A Gay of No Importance

It has been an audacious and difficult decision for me to finally come out and accept my gaiety. Coming out has seemed like deliverance from my every sin, for which I will be pardoned and will start living happily hereafter.

But I forgot that life isn’t a fairy tale with a King Midas with a golden touch or a magical kiss which can transform a toad into a handsome prince. I used to think that my perennial tears for being unaccepted and unloved would be gone as my queer folks will take me in with arms wide open. But it turned out to be a different story. I was unaware that my gaiety has to go through a lot of litmus tests before I could be certified as an Authentically Valid Gay.

As soon as I sorted out all my confusions and apprehensions regarding my orientation, I started hanging out with queer folk, especially gay men. In the beginning it was a full throttle exciting and emancipating experience, because without being fake, I could talk, walk and behave the way I wanted. But slowly and gradually, as I learned more about my community, I realized that the dynamics of gay culture are making me an outcast within an outcast group.

Being brought up in a traditional middle class Pakistani family, religion has always been very important for me. That’s why I searched extensively for alternative approaches regarding sexual minorities in Islam, and began to reconcile between my religious and sexual identities. I realized that my gayness is hard-wired into my personality. It can’t be changed and why should it be changed? It’s a manifestation of my Allah’s diversity, rather than a moral failing.

I have always envisioned a life of love, intimacy and commitment in the context of a religiously alive traditional Muslim community. But the first criticism I heard from my queer folks was that I was gay and still Muslim, and homosexuality is against Islam. The question would have carried different connotations and I might have addressed it differently if my detractors had been straight; but it sounded really odd and obnoxious that gay Muslim men were not only continuously nagging me over it without having any sound academic Islamic knowledge but were also abusing other gay men and claiming severe damnation for them. It was completely out of my comprehension: why should I take this crap form sexually active gay men who, after a quick shag, try to guilt you about how wrong you are to be gay! One incident I can never forget in which a bearded guy, in an fervent effort to save me from hellfire, told me gays should get capital punishment and are severely damned by God – he himself is a sexually active gay man. I definitely deserve hellfire because I can never be this hypocritical, condescending and absurd.

Several times I have been confronted over the gay sexual roles. Whenever my folks asked me, “So what you are, top or bottom?” I have always replied that I am neither. But they refuse to accept it at first and later look at me with such suspicion that I feel myself naked or alien. But believe me: I am neither, I feel neither way. I am politically and temperamentally against this dichotomy. For me it’s just like mimicking the sexual politics of heteronormative society which puts men in the powerful position of having the right to penetrate and women in a passive role, available for penetration.

I can’t find the logic of replicating this template for developing relationships in a gay context. It’s so paradoxical that at one side we are rebelling against the gender roles conceived by a patriarchal society but on the other we are still conforming to them. I have faced a lot of spoken and unspoken pressure from my queer peers to conform to a role, any role, and work accordingly or otherwise I will not be able to find a guy. At times, it’s so distressing that I can’t muster up courage enough to raise my voice among the highly eloquent and enlightened queer fellows.

Moreover, I am neither as loud as a bottom nor as straight-acting as a top. I don’t even like the idea of being versatile, versatile top or versatile bottom. Can’t I be just a gay and gay only without being anything else? Once I was hanging out with a very dear gay friend of mine and in the moment, I laughingly propositioned him. Firstly he started laughing as well, but when I sounded serious to him, he said “You know Hadi, you are a really nice guy, but you see I like straight men and you have few feminine characteristics so I just can’t be with you.” Honestly, I didn’t like his reply, not because I was dying to get into his pants but because of the way he disapproved of me. Every day we are discriminated against and ridiculed by straight men, and still we are dying to sleep with them. We might as well accept the bitter reality that the majority of gay men do have a preference for straight men because we are the perpetrators as well as the victims of internalized homophobia.

I am also an over-weight gay guy who has to listen repeatedly to, “Jani, go to gym and lose some weight. It will increase your USP (Unique Selling Point).” I don’t know why gay men are so obsessed about looking good. They want you to be either a twink or a beefed up guy, otherwise you are not eligible for the ding dong! I am neither and I defy being either, and that’s why I’m a loser (as my folks call me).

I question that if I am an overweight Muslim gay guy who doesn’t believe in the dichotomy of gay sexual politics, then does this make me a lesser gay? Am I a mortifying blemish on my community which needs to be ignored or, better, cut off? How can we, staunch believers of the idea of diversity in nature, be so bigoted about the diversity within our own kind? While rebelling against the heteronormativity, don’t you think we are creating a homonormativity of its own kind, which is usurping the expression of many fellow queers? Let me tell you that I am not going to be intimidated or hopeless and I refuse to be a gay pariah. I may be a gay of no importance but at least I know who to be: ME.


10 Replies to “A Gay of No Importance”

  1. As someone who could conceivably be considered a “social conservative” in the context of LGBT culture, I’m pretty much an outcast myself (though a lesbian, not a gay male), so I sympathize very much with your story.

    I’m pro-marriage, pro-monogamy, pro-family, pro-children, anti-porn, anti-bdsm, and pretty respectful both of spiritual traditions as well as secular philosophers who argue that it’s important to civilize/refine the passions and engage in what might be termed the “therapy of desire”. I’m an assimilationist queer and a moral conservative, and proud of it. To me there’s no contradiction there. Unfortunately, it’s pretty isolating to take these positions, as they leave me rejected by both queer culture and mainstream heterosexual culture. C’est la vie.

    Maybe we should just start our own LGBT subculture that seeks to encourage a moral and disciplined life and rejects the vapid hedonism and materialism of mainstream queer culture, while at the same time rejecting the sexism, homophobia and transphobia of mainstream heterosexual culture as well.

  2. Well said, eloquently put and very moving !!!

    For people conflicted between faith, family and sexuality, at times it seems there might be no viable alternative. Whereas the faith as interpreted and family rejects the person’s inner constitution, the queer spaces usually available might not be ideal for such a person.

    Every individual deserves unconditional love from parents, a love that will keep that person strong through the rise and falls of life. It is that love that protects one from despair and making horrible choices.

    I very strongly believe that Muslim queer spaces need to forge their own path as opposed to mimicking the spaces created in a different cultural milieu. We have our own stories, our own way of life, our own hopes and aspirations that all need a very different avenue to be expressed.

    Let haya, ubudiyat, adab and other mashriqi values guide Muslim queer spaces…

  3. I do understand you and your article urges me to give you a big hug. I am ‘bi’ and practising muslim but I even my other ‘bi’ friend doesn’t accept it. She sees me as a straight who wanted to wander on the other side. I only believe in love, that unconditional feeling that does not embody itself in a gender in my case. I hope that with time you’ll feel happy to be an outcast.

  4. I have a few “queer” friends of my own, though I myself am straight. And having a chat with one of them one day I realised that our community – in some circles, is quite forgiving. However, on the other extreme its quite ruthless towards this issue.

    I am a journalist and a documentary maker and I would like to make a film on the complex subject of being gay in a Muslim Pakistan (as a start, of course the problems listed in the above piece go far beyond simple religion vs sexuality debate).

    If any of you wish to share stories in this regard, i would like to hear. You can email me at [email protected]

  5. Brilliant article! It’s like reading my own thoughts. However, we need to be careful…

    Its not every day I come across people who dare to write about what they are going through while being in this pink world. Great Article Hadi i must say.. I share several of your views regarding the homophobic behavior of pink community itself and been writing about it. Being a queer guy myself I an tell, We talk about emancipation but I guess most of us are still confined in the typical phobia of proving ourselves above all this by segregations in queer community..

    However, I also have certain reservations regarding putting our voice out there.. Though I myself do it (guilty) but i think hetero (religious or less religious-yet-so-called-moral) pakistani world has turned blind eye at us because we keep it down.. by bring it up infront of everyone will create problems only for our own community.. and might end up endangering our lives. See 5 years back gandu was more like a casual curse used in schools and colleges, but today after watching karan johar’s work and dramas like brothers and sisters, people (of every age) has started questioning people ‘are you gay?’.. Now parents have started asking this question to their kids if they are not committing for marriage (me being a major example).. so what I say is to have lesser problems in our lives.. we need to keep ourselves a little low profile.. because we cannot fight the religious views and Pakistani constitution ( since it is based upon ideology of our religion) and because we are not a secular country like India..

    peace

    your unknown closeted fellow

  6. beautifully expressed experiences of hypocrisy, fear and oppression that are, clearly, the human condition. i see what you’re describing not just in the queer community but anywhere my individuality fights the current to define its voice: cultural/national spaces, religion, politics, gender roles, activist circles. people don’t see how often their rejection/resistance of the status quo simply reinforces it. i laud you for navigating these spaces and finding the strength to be true to yourself, despite the pressures, the pain and the human desire for community and acceptance.

    in that same vein, i ask Closeted not to encourage closetedness. i respect your choice and you are entitled to it, but i disagree with your view that “we should be careful.” i salute all those who have the courage and integrity to be open, honest and raise awareness. a social order in which you are only safe if you are invisible is not worth preserving, whether you are gay, christian, woman, atheist. this tyranny needs to be eradicated, and yes it’s dangerous and horribly uncomfortable, but we absolutely can and will take on the establishment. so no, you do not need to keep a low profile – bring it on!

  7. I too find it odd that many of my Muslim gay friends or Muslim gays that I have found online have turned to Atheism. While it is a completely personal decision and I don’t try to convert them, I find them often converting me and asking me why do I follow a religion who’s followers condemn who I am and what I feel. Faith is a very personal matter and though at times I feel “Faithless” myself I can’t desert my beliefs.

    @ Hadi;

    Ur work are brilliant and I would love to read more from you!!

  8. I am a white male looking at this issue from another perspective. I’m looking at the lived life of gay men with type 2 diabetes. Obviously diabetes effects the bodies of straight and gay the same but how it is managed varies.
    In my mind I reflect on ‘club gay’ and wonder if not fitting in, effects the outcomes of diabetes management. Research tells us that our health can improve if we engage in the gay community ie better mental health and taking less at risk behaviours.
    In my study only white gay men have completed my survey – I would encourage all men of different religions, race etc to complete this survey.
    For further details refer to refer to:
    https://www.facebook.com/Research-Gay-men-and-Type-2-Diabetes-873149149391538/
    Or email Edwin on [email protected]
    Direct link to study:
    https://vuau.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1Y6w3jJ51TF7DC
    Article
    http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/checkup/health-news/gay-men-wanted-for-study-on-type-2-diabetes-19943.html
    The survey is completely anonymous

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