La Nuit Bengali
Perspective evolves with time; we need patience and empathy. For the longest time, despite my social privileges, I suffered from not seeing both sides of the coin. When asked to pen something for publication, I initially refused. I am neither an expert nor strongly affected by the killing of Xulhaz and Tonoy. When asked if I wanted a status to migrate and seek refuge abroad, I refused as I thought there were many brave souls who were vulnerable to the rising threat.
I met Xulhaz only a few times through professional networks. On the day of his murder, I was en route to Dhaka. As I landed, my phone was flooded with messages from well-wishers; they panicked more when they could not reach me over the phone. As I heard the news and the brutality, I got goosebumps. Suddenly it felt that people in the airport were looking at me as if I was their target. Who would jump out with a machete, or is the person next to me calling someone to inform them of my whereabouts? For days this anxiety and fear clouded everything. I hated myself for the stream of selfish thoughts in the midst of the murder of someone! The situation online was escalating, and my country did not feel like mine anymore. I felt ostracized by the hate towards the LGBT community. I would not deny, back then, I did feel the same as many ‘ ki dorkar chilo etto vocal howar” ( what is the point of him being vocal!). However, I never justified the murder. Today, I understand the importance of “pride.” The right to be, the right to love, the right to have sex, and the right to choose. Looking back today, it makes me question my previous self. I do continue to have doubts and challenges in adhering to many acceptable norms of the community regarding union and openess et al, but that doesn’t trump the basic human right “ the right to life and liberty.” Often I feel annoyed at the way pride is celebrated globally. Today, with too many living abroad, it has translated to a time of sex parties and clubbing; seldom the values and history of pride are talked about. It is the celebration of the freedom they have and a reminder for many of us who do not. Xulhaz wanted that freedom for us. I had no idea about the queer culture and its ways. As a young man, I used to think, “I am not like them”; I was so wrong! I learned more about the culture from my ex-partner, and I went deeper to understand it in recent times. Xulhaz had followed the mentoring methodology that many queer communities like across the world. Many queer children have no home to be themselves, to explore and learn, to understand and be understood, to make mistakes and not be feared, and lastly, to have a love of a family that they wish they had. I knew Xulhaz as an LGBTQI activist, but after his death, I learned that he was a mother. Like all mothers, his children miss him, and I respect him.
The author’s feelings, experiences, and opinions are solely their own. This text may not be republished without permission from MONDRO.
“Bikkhipto Onubhuti” (Scattered Feelings) is a MONDRO archive compilation on the Tonoy-Xulhaz murders. In this compilation, different people in the community expressed their feelings about the incident.