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.