Two worlds, three women

25 06 2011

1.
When I was younger I was married for around six or seven years. I remember this as being one of the happiest times of my life, for three reasons. One was because the man concerned was an unusual one -talented, confident and quite comfortable with himself -a rare characteristic as far as Sri Lankan men go. The second thing was that for the first time in my life upto then, I was comfortable with myself. And finally the fact that for the first time in my life upto then, other people were comfortable with me.
Life as a queer woman in Sri Lanka, I find is a completely different experience. I am very used to feeling like the weird person in the room since childhood, since that is how I have always been. But being queer in Sri Lanka is a whole different level of weird. So many doors are closed to you, so many things you don’t say to so many people, (often the ones you’re closest to), and so many, many, many things you just don’t DO.
There are places one avoids, conversations one edits, dreams that one abandons, all because you know that for so many people, knowing exactly what and who you are would be just too much to handle. These are the two worlds that many of us inhabit – straight and queer. And still for its difficulties and trials, I know where I belong.

2.
I had girl friends before and after I had boyfriends. Boy friends were uncomplicated. So uncomplicated that I managed two at a time. I was doubly spoilt, taken out to nice restaurants, shown off and generally proudly paraded to friends and family.
With girl friends it’s always been hidden. Never met the parents, never taken home, never invited to dinner with family and rarely taken out.
Yet if you ask me now why I choose secrecy over acceptance I would say “to be myself”. With women I am me, not pretending to be someone I am not, just to please him or his family or just to save face. With women I can be that dark and dirty secret that lives in a closet – but that closet is my own and dark and dirty can be exciting!

3.
In school, for a long time, I was one of a handful of girls in the class who didn’t have a boyfriend. I would either be surrounded by discussions of how some adolescent male looked, touched, gave letters or arranged a secret meeting on the way to tuition classes with my classmates. Or I would have to listen to prim and snooty comments of ‘we’ were much better than ‘those girls’ who had boyfriends. I didn’t want to be in either group. Then in my early twenties, I had an intensely boring and terribly depressing relationship with a man for too long.
Life was much easier, though. It didn’t even occur to me that there would be a time when I would look wide-eyed at how joyfully people around me would greet news of upcoming weddings. Or that I wouldn’t be able to hold hands in a restaurant with the person I love. Or edit certain parts of my life when talking about myself. Or that half the family – the half that had tedious marriages and lackluster lifestyles – would be talking about me in horrified tones. When you are straight, you take these things for granted. I only had one complaint.
Men just didn’t work for me. Nothing to do with lesbian tendencies in denial. The men I was with blamed it on a home with ‘too much’ independence and an education that was ‘too feminist’. With women, my world fits together nicely.

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Everyone wants to be a lesbian

15 06 2011

So what’s going on with all these men pretending to be lesbians online? Like we don’t have enough trials of our own to be going on with, now we have to spend time trying to figure out if that increasingly interesting online chat is being conducted by some hairy fat man in a vest with a good line in conversation and nothing better to do with his time.

Like we’re not all paranoid and defended enough as it is. It’s enough to make one want to give up on the internet altogether, I tell you. After all, there are loads of us, who like many in the mainstream world of online chat, have much deeper and more intimate relationships with our online lovers than any we do in ‘real’ life. It’s one of the few spaces we can feel alone, intimate and unobserved, especially if you’re queer and live in this particularly bigoted region of the world.

So what the fuck? Last week we followed with increasing interest, the story of a blog that we carry on our links which seemed to reflect many of our own anxieties and fears – the story of a young, lesbian activist being threatened and finally kidnapped in Syria. The discovery that the blog was written by a ‘middle-aged, married American man’ aroused varying emotions across the homosexual world, ranging from outraged fury and paranoia, to amusement.

Later the same week, Paula Brooks, executive editor of the US-based lesbian and gay news site LezGetReal, was exposed as being a fake identity created by Bill Graber, who now says he is a 58-year-old from Dayton, Ohio.

Eek.

So who else is out there, (presumably) hiding from his wife, scratching his balls and busily typing away?

And why? What is it about our poor persecuted demographic that makes men want to BE us? We already know that most straight men’s top fantasy is to watch and/or participate in a lesbian encounter and we find that creepy and humiliating enough. And while we’re all for freedom of speech and would be the first to support great fiction writing, this weird and deliberate deceit of gullible women (never mind the general public and the damage done to the queer cause everywhere), ends up being just another sample of male arrogance and entitlement .





Amina has been kidnapped!

7 06 2011

     

This is outrageous.

Syrian blogger Amina Abdallah kidnapped by armed men.

Author of A Gay Girl in Damascus had shot to prominence for her frank views on Syrian uprising, politics and being a lesbian…

Note: there is now discussion on the identity of Amina and whether the blog is fictional. See the Guardian and New York Times articles on this.





Don’t talk, just kiss

16 04 2011


Hundreds attend kiss-in outside John Snow pub after venue closes its doors.
Soho pub which ejected gay couple for ‘obscene’ kissing closes in bid to thwart protest – but kiss-in continues right outside.

Follow today’s developments in our kissing in public live blog





Since when did the lesbians colonise merging?

10 02 2011

I am constantly struck by how self-obsessed we are as a community, we lesbians. This time the moment came on when I was surfing online and saw the words LESBIAN MERGING.

‘We are lesbians. We have to beware of merging. You don’t want to wake up walking, sounding, dressing like your girlfriend. It is like a sickness, this dreaded merging that happens. It kills your romance and turns you into two old aunties.’ Since when did the lesbians colonise merging?

People merge all the time. Some groups of people – children, women wearing chador, people in uniform – are forced to merge. Some aspire to it – when you are a teenager you want to look just like your two best friends, same hairstyle, same skirt length, same brand of jeans. Have you seen those generic young men walking around Colombo wearing their hair like they were electrocuted?

Then you become a lesbian and discover lesbian merging. You want to get your navel pierced while you are staring at it?





Naming and shaming

29 01 2011

Are we instigating murder?

You may recall, the Sri Lankan media, under the directive of the Police Crimes Division, published photos of men and women who they claimed appeared in porn movies.  Subsequently, these people’s lives have been completely ruined. Some have been expelled from their homes and can never show their faces in society again.

In Uganda, a prominent gay rights activist was murdered in his own home, following a newspaper article that published pictures of several Ugandan homosexuals. The headline that appeared in October 2010, read “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos” and showed photographs of some of them. David Kato was among them. By the end of January 2011 he was murdered.

In the months in between, David had sued the Rolling Stone newspaper that carried his photograph for defamation. In the meantime The Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity. However, it seemed like no one really paid any attention to Kato’s action of suing, nor to the Supreme Court directive.

This is a lesson for all of us and a lesson for Sri Lanka too. By trying to name and shame people  who are different, either because they sell sex, appear in porn movies or have sex with people of the same sex, we create stigma and discrimination against them and also instigate violence.  In some cases, even death.

Do we want to sleep with blood on our hands?





Feeling Queerly this New Year?

2 01 2011

Never do I feel more resentful about heterosexual privileges than on Significant Days. Birthdays, New Year’s Eve, Aluth Avurudu are all designed to make me feel conflicted and low. It is family time and I love spending time with my family. But what enrages me is how difficult this time would be if I want to spend it with a partner – of the same-sex.

All around me, straight cousins and friends spend Significant Days with their spouses or with family, or both. If they don’t turn up at the family event on this Day, they are not asked why. If they do turn up, they are not expected to leave their spouses behind. If you are a straight married female, or even engaged, these are Days when you say ‘I am spending it with him’ and Society smiles fondly.

For those of us in this country who love women, such a scenario is a luxury. Unless you don’t have much to do with your family anymore (all too common in our community) or your family has accepted you just the way you are (I am happy for you. Really.) the day seems far away when we can choose to spend a birthday or Christmas with the woman we love without having to find excuses or feel guilty.

Happy New Year everyone, and here’s hoping you can spend the next New Year queerly!