Becoming normal

12 06 2011

A friend living in a Scandinavian country recently told me of his difficulties in locating and meeting other gay people to hang out with. It is so normal to be gay in that country, he said, that they are difficult to find.

I found this highly amusing. What would happen, I wondered, if we actually became so normalized that we would disappear into the woodwork? Would we feel less special?

Lost in a crowd

I imagined life where you just walk into a pub with friends, queer or straight or whatever, and just have a ‘normal’ time with no complaints about people staring. Your commitment ceremony or marriage evokes the same tediousness as does your straight friends getting married now. Your queer friends have babies and you forget to visit them till the baby’s first birthday. You hold hands in public with your girlfriend and no one gives a fuck! There are few gay bars and not many gay parties (not secret anymore either), there is no need! Finding out if film stars are gay never occurs to you and coming out is a quaint thing that previous generations used to do.

Somehow, I can’t imagine my community of gay men and women enjoying that much normalization.





Rape is not a compliment

1 04 2011

Rape and sexual harassment are not compliments doled out only to the beautiful and alluring. They are an extreme form of bullying, and they can, tragically, happen to anyone.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/30/rape-is-not-a-compliment?INTCMP=SRCH





Coming out…

27 03 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/mar/13/dear-mariella?INTCMP=SRCH

THE DILEMMA:I used to think I was close to my twin sister. However, six months ago she got in touch with me on a social-networking site and said she was a lesbian and didn’t love her husband any more. I flipped out – mainly out of shock, but also anger. She refuses to go to counselling. At Christmas she and her husband “split up” and she moved in with my parents for all of three hours before going back to him. He is a solid guy and knows all about her supposedly being a lesbian, but is standing by her. I guess she still wants to be with him. I feel hurt and feel like I’ve lost my best friend. I’m just wondering how I can ever get my sister back, or do I have to accept she is now a stranger who I perhaps didn’t know anyway?

I read this letter (and the reply) in the Guardian recently and was struck by the issues that are raised when a member of the family decides to come out as gay. All my gay friends have stories about this traditionally life-changing moment and most of their stories are positive….in the end. Over time, most families realize its not going away, and simply give in, either embracing it all or just not talking about it at all.

I remember trying to tell my supposedly liberal and highly educated family of brothers and sisters, that I was a lesbian. One of them immediately blocked it out and pretends even now that she knows nothing about it; one of them tried manfully to talk about it but later started to avoid the topic and the third is now known to have worriedly discussed it with a friend saying “I think something must be wrong with her.” (My parents, fortunately for them perhaps, are dead)

Luckily my siblings and I don’t live in the same countries so I don’t have to deal with their reactions to my lifestyle very often. I know who I am and what I feel and this is not going away to suit anyone. I sometimes wonder how such intelligent people could be so retarded about an issue like this, in this day and age…but that’s how it is.

http://www.oberlinlgbt.org/bechdel/bechdel-1.html





What do you do when you arrive as an NGO?

20 08 2010

Spreading like a disease and very difficult to stop, this “NGOisation”. It starts insidiously with funders demanding registration of companies, progress reports, and audited accounts. And before you know it, you have been NGOised. Not that those processes are bad or evil in and of themselves. Money sent for specific groups must be accounted for. But if you don’t watch it, suddenly you are spending more time in AC rooms, writing up progress reports, and going to exotic countries to network with a clique of people who can vouch for each other when funding orgs try to decide who to give money to. Every new call for funding proposals is seen with lit eyes that can’t look away. Staff is chosen with their communication and networking potential in mind. Collective sighs are heaved about how the constituents we serve are not aware of what they really need. Secret mutterings can be heard of how little commitment ‘”our people” have and how difficult to get them to come for anything if we don’t offer money. And the bigger your organisation becomes, the more entrenched and ensnared you are in these coils, mindlessly deciding which community organisation deserves attention or which can die a neglected financial death. And suddenly you look around you and wonder where that inspired individual wanting to “make a change” has vanished. How does one keep from losing sight of the initial dream of a small organisation doing work that can be felt in your bones?





Can the newspapers take a stand on the homos, please?

29 07 2010

If we had ever thought the media in Sri Lanka was showing some signs – SOME – of turning around and being supportive of lgbt rights, today’s ‘Editorial’  in the Daily Mirror puts that to rest. Seriously. By sounding like the rant of a disappointed misogynistic male who has it in for not only the lesbians but also the women’s organisations.

In case the recent blitz of pride photos in the newspaper made you think otherwise, no, this is NOT the first time that lgbt organisations worked with the media. Many years ago, a regular FAQ column was run in a Sinhala tabloid which discussed issues of sexuality. Several years ago during pre-election times, national dailies ran advertisements that asked voters to think whether the chosen candidates stood up for rights of lgbt people and people living with HIV/AIDS. That was before newspapers stopped printing such paid advertisements for fear of ‘problems from above’. So yes, we have regressed. This is how it is – you take two steps, slide three back, but you keep walking forward.

Now, the problem for me is not so much newspapers refusing to publish anything on lgbt or sexuality rights issues. The problem is that they are inconsistent. What’s with putting out publicity articles on pride celebrations, pseudo-celebrity interviews, surprise comments by state representatives, and then writing an editorial like this?

Is it too much to ask that

1. an editorial actually reads like a piece of sound content written by the most senior journalist in the newspaper?

2. the newspaper takes a fucking stand on an issue?





Having lesbian babies: or looking at the sky through the eye of the needle

17 06 2010

There’s a lot of baby talk going around these days. I thought it was only us here, but there was our sister from lesbian neurotica commenting on the article in Time as well. I like babies in the abstract. Like, I want people to have them only if they want children. Like, it irritates me when people smoke with kids around. Like, it pisses me off when the state messes with the education system. There is all of that. But when the baby is in the room I can only admire from two feet away.

When I was straight, my mouth would set in a mutinous line when the boyfriend talked of children. But as a lesbian I felt I should support my partner if she wanted a baby. If she loved babies at least as much as I loved dogs, it was sad not to be able to have a kid. NOT a comparison. NOT. But. I can’t think of not having dogs in my life. So imagine seeing kids all around you and not being able to have one for yourself because of stupid reasons.

Like having to pretend you are married when you go to a hospital to get information on fertility. Can’t they just imagine you are a loose woman and still give you the correct info??

Like trying to find a gay-friendly gynaecologist who won’t have a fit when a woman walks in and says ‘me want baby without man around’. Needle in haystack, what!

Like not being able to adopt because you are not married to a man. And look at all those idiot families neglecting kids and those other kids who are in orphanages.

Like not being able to be artificially inseminated if you are not married and the husband hasn’t consented. What the fuck? Maybe the hospitals can start off a side business in marriage brokering.

I can’t even begin to say what a froth all this gets me into. But hey, we have our means.

wink





One third of me is an activist

9 05 2010

One of the things that emotional upheavals bring to my life is obsessive introspection. It makes me look at the run-up to the whirlpool that happened. It makes me look at my actions and it makes me try to make sense of who I am. I didn’t think of myself as an activist until I woke up one day and heard that what I was doing was called activism. I had worked with other groups with a passion for a cause but they had not called themselves activists. Was there such a thing as a professional activist?

I had no issues though. The experience was the same. There is a group of people. They espouse a certain cause. With passion. They live by the principles it entails. I was familiar with this scenario. I had been brought up on the exploits of revolutionaries and too many red shirts around the house. I knew what was expected. Heck, I expected it of others. What is it that working on rights entails that other ‘professions’ don’t have to deal with?

To look for this difference I had to think of myself in different professions: policewoman, accountant, software engineer, data analyst, graphic designer. Why does that FEEL different? If you ignore someone’s intention of suicide, can you tell people you work to prevent suicide? Can you fight for child rights and ignore the 14 year old servant in your mother’s house?  Look the other way and you compromise your principles. And ethics. And values. When you work for a cause, you give your life over.

Activists who think of it as a job? Sounds odd.