Ignorance can lead to violence

”Homophobia” -to me- is another way of saying ”I do not know who you are and how you work, so I am going to hate you because that’s the only thing I CAN do”. See, the problem isn’t that people are affected with homophobia, it’s that people are ‘taught’ that nothing is wrong with being homophobic, that it’s actually a good thing. It makes one pious or ‘sane’. Any person with a basic formal education with no gay friends or little to no exposure to what homosexuality really is do not know that the hate they bear, the mentality they bear is irrational or wrong any more than how an uneducated villager understands that being a male does not by default make them better than women. It is something that is instilled into their brains as one’s basic ABC’s. It is easily ‘curable’ with proper knowledge of what homosexual people are, the understanding that they are fully functional, emphatic hard working human beings just as the heterosexual are. As for religious views, the terms of religion not taking a shine on homosexuality is understandable and a gay person does not require ”acceptance’ from everyone. Just basic rights as any other human being does. Things not supported by religion still run legally all over the world, people live in a society, a mixture of religions, minds, people and races and cultures. You do not see a Muslim person violently beating up or murdering another alcohol drinking Muslim person. Or even just an alcoholic. Yet drinking is one of the bigger sins in Islam. The Muslim person refrains from drinking, as his faith does not allow it, but doesn’t treat the drinking person any less. So why the limelight on one particular action considered a sin in your faith? The answer is no exposure or knowledge of gay people. So this is what homophobia means to me, the aftermath of keeping people from a piece of information, the birth of ignorance. (Note that faith practitioners who do not ‘agree’ with homosexuality but refrain from hating or treating a gay person any less than other people do not count as Homophobic, just simple they ”Agree to Disagree”.)

Now the homophobia in Bangladesh, that is something one has to experience first hand to know what it feels like. I suspect it’d feel something like a how a girl in saudi arabia would feel when walking out of the house un-escorted by a male and nor wearing a jibab and a hijab. Shunned, hated, cussed at and ofc random violence inflicted upon them all because of someone else’s opinions or faith. I as a gay individual have faced less homophobia than most people I’ve spoken to, I am lucky in that way. I’ve only been cussed at a handful of times, beaten up twice and threatened a few times. The daily debate of ”You are an abomination/unnatural” is pretty common for me. Most of my friends and acquaintances are not homophobic. They treat me fine, and the fact that I am gay does not make them see me as any less of a person. But some of them, they were homophobic before I had come out to them. After seeing their friend/family (namely me) come out as a gay individual, something in them clicked and they saw ”Hey, he’s not all that different from me, what was I so scared about with gay people?” When I came out to my family, they took me to a psychiatrist, as I was appointed a therapist. Needless to say that didn’t last of a very long time. But eventually my brother has come around and now is understanding and my mother is well on her way too.  It makes life hard sometimes, feeling as if it’s my bad luck to be like this. But some days, I feel good. I feel like even through all of this, the fact that I haven’t lost my way or that people could not prove me wrong or that I have so many people having my back, I feel loved. 

Even though I haven’t faced even half of what others face, there was this one incident that stood out from the rest. Maybe it’s because the person to inflict pain on me had been a friend of mines for a while. After coming to to a few people I had decided to come out to one of my other friends I ‘though’ would understand. I had been friends with him for a year (this was back in 2011) and he was a few years older than I am. So when I DID come out to him in the most diplomatic manner I could think of, what he did next was beyond anything I could have imagined. He pushed me so hard I hit the wall and crouched down to regain posture (yes it hurt, duh!) and then he kicked me, right on my stomach. It hurt very bad, gladly it did not damage any of my organs, but it did leave quite a bad pain for a week or so. He called me vulgar names and even tried to spit on me. To my luck he was bad at aiming (phew!). his girlfriend who had been watching the entire thing forced him to leave with her only when people had heard his yelling as started coming. They started at me and later on were told that it was a normal teenage fight and that it wasn’t a grace issue. Thankfully they left without much inquiry. I was more hurt emotionally, mind you though the physical pain was no afternoon’s nap either, but that was the first time someone hated actually ‘hated’ me upon me coming out. To this day I still wonder what sort of mentality or experience might have pushed him to do something like this! 

Well however, I’ve since then come out to a lot of people. Judging my safety and everything I have come out to over 200 people. I know more people know, cause well, people talk and love to gossip. Despite the risk factor, I feel like if people get to know even one properly functioning gay person in their life, homophobia wouldn’t be an issue to them. I feel proud to say I have helped change a lot of people’s views on gay people, helped people come out and feel like someone understands them, represented a community barely acknowledged to people. I know my actions alone don’t represent all gay people, but it had to and still has to start from somewhere. No, I do not let the fact that ”I am gay” rule my life. It is a part of who I am. One of the thousands of things that make me who I am. But facing reality, I know it is one of those factors that most people will see first, or the only one that some would want to see. So I do try to keep my posture and calm and help people understand us instead of expecting them to be open minded at one go. progress isn’t made in one day, or by force at one go. It is made by time, blood, sweat and tears of every individual who has ever tired to make it happen. And I believe that I make some differences around me to. Might be a coward’s comfort or might not be. 

I would like to end with saying, to all people who fear gay people or do not understand them, please understand that whatever experiences you might have had with one bad gay person or whatever you’ve seen on news about a gay rape or anything, it does not define the entire community. Just as a black person committing a crime does to represent the entire black race, the same goes for gay people. There are good ones, and there are bad ones, but we too are people. We feel happy, sad, lonely, we cry, we laugh and we want loved ones, a family, a happy life. So please, do not criminalize us or keep up from having a normal life, cuz our being gay does not ‘harm’ you or affect you in any way. Do not push us into the corner, criminalize us legally, take away our rights and safety solely cause we’re gay, and tell us ”go ahead, do whatever you want to do”. You do not have to be a part of being a gay person to understand that we too need lives like normal people. We are people who have consensual relationships with adults who know what they are doing. We are not pedophiles who force themselves on children. Judge us for our actions, not our orientations. 

Love and let love!

Source: Bangladesh Against Homophobia (BAH)

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