The exhaustion comes from maintaining the frame of freedom. Maintaining that structure above your head, around your body, that gives you the freedom to move a bit. Move enough. It isn’t your full wingspan, it isn’t everything you could do. The exhaustion comes from knowing that it’s only a fraction of your potential but also knowing that, if you don’t maintain that fraction of space, there will be no room at all.
This is a queer problem. It requires a queer solution.
People are being killed. All kinds of people in all kinds of places. Targeted. Planned. Angry mob murders. Serial murders. And there is no real sense that can be made, no coherent thread that can be pulled between everything so that we can say, yes, this is why, let’s just stop this one thing and…
So the problem of fear and the problem of the closet and the problem of being suddenly hurt or killed one day are all the same problem. How do you live your life in this country and feel like you’ll actually live? How do you act yourself?
Let me become specific.
As a bisexual cisgender woman from an upper-middle class background, I have a lot of privilege. I’m aware of this privilege and I’m aware that others do not have some or any of these privileges. Therefore I have thus far imagined that I’ll be fine. Finer than others. I will not go hungry, barring absolute catastrophe. I’ll be okay.
But it turns out, I’m not okay. Because wellbeing is not the sum of privileges and misery is not the division, subtracted, dispersion of them. We are not determined by what has power over us, or what attempts to exert power over us. We are affected by it – but we’re not determined by it.
I have been and am being determined largely by fear. For years now. I don’t really talk about who and how I am, I don’t like people to know. I hid and dissemble. This is healthy, to an extent, in a highly homophobic, highly misogynistic society. It is healthy to dissemble; and, in different circumstances, it is commanded – takiya in Shi’i thought.
And as I imagine my future, as Lovely and I plan the next 1, 5, 20 years together, as we imagine our child’s life and our work and our universe together, I become so afraid that it’s not a liveable life.
I wonder how many queer women of any kind of means have left the country.
I wonder how many queer women want to leave.
I don’t ever want to leave. I don’t know where I’d go. I’ve lived in the US and I can’t really stand it. I don’t know how the US feels free to people. It doesn’t feel free to me. Every moment in policed.
And then at home every moment is endangered. Is dangerous. Someone somewhere might say something.
But I have to live. We all have to live. So how do we live a life?
This is a queer problem. There’s no life if you’re hiding. Being smart, yes, strategic, yes, but hiding, no. Hiding no longer works. Or rather, pretending. Pretending that if I conform, behave, act like a proper citizen, a proper Pakistani woman, look enough like it, become a facsimile, it will be fine. They won’t notice. I’ll be able to slip by. I’ll survive.
This does not feel like survival. This feel like slow suffocation.
So no. We don’t do this anymore. I’m queer. I am a queer person. I do not fit. I will not fit.
And that is how I must live. Acknowledging that is what will make life liveable.
I wish you loved people who really listen to you. Listen to your silences as well as the things you said. Waited for you to come to it – whatever it is. Had the time, really, for you to be you. We’re not all the same speed. Thank God.
- Realize that your partner is not actually a cat, nor are you any kind of mouse-type person.
- Take no longer than 6 hours to realize also that, in fact, all that notion of partying while the cat/partner’s away is total bollocks because all you’re really going to do is more of what you already do while she’s at work, ie. sit around in your underpants eating mangoes and watching shows you’ve already seen.
- Start working 9 to 5, to the bafflement of yourself, your family, your friends and, most of all, your co-workers, who only expect you to come in when your livelihood or your favourite thing ever (this week) is under threat.
- Watch some more shows.
- Imagine how you will rearrange the furniture while you wait for a new episode of Castle or Vampire Diaries to buffer.
- Send your partner disgustingly googly email messages.
- Try to contact your partner, fail to connect, miss her call, call her back, miss her again, go to bed frustrated and with your eyes twitching from too much Vampire Diaries.
- Go to bed at midnight, that is. Not at 5a.m. like you used to when your partner was there sleeping consolingly next to you and you could get yelled at in the morning for fucking up your sleep cycle and managing to never spend more waking time than sleeping time together with her in any given day.
- Write really long convoluted sentences.
- Wake up at 8a.m. to drag your sorry, lonely, pointless ass to work so that you can feed your new and necessarily short-lived vanila-9-to-5-office-going fetish until you can’t stand your own pale tasteless waste of a life anymore.
Yes, I know she’ll be back in a week. Fuck off.
This is a crap culture to fall in love in. I kind of get why people will voluntarily go for arranged marriages. There’s no place anywhere to troll for potential mates. Gay men, you would think, have it easier, but actually, while gay men have a lot of places to find sex, there aren’t that many avenues for true love, or even true-enough love, in our culture. There is, however, a lot of fucking and running.
With straight people, there are more avenues – you can go out on dates and have relationships that are acceptable in culture. But even there, you have to fit a very narrow, tight definition of “girl” and “boy” to be successful, and that success tends to be outward more than inward. Macho guys and girlie girls. No variations allowed.
It’s luck and patience, finding a partner in love, and really hard work sticking together. And I think that’s true for gays, bis and straights – here anyway.
Polyamory is a difficult thing. It makes a sort of sense, in that it makes sense to me that it is possible to fall in love with multiple people. I have fallen in love with multiple people, but I can’t imagine being in multiple relationships.
My partner can, and is. And that can be hard. Because it’s all about balance.
I’m a jealous person. I can handle jealousy, within certain limits. She used to be a jealous person. She isn’t anymore. Which is to say, she has defeated jealousy almost completely. Not me. I can be jealous and then watch my jealousy and laugh at it. And then there’s a level of jealousy where I can be jealous, not see it and act really weird. And finally, there’s the jealousy that I can feel it, I can recognize but I cannot laugh off.
These days I’m oscillating between the funny jealousy and the gut removing jealousy. And the period of oscillation is quite short, making me really queasy through the whole process. What do you do when your tolerance is… no, actually, what do you do when your jealousy is really being held in by a well-used rubber band of tolerance, and sometimes it contracts and sometimes it expands, and you don’t know if you’re being squeezed or exploding?
We learn early that fidelity means monogamy, and it means particularly monogamy between married people, and it’s based on the stars-in-your-eyes love that you fall into when you’re young and that’s supposed to carry you through to old age when you’re toothless and adorable. It means that you’ll never look at another, or look and think, “Ah, well,” and smile fondly at your partner, and that’ll be that.
But that’s not fidelity. That’s monogamy and romance, and it’s a bit of a dream. Which is not to say that monogamous couples don’t live lives of fidelity among themselves. But the whole picture is one of those white lies you get told as a child, like Santa, except no one disabuses you of it when you’re older. No one says, yes, that would be nice, but there’s a lot of cheating going on in the most peaceful-seeming marriages, and there’s a lot of lying, and spouses fart a great deal and sometimes, just sometimes, you get so annoyed with how your spouse pick his teeth or how she hums her songs that, for a split second, you do contemplate blunt-instrument murder.
Fidelity is this: I love you how you are. And I will stay with you for the rest of life, provided you stay honest with me, and I stay honest with you, and you tell me when you hate this, and I tell you when I hate this. And you don’t hurt me on purpose and you’re sorry when you hurt me on accident. And I don’t hurt you on purpose and I’m sorry when I do it on accident. You are first in my heart. And everything else is window-dressing, or negotiation, or outside expectations, or somewhat painful each-other-discovery.
Fidelity is that I chose you because of who you are as whole and who you might be, and no your happiness is first in my heart.
I’ll make this short because, well, it gets heavily on my nerves – I’ve discovered, being a part of a queer group for a couple of years now, that being bisexual is a very, very problematic thing in gay and lesbian eyes.
For lesbians, bi girls are those who can run back to men and who will eventually choose men. I’ve mentioned before how Lovely got told repeatedly when she was getting together with me that my being bi means that I will eventually leave her for a man, and therefore there’s no profit in being with me.
Moreover, if you’re a bi woman in a queer group and you’re with a woman, you are functionally lesbian so that’s okay. You can talk about your bi-ness and everyone will make a big joke about it, but basically, it’s okay, you haven’t strayed. But if somehow you accidentally fall for a man and are in a relationship with him, suddenly it’s not funny anymore. A bi woman in a relationship with a man is straight (and dead) to lesbians.
What I’ve found more interesting recently is that bi men are also disregarded by gay men, but not for being traitors ore foreign agents. It’s more that gay men think men can’t actually be bi. Oh, you can get a gay man to say that, of course, men are bi and bisexuality exists, all that jazz; but in gossip or chat mode, when it comes up that a man says he’s bi, the answer goes something like: “Him? He’s a pakki khusri! He’s just saying he’s bi because, trust me, I’ve seen millions like him, he’s not just gay, he’s a bottom!”
There’s a such a deep investment in being gay or lesbian, and asserting that it’s a valid life, a natural orientation and all that, that bisexuality seems to challenge that deeply. And boy, that gets on my tits.
Because, yes, it’s easy to pass in a straight society if you’re bi. Yes, it makes it easy to live in society if you’re in a straight relationship. But, no, a bi person in a straight relationship is not straight suddenly! And to be bi in a straight society is like being any kind of queer in a straight society: you can’t talk about a large part of who you are, you have to be cautious, you have to be suppress yourself. Which is the universal queer condition in a heternormative world.
Real Queer is Queer that acknowledge that a heteronormative world is oppressive and terrible for all forms of queerness. Real Queer is Queer that loves outside of the heteronorm, regardless of orientation!