister. John was not manly enough, so his neighbors, classmates, relatives, cousins, all used to call him “Half Lady”. John was not allowed to go to the playground with his friends because his over-protective mother used to think and believe that if John played with other kids then he would be rotten as ripe tomatoes, be influenced by them, and he would be a “Bad Boy”. All his mother wanted him to be was an obedient and gentle “Mama’s Boy.”
John’s family was very poor, so his mother had to struggle with money and monthly expenses. She used to think and believe that if John were to go outside and play with other kids then he would come back home and ask for new clothes, toys, shoes and stylish school bags. And she was so poor as to be unable to afford those things; therefore, John had no opportunities to play football, cricket or badminton. His parents were unable to afford to buy toys, books, bicycles, meats, fishes, fruits or even a pair of shoes. John was very ashamed that his family was horribly poor. That was another reason that he kept himself isolated. He could not learn how to ride a bicycle or how to swim. John was not allowed to go anywhere by himself except school. And every Friday he was allowed to go to mosque with male neighbors, as women were not allowed in the mosque at that time. If he came home a little bit later than usual, then his over-protective mother would ask hundreds of questions like a policeman who interrogates a criminal. And John can remember, that once he was coming home after school in the summertime, it was very hot and he had to return home by walking in the sun as his family was very poor as I mentioned earlier and they were unable to afford rickshaw fair. He was coming home with his classmates, as John’s mother was very anxious about “Chheledhora” (abductors who kidnap children and harvest their organs and sell those organs to some private clinics who are also involved in child trafficking.) Anyway, the main reason he was coming with classmates was so that he could shout for help if those abductors tried to kidnap him.
On the way home, his classmates wanted to climb up mango trees and steal mangoes from trees from the garden of the television station. They insisted that John join them. At first, John didn’t want to disappoint his classmates as he was desperately seeking their attention to become their friend and companion. But John was not manly enough; he was not brave at all to take any risk as he was very passive and submissive. But to hide his cowardliness he tried to pretend to be very moral. He told his classmates that it is very bad to steal something, and he also said that he didn’t know how to climb up. And he didn’t climb up the mango trees. His classmates called him a “Coward Pussy Boy.”
When his classmates climbed up the mango tree the security guard appeared suddenly and caught them on spot and bound them with ropes as punishment for stealing green mangoes from the tree. John was lucky enough to escape and run away as he was under the tree and picking mangoes. He came home late that day. His mother was furious but she didn’t know about that mango-stealing stuff, but she was sure there must be something wrong. She asked why he was late from school. He couldn’t answer properly as he was afraid, so his mother beat him with stick and spatula from her kitchen. Fortunately he had escaped from the security guard, but unfortunately, he got punishment from his mum.
John had to play with dolls of his sister which she had made out of pieces of clothes; he also had to play Ludo with his sister at home. He was not allowed to go outside. He was also not allowed to play chess as it is forbidden in Islam; nor was he allowed to sing songs. He was not allowed to dance; he was not allowed to draw pictures of animals and human as these are also forbidden in Islam; he was not allowed to laugh loudly as it was not a good manner according to his grandmother.
John had no opportunity to watch TV because they had no TV and his grandma didn’t like TV as she thought that TV is the “Box of Satan”. Even though his grandma didn’t live with his family the rest of the extended family members followed his grandma’s orders and commands. Another reason behind not having TV was the financial crisis as his father only earned 3000 Taka per month which was not enough. Plus his mom thought that TV was very bad for her children as it could distract them from the study and it could influence them to be fashionable and lazy.
It was 1994. John and his family used to live in a rented room at his own uncle’s house. He and his sister went to their uncle’s living room to watch cartoons especially “Tom & Jerry” on TV and a very popular TV show “MacGyver” secretly. But their cousins didn’t like them entering their living room. John and his sister had to study and do household chores or errands such as: fetching water from the tube-well and sometimes go to the nearby vegetable market to buy groceries. His sister was only two years older than him. They were friends until their younger brother’s birth. They were siblings and comrades. But if John’s parents praised John or bought something for John, then the sister would get mad at the parents and get jealous and would start yelling at their parents and fight with John. She was miserable, introverted, bossy, manipulating, pessimistic, and vindictive and she behaved very strangely for some unknown reasons. She probably suffered from bipolar disorder. One moment she was good and the next moment she was angry and gloomy.
They were not allowed to celebrate their birthdays as it is considered non-Islamic and anti-Islamic propaganda according to their grandma. Besides, it was very expensive for them to buy birthday cakes. All of their relatives were rich but they were poor, so they were ashamed of inviting guests as they did not have good furniture, proper crockery or utensils to serve food. That was another reason for not inviting people or not celebrating birthdays.
John had no better childhood. Once he was molested by his cousin Mezbah. The cousin was 25 years old and John was only 10 years old that time. John didn’t have any idea about human anatomy. He didn’t even know about the genitalia of a fully grown adult man. He just knew everyone has a penis to pee. John couldn’t tell his parents about the harassment because he was shocked and traumatized. He was afraid of his cousin and also scared of his parents. He thought if he tells his parent about that then his parents would probably beat him with a stick. And also his cousin blackmailed him and told him not to speak about the incident. His cousin said that if he tells about this then he would beat him to death. Surely, it was not a good experience for John.
John became a geek and his best friends were his books. He read a lot. His family was very religious. So, he also became religious, and he was not allowed to read novels. But he had a creepy imagination. He had weird dreams about heaven and hell. He even fantasized about Santa Claus in his mind secretly. He had a duality in his personality. He was confused as he was a teenager. He thought that he was a sinner as he had gay thoughts in his mind. He was not attracted to any women. He also thought that perhaps he was mentally sick and should go to see a psychiatrist.
John needed someone special to love him, to care about him, to protect him from sorrows and dangers. He needed fatherly love from a father figure. He met his cousin Tito when he was in class 7. Tito once lived in Dhaka. Tito was in his 20’s at that time. Tito was bisexual. Tito was a handsome, caring, manly, friendly, easygoing, and down-to-earth guy with a charming and charismatic personality. Tito’s family was very rich compared to John’s. But he was a nice person and had no arrogance about being rich. He didn’t hate John for being poor and underprivileged.
Their friendship grew from day-by-day. John felt that Tito could be his role model. John had lots of respect for Tito. He also had brotherly love. John became a fan of Tito and started imitating him. John began to fall in love. He started to feel a romantic and sexual attraction towards Tito. Tito also showed an interest in John. Their intimacy became a romantic relationship. John started to love him more and more day-by-day. They began writing letters to each other, especially love letters. Nobody suspected their relationship because they were cousins and it is normal to have brotherly love among cousins in Bangladeshi society. In John’s subconscious, Tito became a father figure. As John was passive and submissive, their relationship became a sadomasochistic bonding. Tito became the master as he was dominant and active in the roleplaying. Tito and John became a real couple as husband and wife.
Tito was at least 10 years older than John. At first, John didn’t know anything about sex, sexuality, sexual orientation, same-gender sex, love, romantic orientation, sexual and romantic roles, fetishes or relationships. From Tito, he learned many things. He thought that Tito was a very important person in his life. John had an empty space in his mind and Tito filled that blank space with his personality.
To me, it was not clear whether Tito really loved John or not. But John really loved him a lot that I can say for sure. When they were in a relationship and as time passed by, John grew up and evolved from a teenager to a young man when he realized that he was 100% gay by birth, and he was sure that he was born this way. He found out that Tito was not actually gay but that he was rather bisexual and he also found out that Tito had a girlfriend also at same time. Day-by-day, Tito became more religious and he also became somewhat homophobic. He started to ignore John.
Tito’s little secret came out to John one day. Tito actually played a mental game beneath his nice, charming personality. He pretended that he loved John. But whatever he did was for his sexual and physical needs. John was used as a commodity. John’s heart was broken when Tito got married to another girl for dowry. His family had arranged the marriage. Tito cheated on his ex-girlfriend and also exploited John. He said it is a sin to have a homosexual relationship. Finally, he told John not to contact him anymore for God’s sake.
John entered into the gay community of Bangladesh when he was studying in a university. He had a hope that his fellow gay friends would treat him well. But everybody laughed at him when they discovered that he loved older persons. They started to call him “Daddy Lover” and “Daddy’s Boy Toy”. All the gay men of his community still make fun of him for loving older men. John must have some kind of paraphilia. But we all have fantasies, fetishes, paraphilia or special preferences. He was not an exception. To him, he needed a father figure in his life like a banyan tree that can give him shelter and can give him refuge like the Mount Zion. He needed a savior, a soul-mate and a life-partner whom he can love, respect, obey, care for, follow his lead and guidance and share his life with dignity and trust.
John is sapiosexual and also believes in intergenerational romantic and sexual relationships and bonding. He expected support from his fellow community members. But instead of support, they insulted him, made fun of him, ridiculed him, criticized him, judged him, humiliated him and made him more vulnerable and isolated.
John thought he could have a meaningful relationship with an older gay man. But it was a pipe-dream. His previous relationship didn’t work out as much as he expected and imagined. He had an abusive relationship with Mr. Mike. Mr. Mike was a 55-year-old British gay man. At that time John was in his 20’s. John thought Mr. Mike would be his dream man. But in reality, Mr. Mike was a control freak and a cheat.
John was not John before. He was born into a very conservative Sunni Muslim family. He was not happy with his ancestral religion. He was told that there is a Heavenly Father in the sky above. The God the Father is in the Heaven who created everything and who He loves His creatures and children no matter what. He sustains them and saves them. John wanted to escape the homophobia of Islamic society and he thought Christianity would be a welcoming religion with lots of hope and love. So, he converted to Christianity. But he discovered that he has been fooled again. He found out Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and all religions are same with different interfaces. All are homophobic. Islam and Christianity are two sides of the same coin. John can see that Christians are also homophobic. He escaped from Islam but now he got into another ideology with hatred. It is a broken Hallelujah! Now he is asking to his Heavenly Father; “Dear Lord, Dear Heavenly Father! Why did you create me as a gay person if you really knew that everyone would hate me for who I am? Why did you create me as a homosexual person when you knew that it is a sin according to your beloved theologians, priests, pastors, preachers, missionaries and your beloved hate mongering believers? Did you just create me as a gay person by mistake? If so then how can you be an omnipotent and all-knowing creator God? Are you blind? Are you a loving God? Or are you a God of hatred? Is your clergy wiser than you? Are your prophets and ministers wiser than you? If you can create me as a gay person, then it is not actually my fault but yours! Thank you God the Heavenly Father for creating me as a gay person because I’m proud of myself, I have no regrets, perhaps I’m not perfect but I’m not broken! And you know that. Amen! Hallelujah!”
John is disappointed. John’s false ideology doesn’t work well. He is now more vulnerable, lonely, isolated, betrayed, rejected, abused and dumped on. Can he trust anyone now? Can he trust any religion, any law, and rules? Can he trust broader society? Can he trust his own gay community? Is his life ruined? Can he ever find his “Father Figure” and “Dream Man”? Is he a stupid loser? Or what?