Coming out in inverted commas because I'm unsure as to how I feel about the term. No one should feel obligated to declare their sexuality - it is a very personal thing. However, we live in a world where people are assumed heterosexual until they assert otherwise, and as such coming out is often a practical thing you have to do. How can we expect to obtain our rights, without first asserting that we exist?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Opinion: Perspective

I wonder if I'm close to my parents. I don't really miss them, and moving out from under their roof was a relief. I barely call or email. We talk, but they are the ones who initiate contact. Yet when I fly to their's, it's nice to see them. We have a very open, forthright relationship that should be the envy of many a family. It's been hard work getting here though, as reading some of my other posts will show. We still have our fights and we disagree frequently. Often I wonder if there's any point to working on my relationship with them, given that they'll quite possibly end said relationship if I ever tell them about my sexuality.

I've always said to myself that I need to be realistic about this - the chances of my parents accepting my bisexuality are pretty slim. One day I may have to live my life completely cut off from them, and I'll be fine like I always am. But a few weeks ago I met a bisexual Bangladeshi girl in Dhaka, one who's parents know of her sexuality and are supportive. We were talking about how "out" she is, and she shrugged and told me that her parents knew and were fine with it, so what does it matter if anyone else knows or not? If I'm honest, this made me feel more than a little jealous. It also made me realise that despite the distance between my parents and I, they mean an awful lot to me. And having them in my corner would be an incredible thing.

I wish every kid out there had parents as supportive as this girl's. I imagine her's are the exception rather than the rule in Bangladesh. I've always wondered what it's like being LGBTQ in Bangladesh, and she was kind enough to fill in some of the blanks for me. Apparently, the gay community specifically is pretty well established underground. People are mostly active online and that's where they initially meet, whether it be for sex or something more. Sex happens wherever it is convenient for the parties in question - at home or in a hotel room. People are often out to close friends and sometimes even family. This sounds encouraging, although nothing is acknowledged in public. At certain university campuses, it's an open secret that so-and-so is gay. Most people don't really care, and even the homophobes are unlikely to ever openly confront anyone.

It seems to me that silence reigns supreme, as is so often the case with "controversial" topics in Bangladeshi culture. Right now, if you're discreet, you can go about your business as you wish within a supportive, close knit community of both straight and LGBTQ people. That doesn't sound so bad for a country where being gay can send you to jail for 10 years - and I imagine people are afraid to upset this delicate balance. Consequently, I think we're a while away from someone really stepping out and publicly acknowledging their sexuality. Also bear in mind, the community I just described come from the wealthier families in Bangladesh. They form maybe only twenty percent of the country's population, and I am still ignorant about what life is like for the average person. 

All told however, I remain very grateful to this girl for her time. She offered me my first glimpse of what it can be like in Bangladesh, and described a situation where there's more hope than I would have thought. And as always, it's nice to meet up with a like-minded person and crack a few jokes about what the poor straight/gay folks are missing out on.

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