I need you

28 02 2010


Anyone who’s ever been in love would have used the words ‘I love you’ at some point of their campaign of persuasion. And most people over the age of four would have heard and understood the phrase at some point of their lives.  ‘I love you’ is possibly the most emotionally moving, courageous and meaningful thing anyone can say to another person and it takes precedence over any other claim that a lover especially, might make. ‘I love you’ has the power to remove all doubt, reaffirm one’s faith and even perhaps re-create feelings which might be fading away. ‘I love you’ is magical.

The words ‘I need you’ though, are not half as exciting and are not advertised half as often as ‘I love you’ in popular music and culture – implying as they do a more selfish wanting which is not necessarily a compliment. Unless of course you are of a masochistic turn of mind. And that’s the thing.

People leave relationships for all kinds of reasons. Discoveries of sexual incompatibility, differing life-agendas, infidelity and boredom are some of the common reasons one hears. (There are lots more of course, such as violence, mental trauma and other psychological issues which are more complex). Excessive neediness by one person however, is not really seen as a valid reason for the other to leave a relationship, possibly because it is not often very obvious and can take years to manifest itself to its true maximum potential of horror. Indeed, a person ditching someone for reasons of simple boredom might be astonished by the levels of uncontrolled insecure behaviour they could be forced to witness from a previously calm and stable individual. But how could we not know this about them? Is it an entirely new development in their character? Can we simply blame them and quietly sneak off or do we too have a responsibility for their condition? Why have we spent so many years with someone whose black hole of neediness is now driving us away? Can we honestly claim that we were not attracted to and turned on by this very need? Didn’t it appear to be sweetly vulnerable and didn’t it arouse all our most protective instincts – back then? Before it turned into this monster? Neediness could be the reason so many of us are in co-dependent relationships, that weirdly work if both parties are on the same page but not if one person decides to grow or change.

We all have needs, and these are mostly made manifest in our love relationships. And while we know that the failings of our childhood relationships with our parents almost always drive the flaws within the relationships we have as adults, it is interesting to observe how neediness works across all ages to different degrees. Since many of us have huge insecurities about ourselves, we seek to find the perfect partner. That is, one who will validate our lives, boost our egos and give us unconditional love. This is not easy. Some people spend their entire lives seeking their Soul Mate and most never find them. Most other people, gay or straight, settle for the closest thing and if this means compromising on attributes such as strength of character, will-power or critical analysis skills, then we are usually willing to do it. And some of us find our partner’s failings and flaws very attractive. Their fears, phobias and little white lies might be enchanting at first. In time however, the cost may be high and distressful.

In Sri Lanka as elsewhere, many straight relationships and marriages are founded on common interests, mutual benefit, social acceptance and family values. Gay relationships are not always so clearly defined and certainly do not have the public and private support systems that straight people can access. Sexual attraction is often a primary driving force and other factors may not be considered so important when falling in love, especially in a small queer community such as ours where choices are limited anyway. And neediness manifested appropriately can be the best means by which to attract lovers, especially in lesbian relationships. Many ‘fragile’ femme women’s maternal instincts are aroused by their ‘strong’ butch women’s need for mothering (which can lead to lasting relationships). However it could be that in crisis, the butch identified woman might completely lose the plot while the fragile femme might reveal herself to be the real Schwarzenegger of the two.

It is an interesting paradox. The very characteristics that many of us claim to aspire to and celebrate – independence, strength and unwillingness towards emotional manipulation, are not our most common experiences on the route to finding companionship and love. The refusal to use the weapon of need is rare. In reality the woman whose inner strength is too apparent could be so intimidating that few women and fewer men, would dare approach.

Where lies the difference between one person’s desire for honest intimacy and the other’s desire simply to possess?

Priceless responses by open-minded, liberal-thinking women

26 02 2010
  1. “Leave her for a few days at a time.” On breaking up with pull-all-stops partner.
  2. “Meet and talk to her.” Aka – Don’t worry about your feelings, just think of her demands.
  3. “It’s easy for her because she was the one who left.”  Walking out of home and living out of a suitcase is good training for nirvana.
  4. “You told too many people.” On confiding in mutual friends after partner told all and sundry.
  5. “You must also take responsibility.” For a violent end to a long-term relationship.
  6. “No proper handing over of duties.” On stopping volunteer work under no-way-can-you-go-there circumstances.
  7. “You chose to leave, so it’s not your house anymore.” On leaving home after a violent incident with no option of going back.
  8. “She can’t advise you because she is straight”. So she doesn’t know what happens when people are in relationships?
  9. “People will talk if you’re seen around with X.” Two months after the end of the relationship.

And of course, the best:

10. “Prove you’re not committing adultery”. To  reassure suspicious partner who sneak-peeks into text and mail.

Coming out

23 02 2010


I don’t have a coming out fetish – I know some people do. They have to come out to everyone. For me it’s not like that. I think it’s important to think about how my coming out affects the other person while I am thinking of the relief (along with the more painful consequences) it may give. Neither can I think of coming out as one side of a binary: out vs not out. Is anyone really completely out or completely closeted? I don’t think so. I think most of us go through life being out to different people and to different degrees. I am out to friends at work, I am out to some cousins and not others, one person in my family is oblivious to my love for women and with another I have a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy!

The first people I came out to were my group of immediate friends. I didn’t have to tell them anything. When I first fell in love with a woman in my late twenties, it was right in front of them. And they surrounded me with a safety net, without being told anything. What would our lives be without our friends! I had such good luck coming out to friends that I thought all my friends would be accepting. I was right. The people who were important to me were accepting. What I didn’t see was that people who were important to the people who were important to me, would find it difficult to deal with. So when my best friend started avoiding me, it was a shock. Obviously, she would put her relationship before her friendship with me, but how could such a wonderful, sensitive, open-minded person be with a conservative prick who thought being friends with a lesbian was bad??

There is nothing I would change about coming out to the people that I have come out to. But that doesn’t mean I have to follow that up with coming out to everyone in my life. You choose who you come out to (when you can choose). You try to think if this person is important to you, if it is important for this person to know this part of your life, how much good or damage it will do to your relationship with this person, and so on and so on. You have much to lose by coming out in our kind of conservative society with taboos against same-sex love, but there is also much to gain. You are yourself! No more pretending that the person you love is a man, no more pretending that you find the penis desirable and best of all, no excuses needed for crying when your ‘friend’ suddenly leaves!


I came out at 13. But not to myself…I just came out to the older girl I was in love with at that age – she was 15. I told her I wanted to be with her forever. I meant it wholeheartedly. Later in life, I married (a man). My childhood sweetheart told me I was making a mistake. The only person who had the balls to tell me that home truth! In my heart I knew she was right, but I never had the courage to act on that knowledge.

I came out again when I was 26. This time to myself and to the girl I was in love with at that time. My mother said “I should have known.” and “Why did I let you marry a man!” There was much drama. Then we broke up and she married – a man!

I was very sad and confused and lonely in those days – I think it lasted at least a year. Nothing could lift me out or up. It was one of the hardest times in my life. Until I finally met a few women like me… dykes! Hallelujah! What bliss… mad, confused, wonderful, strong women – the bravest women in the world. Finding this community was the best thing about coming out.

Since then there has been no turning back.

Of course this is the abridged version. If I were to tell it all like it really was, I could fill a book. But in the end I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Now I can truly say “Been there, done that and now I know what I really want. So there!”

PS: A cardinal rule in life: Be true to yourself first.


I came out very late in life – I must have been around 30 at least and it was sort of involuntary but also very definite. I was married at the time and hadn’t really thought about being a lesbian (I had trouble with the word, even) and certainly was not identifying as such. But nevertheless I ended up having one of the most spectacular coming out stories of all…involving falling in love with my best friend (at the time), while many other people – friends and family – contributed to much general drama and gossip that went on for months, ending in a divorce.

Looking back, the best thing about it was the fact that I was finally forced to deal with the elephant under my bed – the fact that I was a dyke and had plenty of evidence for this from childhood but never really took it on board for all the usual reasons – religious upbringing, family background, social condemnation, guilt, fear and all the rest of it.

The worst thing about it was that I hurt someone I cared about, who had never been anything but good to me, which I regret to this day, although I know I have been forgiven.

What I would have changed: I wish I had had the courage to know myself and come out when I was a teenager, which would have been a much more appropriate time and would probably have caused far less trouble all round. Today I am out to my family and I would be out to my parents if they were around. I am not overtly out at work but neither do I trouble to change anything about myself in order to inhabit that environment.

I have changed so much since then I think I am an entirely different person today. I have this idea that coming out marks the end of one life and the beginning of another. I am proud I took this road and though it has often been painful it has also been the source of the most joy. It is certainly the most real thing in my life. I have never regretted it.

Three things I love

21 02 2010


1. Sri Lankan food.

My idea of a greedy food experience would be on these lines:

(Yellow, red or white) rice.
Dhal with coriander leaves.

Beetroot curry.
Salmon curry.

Potato curry.
Gotukola sambol.

Brinjal pahi.
(MD) Mango chutney.

A fried egg and butter chillies on the side.


2. The sun (but only in Sri Lanka.)

Sri Lanka’s sun is surely one of the loveliest natural characteristics we have to offer. I’ve never experienced sunlight quite like ours anywhere else I have been – its always too blinding or too weak. Ours is really hot, yet mellow enough to lie in, especially if you’ve just been in water. I also love the colours of the sun in Sri Lanka…our sunrises and sunsets are always spectacular.

3. Sex.

Maximum pleasure for the maximum time. (Being in love helps).


1. The sea/beach

I love the sea, and especially the Indian Ocean. I can spend hours just watching out into it and listening to the waves come into shore. I also love swimming in it too, especially without clothes on (some days it’s like a warm bath.) Sadly though this is not always possible!

2. My girlfriend

She may not be perfect, but she’s perfect for me. I thank god – who is definitely female – and my lucky stars for each day together.

3. Thriller movies

Especially those with some action and suspense. I don’t like horror movies even though some suspense thrillers border on horror. Thrillers absorb me completely while I escape into another world, biting my nails and staring at the TV!


I realize they are all things to be consumed, so let it be known that I love looking at the sea as well!

1. Books

I don’t just love reading books. I love looking at them, touching them with my fingertips, and the ultimate – owning them. All of them. My mouth waters when I see books of many colours, textures and prints.

2. Sex

Something to be explored with the person I love. And ‘explore’ I think is the key word. But sex without sensuality has something missing as far as I am concerned.

3. Rhythm

Music and dance. They do things to me. Beautiful music, from the Carmina Burana to Lady Ga Ga sends shivers down my spine, and dances from anywhere in the world can make me feel the rhythm. I can fully understand why music and dance are part of mystical and religious ritual.

So Tiger Woods cheated. What’s your problem?

20 02 2010

How is it the business of the whole world if the man cheated? He is good at a sport. Admittedly one I can never see the point of, but never mind that! As far as I am aware, it is not yet a skill that entails upholding Marriage. But, I get online today and see that millions have been waiting for this moment when he will say

“Many of you in this room are my friends. Many in this room know me. Many of you have cheered for me or you worked with me or you supported me. Now every one of you has good reason to be critical of me.”

One wonders how having sex with someone other than your primary partner is related to how good you are at a sport or a job. So Tiger Woods is not a good sportsman because he slept around? Oh is he just ‘not good’ because he cheated, and that means he is not a good golfer? Why can’t he just tell the Public, ‘what’s your problem if I want to sleep around? I’ll deal with it with my wife!’ ?

Is it only me or do you also wonder why people (including Tiger Woods) assume that

  • because you show them your golf (or your spot on diagnostic abilities, smooth management skills, blah blah) you have to reveal your sex life  as well?
  • sex is somehow a part of your professional life, even when you are not a sex worker, pimp or porn star?
  • sex is a conduit for your other personality characteristics – you can’t be honest, truthful, kind, etc to anyone else because you have now had sex with someone other than your spouse/partner/SO?

How about this for a press release?

‘Really, people. Find some drama of your own’.

Do you believe in magic?

19 02 2010

Write to us!



16 02 2010

I recently saw what is probably one of the finest films ever made with an intersexed person as the protagonist. XXY – an Argentinian film set in Uruguay, is the story of a young girl – Alex, 15. She is born with atypical genitalia and has both breasts as well as a penis. The story revolves around her decision not to continue with hormone therapy. She is wonderfully androgynous as she moves through the film, surrounded by a group of friends and family living in a small windswept coastal town.

The adults are petty and judgemental. The children, who are discovering themselves sexually, come across as flexible young people who come to terms with their identities in a more mature way than their adult counterparts. It’s a film worth seeing, not just for the performances by Alex and her father but for the realistic way in which the whole issue of being born intersexed is dealt with by the surrounding characters: her mother who wants to get her gender reassignment surgery, her father who thinks she is perfect just that way she is, a surgeon who comes to inspect her and a group of boys who use violence to force her to show them her penis.

In the end Alex triumphs. I left the theatre knowing she would decide to continue to develop as a boy even though she was brought up a girl and that her parents chose wisely by not attempting to surgically reconstruct her gender at birth or even at 15. In the end, that choice was left to the individual. The decision for genital “normalizing” surgery would be suspended until she was an adult and could decide for herself….

Made in Argentina
Written and directed by Lucía Puenzo.
Starring Ricardo Darín, Valeria Bertuccelli, Inés Efron and Martín Piroyansky.

XXY has received widespread critical acclaim, winning the Critics’ Week grand prize at the 2007 Cannes film festival, as well as the ACID/CCAS Support Award. It was nominated for eight awards at the 2008 Argentine Film Critics Association Awards, winning three of these awards including Best Film, and was nominated or won awards at a number of other foreign film festivals. It was chosen to close the 2008 Melbourne Queer Film Festival. It is distributed within the UK by Peccadillo Pictures and had a short run theatrical release before being released onto DVD.

The film’s title is a reference to Klinefelter’s syndrome, also known as XXY syndrome, a condition in which males have an extra X sex chromosome. However, the main character does not display Klinefelter’s syndrome.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Vihara Maha Devi Park

14 02 2010

It’s alright if she doesn’t go to the same coffee shop!

6 02 2010

I shocked my mother when I was 17 years old when I said I saw nothing wrong in ‘living together’ as opposed to marriage. My mother was appalled. The first remedy was to tell me that it was a bad thing that would never be tolerated by her or my family. It didn’t stop there. How could a daughter who couldn’t see anything wrong with a man and a woman living together be trusted with finding a suitable man for marriage? Thereafter, no opportunity was lost in narrating tales of cousins getting married to ‘nice boys’ and the problems faced by friends’ daughters who got married to boys who were not from the same ‘family background’. Imagine her delight when she found out that I was going out with a nice boy (‘at least no need to worry about family background’) and her despair when she found out several years later that the nice boy had been ditched because he was not suitable (‘all men are possessive and want their wife to look after them’)!

While I was going out with the unsuitable nice boy I was asked a question by my guru. How is it that you fall in love only with a man from the same ethnic group, religion, and social class as you? Many times in my life I have thought of that question. All these categories are hard to cross: sex, ethnicity, religion, social class. Friends and relatives have crossed the lines of religion and ethnicity. It was not that difficult, it seemed to me, but maybe that was because I don’t care much about either. Falling in love with a woman didn’t bring me the trauma everyone expected. But maybe that was because I already had the politics for it. It seemed to me that of all things, social class was the most taboo. Invisible walls stop you from partnering with someone from a different social class. Nobody tells you you mustn’t, but it is understood that you shouldn’t.

But what the fuck? Why should love be bound by those walls? Who cares if your family becomes standoffish with the other family? They can stay away from your place. Who cares if you don’t have memories of the same hangout places? Just go hangout somewhere else! Who cares if friends can’t find common people to gossip about? If they don’t like it they can stop coming over! Who cares if you don’t sing the same songs and have the same group of friends? You can learn each other’s songs and hang out with everyone. Who cares if you don’t think in the same language? You can tell each other your dreams, you can still hold hands, and you can still make love.

Two things I hate

5 02 2010

Papaya: supposedly the most nutritious fruit ever known to Sri Lankan kind: totally repellent to me and my worst nightmare – and one I share with my sister.

Once we went to a beauty salon and were lying side by side while having a facial. We were totally relaxed with our eyes shut when the time came for the face mask. Guess what came out? A papaya mask! We both leapt up, ran to the washroom and nearly threw up together.

And geckos: I hate them so much I find it difficult to think about it long enough to write a few lines about them. Also a nightmare but more from a sense of fear than of repulsion. Once I walked through a doorway, closed the door behind me and a gecko fell on me. And it was just the upper part of its body. The bottom half lay on the floor in front of me, writhing.

(Story ends here because our writer couldn’t bear to finish it!)

Two things I hate

This was not easy for me….i guess I don’t have too many pet hatreds! But I did realize I dislike clutter and dirt in my environment. And this is not just at home. Even when I’m out in some parts of the city sometimes I find myself wishing I could clean up all the drooping telephone wires, broken pavements, overflowing drains, torn posters, hideous billboards and crumbling buildings and redesign the spaces to be cleaner and greener. I’m sure it will happen soon though.

Something else I do not like is what I can only call decoration. This includes china dolls, china animals, dwarves, nodding puppets, soft toys in the rear windscreens of cars, shiny dangling items in the front windscreen of cars, spoilers, brassware, flying ducks on the wall, macramé, pottery, carved furniture….

Thank goodness garden gnomes haven’t really made it big here yet.

Two things I hate

Inane programmes on tv. I. hate. them. Chief among these are the tele-dramas which include a parade of women in beautiful saris with immaculate make-up (even when they come out of a dirty kitchen) and start fighting with their mother-in-law, brother, brother’s wife and newly discovered half-sister. A close second is the generic VJ in the music programme with the fake accent and flapping hand motions. AAAArrrrgh.

Public bodily motions. Can people not walk the roads without spitting, coughing up phlegm, blowing their nose, picking their noses and peeing in public – trying to make sure that as many people see them as possible? Not to mention the S.A.M. adjusting his thingies and scratching away at them in full sight of everyone.

Phew. This was actually a very difficult exercise for me. I thought long about which two I want to pick out from my vast universe of pet hates. What makes me virulent? What irritates me? And now I’ve picked two that have just floated to the top of my mind. These are, of course, in addition to my intense hatred of S.A.M.s.