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.
My friend Hadi has been blogging like a fiend recently and he’s been talking about it ad nauseum – how everyone loves his love stories but no one’s so much interested in his intellectual ramblings. Ab kon usko bataye that we all feel that way! :)
So I’m jealous. And I thought, let’s see if we can get back to this blogging thing.
Firstly, thanks everyone for the kind words and concern about my disappearance. I have no been eaten up by the grate monster of Paki homophobia. I’ve just gotten involved in a bunch of stuff and it became difficult, after a time, to figure out what to say. Sometimes there’s so much going on that to write about it is to go through it again and, for a while, there weren’t enough hours in the day.
There’s been some activism – a collection of queers, some research, some strategizing about what to do. Can we have a queer rights agenda in this country? What does it look like – a pride march? – lobbying the state? – community building? It seems that in the past couple of years a few initiatives have sprung up that are dealing with all this stuff. There is Pakistan Queer Movement, and an organization called O – these are LGBT initiatives. Then there is a transgender-based initiative called GIA – Gender Interactive Alliance. It’s interesting to see this sudden awakening. I wonder what caused it – some sociologist would know what kind of critical mass makes these things pop up. Anyway –
Having taken part in some of this gatting togather, I have thoughts. I will now post them.
When I was 15 or 16 years old, I had a falling-apart relationship with a boy who wasn’t at my school, a really close best friend whom I adored, a crush on another boy who’s now a good friend, and a (now very occasional) sex-buddy who was a girl.
Quite possibly at this time it was a toss-up who was more important to me – my boyfriend or this best friend of mine. He was waning and she was waxing, and I definitely worshipped at the altar of her. Still do, to some extent.
She was utterly straight and very homophobic. (She’s stopped with the homophobia now.) She used to say that these two sisters who were a year behind us were fans of my various studenty activity because at least one was a total lesbian. She had a crush on me like I wouldn’t believe, said my best friend. I said, heh, um, heh, no, why would she even know she’s, i mean, it’s scary IimagineIdon’treallyknow you know to say um heh really?
At school, there was also a couple, classic butch-femme dichotomy, who flaunted their lesbianness and didn’t give a fuck about anyone. Someone said (I think it was Boy I had Crush On) that they’d ben seen in the back, making out; and someone else said they’d been seen having sex; and someone else said; and someone else said.
I talked such trash about those girls. I would roll my eyes along with everyone else, laugh at all the disgusting jokes, the whole nine yards. My heart slammed in my chest every time they came up in conversation, or walked by when we were all sitting together.
It’s no fun pretending you’re not something you are, and it makes you act like an abominable shithead.
Lovely and I have been together for over a year and a half now. Our lives are great, ma sha Allah. We have our own place, we have our friends that we are out to, we have family support – hers more supporting than mine, oddly enough (probably the baptism of fire thing). We’re both working and making some money, we’re both saving and buidling our lives. We have a tv where we watch the horrible news of our lives; we have warm blankets to sleep under; we have a housemate who adores us and whom we adore. Her family sends over food regularly, since they nearby. Life is good, alhamdu lillah.
So we’re starting to organize around queer issus. Right now, we’ve set up a semi monthly meeting of queer folk. We had our first one last week and it went oddly, but well, I think. The next one is middle of next week.
It’s scary. You don’t know who all the people are and you don’t know who to trust. And they don’t know if they can trust you. That’s probably our greatest asset, in the end – mutual distrust.
I don’t know what we’re building, but we’re building.
I’m a big fan of full disclosure. And honesty. I think honesty is great, particularly when your loved ones are involved.
However, I’m also becoming a fan of the doctrine of need-to-know. For example, does a parent need to know that the child’s first kiss was in the pre-teen years? Not from the child’s perspective, no. Does a lover need to know that, far back, before history was invented, you slept with six people at a time, and liked it? No. Why? Because it makes your tummy rumble in a bad way and causes incontinence and lack of sleep.
I was going to fess up my relationship with Lovely to my beloved parent. The one that doesn’t know. And then, in the presence, as it were, I realized: the ways in which said parent does not need to know this! I mean, the ways! And I don’t need the pain and aggravation of arguing daily, weekly, monthly about what a terrible idea it is, how bisexual meant MAN, dammit! and all that stuff.
So I’ve decided, for now, that no one else needs to know. And after five days of insomnia, depression, crying fits and general pissing my pants, last night I slept like a baby cradled in the arms of this decision. Today I jaunted merrily with the parent. Tomorrow, we’ll talk philosophy. And if it ever becomes necessary to fess up, I shall. But not out of some random adherence to the integrity of the relationship. Not torturing the parent with things that the parent cannot control is also chock full of integrity.
You are not – you were never – broken. That someone came and bent you at the soft places means that someone found your soft places. I have seen the skin where it’s not broken. I have seen the scar not made. You who cannot reach those parts feel welts where there is only purple. Pretty purple. Now that it’s gone. You were never broken, love. You stretched yourself straight and tall and beautiful and, maybe you didn’t notice, you’ve been walking on.
Once again, it’s been nearly a month since I’ve written anything. Last time I wrote, it was about feeling like a crappy partner because I like to be alone sometimes, or because I just feel like a crappy partner. Now, I’m feeling very homesick and horrendous, so there is more whining afoot. Consider yourself warned.
I’m finding it difficult, also, to deal with negative feedback I get on this blog. There isn’t much. And it’s not overt. But there is the questioning of my life and decisions, occasionally, that makes me uncomfortable. Not because the questions shouldn’t arise, but because sometimes I wonder if I’m cut out for answering those questions. Questions such as
- why are you whining about a relationship when you went through so much to get it, and so did she?
- how i read it: you broke up a het marriage, you ingrate, how dare you be anything but blissful after doing something so despicable.
This reading is my problem. It’s not what is said that I’m quarreling with here. It’s how I’m reading it. I must still feel guilty. Even though I haven’t go reason to, intellectually. I have no reason to because you can’t break up a marriage you’re not in. Lovely did that. Lovely wanted to do that.
But I feel the need to make a public defense of it because this is Pakistan and in Pakistan women should’t end marriages. Women should be grateful that someone married them in the first place.
That is also subtext. I live a very privileged life. I’m out to my friends. I’m comfortable in my sexuality. God is kind to me. In my life, there is no overt demand on me for a) marriage to a man, b) gratitude for the attentions of a man, or c) harassment on becoming an ‘old maid’ no one will marry. But my father wants grandchildren and a straight daughter from which they issue, and my partner’s family wants her not to live like a married person with another woman. If she does, she’ll bring shame. No one will marry her siblings. We’ll be stoned to death. Ad nauseum. Ad infinitum. Soon my father will add to this a mix of difficulties that I can’t even predict yet. And I’m afraid of that. So, by extension, every bit of feedback that isn’t utterly supportive and woman-loving flowery yayful stuff makes me feel like dying.
That is entirely my problem. But I wish there was a way to get past it with other people. I mean, other than just me and Lovely and this blog. I wish there was some way to form a community around it so it didn’t just always feel like the hysterical edge of an abyss of badness.
There. Enough whine for you?
The purpose of this blog has been to out some struggles without outing me in a context where me being too out will not benefit me even a little. Outing the struggles serves only one purpose – finding people to engage them and so, make it easier for gay people to be gay in Pakistan.