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?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Coming Out to...the Unexpected Best Friend

My Thoughts

I found her wandering around our house during one of my parents' innumerable parties. There were no other people there our age, so it was perhaps inevitable that we would start talking. I learned that she was a few years older than me and had only recently moved to England from Bangladesh herself. We were similarly liberal, outspoken and opinionated - and so obviously we got on like a house on fire. We were only occasional friends though, meeting now and then at different social and community events until my parents eventually relocated to Bangladesh yet again.

Normally, that would be the end of most occasional friendships. But for some reason in this case it wasn't. There were the semi-regular texts and phone calls for birthdays and Eid. It was odd, and completely unlike both of us, but today I'm thankful that we kept in touch. When I moved back to England for university, I already had a friend in town. Our friendship mostly ran in parallel to my university circles. The semi-regular texts continued, but were now supplemented by shisha, food and the occasional party. The many one to one meets meant the conversations would frequently turn to the philosophical realms of life, politics, religious beliefs, significant others and future plans. We had that friendship - the one where we tried to talk through everything in the world as well as sort out each others' problems.

I knew she didn't harbour any negative views of the queer community. I also knew she didn't have any Islamic objections either, and always chose to focus on peaceful and accepting aspects of our religion. I worried more about what revealing this secret would do to our friendship. Would she be angry that I had kept it from her like my other best friend? Or would it get awkward for some reason? Not because the idea of two men together bothered her, but maybe because bisexuality would be too hard to understand? I should have had more faith in her, however, as she has been one of my most wordlessly accepting friends to date. I told her as we sat in Nando's one summer, meeting up after I'd been out of town for a while for an internship. I remember fiddling with the cutlery, concentrating unduly on snipping another piece of chicken from the bone as I told her I was bisexual. I looked up to see her reaction, and she smiled. She told me that she had just been waiting for me to say, and she emphasised that it changed nothing between us. I was a little surprised - I thought her exposure to my relationship with my ex-girlfriend would have made her think differently, but apparently not.

She did say that she had thought I would come out as gay, but my being bisexual probably made more sense and besides, it didn't make any difference to her. To date, she has been one of my most supportive friends as she's been able to physically be there through my ups and downs, especially while at university. She's even promised to be there when I come out to my parents. Who know, maybe I'll take her up on that someday soon! 

Her Thoughts

Note: I got a wall-of-text from her, Facebook message style! So I've done a little editing here, and run it by her to confirm she's happy.

Honestly I was not shocked about what the whole bisexual thing. I was more disappointed that he didn't tell me sooner and I was annoyed to know that I was not the first one he came out to. He told a completely random person to gauge their reaction first which now that I think about it is very like him. However, at the time instead of being shocked at the fact that my best friend was bisexual, I was thinking of why was I not the first person to know and also that now that I know I can discuss guys with him. 

The coming out did not shock me because I had a suspicion he might be into guys but never said anything because I was waiting for him to tell me. I knew as a Bangladeshi it must be pretty hard to actually admit something like this so I decided to be patient with him. He was most probably trying to figure out how I would react. And as far as our friendship was concerned my respect and love for him has never depended on his sexuality so that did not change. 

When I was asked to write the post I initially thought it would be about my reaction to his coming out. I was then also told to write about my views on homosexuality and bisexuality. My views are nothing extraordinary, I am a 'live and let live' kind of a person and never really cared about other people's opinions about this. I used to think everyone thought the same way I do. I might sound presumptuous, maybe even ignorant, however I genuinely did think anyone who posses a brain would have the same views. Unfortunately I found out there are people in this world who do not possess a brain.

My eyes were opened by one of my colleagues who coincidentally asked me about my opinion on gay people. I told him its their lives to live as they please. He then proceeded to remind me that it's against our religion. To this I replied our religion also teaches us to respect everyone's choice and beliefs and not to pass judgment. Anyways the conversation ended with me calling him a moron in three different languages and telling him to f**k off when he said he is disappointed in me. 

I have a born Muslim gay colleague at work and he is bitter about how Islam approaches homosexuality. He doesn't believe in the religion because he gets treated so badly by Muslims. After hearing a lot of different opinions from Muslims some positive others negative I thought I would do some digging myself to see what the Quran says about it. What I found actually confused me even more because from what I understood it actually looks like the Quran asked not to flaunt the sexual act but that's true between straight couple as well. Maybe it's just my understanding and I am using the brain Allah has given me to find a plausible explanation.

Everyone is entitled to choices, it is as simple as that and as long as the choices we make don't hurt anyone, there is nothing wrong with them and that's what Islam teaches us.

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