A Cry in the Wilderness: Male Homosexuality in Pakistan

Prolific Brazilian writer, Paulo Coelho, once wrote, “Human beings can withstand a week without water, two weeks without food, many years of homelessness, but not loneliness. It is the worst of all tortures, the worst of all sufferings.” If there is something like ‘the biggest truth of life’ than this thought is it. It’s written in the human template that we are social creatures who cannot stand loneliness and alienation. We formulate societies and develop relationships just to satiate our basic instinctual drive to socialize and bond. That’s why we want to be loved, cared and consoled as we are emotional beings with hearts that feel and minds that imagine. Therefore, relationships either the ones we are born with or the ones we choose to develop and further extend, are crucial for the proper development of one’s personality.

Although life isn’t easy for anyone and everyone has to bear his or her share of toils and good tidings, it’s incredibly difficult for homosexuals to express their romantic and sexual preferences because they are regarded as mere filthy perverted souls who are doomed to end up in hell. Torn between the social pressures and religious dogmas, most of them remain conflicted and never reconcile with their true nature and self. Due to this discrimination and stigmatization, there many instances of excommunication, verbal threats, bullying, physical abuse and even suicide in this vulnerable minority.

In Pakistan, homosexuality is regarded as a taboo issue and people generally avoid talking about it. But if someone dares to talk about it, he is targeted as a pervert himself who is intoxicating the impressionable virgin minds of the common man. No one seems seriously interested in addressing and discussing the issue. Religious scholars either pronounce capital punishment for homosexuals or lifetime celibacy. Psychiatrists and medical practitioners, who otherwise blindly approve of every single western piece of information or research in their field, have serious doubts regarding the authenticity of evidences declaring homosexuality a natural phenomenon and not a disorder or disease. Social workers and civil society are busy raising slogans for judges, women’s and children’s rights while completely over looking this issue.

For the most part, people disregard homosexuality as immoral while completely ignoring the suffering and pain of homosexuals, who are denied their basic human rights to affectionate relationships because the heteronormative majority disapproves of such relations. Society accepts them so long as they are marrying, procreating and fulfilling the responsibilities of their families; after that they are free to do whatever they want.  But leading this dual life is hardly a solution and it’s high time that we addressed this issue and tried to develop an alternative framework as traditional Judaism and Christianity have done. Therefore, Muslim societies need to seek alternative interpretations of scriptures and available scientific research evidences to develop a rational and considerate stance regarding homosexuality.

As far as scientific front is concerned, in 1999 a constellation of prestigious organizations – the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers and National Education Association – jointly issued a document entitled, “Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation,” which clearly stated that homosexuality is not a matter of choice and it cannot be changed. But such research evidences seems to fall on deaf ears as in developing countries like Pakistan, homosexuals are still ridiculed and discriminated against, with a complete absence of any religious, social or legal protection and support.

Arguments for the innateness of homosexuality may even be deduced from the verse 30:22 of the Qur’an put forward by famous Canadian journalist and intellectual Irshad Manji, who stated that God made nothing in vain. She questioned that if God has created diversity in nature, personality, color and race of human beings than how can He simply have discarded sexual orientation? As the verse states:

And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned.

Renowned American scholar Scott Siraj ul Haqq Kugle had pointed out that the Qur’an certainly implies that some people are different in their sexual desires than others when it mentions “men who are not in need of women” (Verse 24:30). The reason for no sexual desire can be due to old age, illness or self-control that involves an inner disposition that could be characterized as “asexual” or due to different sexual orientation. This suggestion from Qur’an is suggestive not indicative.

Homosexual behavior is natural in the sense that it is extensively found in nature. It has been observed in antelopes, boars, bulls, chimpanzees, cows, ducks, cats, dogs, fruit flies, geese, gorillas, gulls, horses, humans, langurs, rams, sheep, macaques, monkeys, turkeys and vervets. Bruce Bagemihl, a biologist from Seattle, Washington, USA, has even prepared an encyclopedia of homosexual and transgender behavior among animals which lists more than 190 species, including butterflies and other insects.

One can then make the argument that if homosexuality is an unnatural perversion how come the Almighty created gay animals, who certainly do not exercise a choice in the matter? Thus, if God has created various varieties of fruits, exotic types of species, different kinds of human beings, each with separate physical, mental and emotional attributes, then how is it possible that the Almighty overlooked sexuality, which is one of the essential components of a human being?

Sexual diversity can also be understood in terms of personality types. For instance, there are some people who are born extroverts and some are introverts by their natural inclination. It is neither possible nor does it seem to be the purpose of God to artificially change the personalities of human beings as they are operating in accordance to their innate predispositions. Therefore, this diversity in human personality is God’s will and we should respect it instead of damaging it with our self-centered views. One can only come up with the best of his/her potential if one is given enough space to act in accordance with what one actually is.

Hence, it will be a great contribution towards society if everyone starts understanding and giving respect to the human dignity and personhood of sexual minorities. As the writer Pamela Taylor put it, “The Prophet said we are not true believers until we want for our brothers and sisters what we want for ourselves. I want a satisfying, committed, loving relationship with my spouse. How could I want to deny that to anyone?”

Promised Lands

Unblinking like the dead
goldfish floating
He stands staring
with his one good eye
at the neighbours
their bathroom window.
Tied up, mouths stuffed
his envy turning
into a slow concern
The thieves are having
fried eggs for breakfast
on the patio. Three
Young boys with
happy eyes thinking
already about the
latest Nokia
the electric bill
imported pampers
for the new baby.

Of Sex, Love and …

This evening I thought I would take stock. With markets crashing all around me, and people intent on scaling back their financial portfolios, I thought that I might participate in the only similar way I could, not by reassessing monetary investments, rather it would have to be my time investments, which never really pay off the way you like, you know…boys.

It had been over six months since Bjorn and I had officially ended our relationship. My momentary insanity induced desire for another man had been the catalyst and having been left little recourse for reconciliation (a continent stood between us) I decided to take up arms against myself in the same way all good self-loathing break-up artists do, and go, not on the rebound, but on the hunt, like I had been placed in a vast field of lame walking breakfast specials after starving for years.

Being an open-minded sort of person, most all discretion was put on the back burner as I re-enacted, as I realize now, the same pattern of behaviour that had emerged once before with me, after the break up with my first real boyfriend, Dan.

Dan and I being finished was somehow “carte blanche to fuck” in everyone’s eyes, and since I was in high school, there were a lot of generous college boys willing to be there for me. How sweet. In retrospect I believe that I was just looking for an excuse to get drunk and laid in the bathrooms of houses I didn’t know because a good sort of girl of relatively benign repute couldn’t really get away with that sort of stuff in my small hometown unless she wanted to come under the harsh scrutiny of other ladies, and hooooooboy can they be unforgiving.

I reminisce with profound nostalgia about those times. Having been oversaturated with Tom Robbins by that point I quickly explained my hormonal activity as “feeling power of woman”, to devour sexually, with pure reckless abandon. The kind that included car hoods, driveways, bathrooms, car seats, bunk beds, antique couches and sketchy apartments.

Sigh, the good old days.

I really regret nothing of that time since what stands out to me is not the memory of a broken heart and a desperate search to help heal it, rather I remember discovering, quite happily, that really good sex existed.

Before Dan I had slept with only one other person, Rob, who was also a virgin. How stereotypically cute, no? He was a few years older, he took me to his prom and only after staying up until 8 am drinking cheap Baby Duck champagne all over the city and getting into mischief did we finally first have sex. Terrible, terrible sex. But what did I know? I was a virgin. So, when Dan came along, and the sex was ever so slightly better, I thought I had found my soul mate and, formerly an atheist myself, was suddenly willing to spend obscene amounts of time practicing Buddhism with him (his family’s chosen religion).

I think I had been expecting the same sort of sexual re-awakening this time with my break-up with Bjorn, and unfortunately you can’t learn to be sexually free twice, the second time, you learn that you are an irrational emotional being, and without having noticed it you’ve become attached, in love and fundamentally soulfully entwined with someone you thought was just a good lay and pleasant company.

I feel bad for the fist guy I tried to sleep with after Bjorn. A few glasses of wine and blasting Peaches explicit lyrics was not enough to get over the fact that this body was different, this body was not Bjorn’s, and was therefore a stranger and therefore…terrifying? As the moment of truth approached I grabbed my clothes and ran out, not even able to make up an excuse.


And so went the discovery that my inner slut had disappeared, had been stolen in the night and replaced with some forlorn overly romantic idealistic little girl. Later I was lamenting this to my friend Jared (incidentally the man who had stolen my attention from Bjorn) and he told me that I had to re-mythologize myself. I was now a woman of emotional depth, not bawdy provocation. It sounded nice so I thought I’d go along with it and decided that I would seriously mature and become a 2nd date lay.

So, now that sex was off-limits to me without a “connection” I had to make due with low level messing around, so a lot of making out and a little head here and there.

There was Mark, who I had an excuse to stay away from as my friend had already put her “crush dibs” on him, though the moment she had moved on, I found myself guilt-free sticking my tongue in his mouth and letting him stick his in me.

There was Robert, the scientist, who tried to woo me with date conversation about fish dissection. We spooned a lot and watched Planet Earth. We made out a lot until one session where he pulled back, looked me deep in the eyes and recommended a moisturizing routine.

There was a minor flirtation with Ben, but he had a girlfriend.

Then, I thought I had found a new love and there was a serious sharing of hearts and minds over post mail with Jared, who was in Europe at the time.


***Brief interlude where Bjorn comes to visit and we try to work things out, but I am completely unreceptive as I am mad about some drama from a few months earlier and starting to get excited about slowly re-discovering my sexual prowess.***


Jared came back to Canada from Europe to go on a road trip home with me for the holidays. This has been my beacon of hope for some time. Jared will be a man, he will set things straight and we will be able to go one from there as a newer and better happy couple. A few hours later, lying in bed at By the Bay Cabins, I am wracking my mind over and over to try and figure our what the hell I’d been thinking all this time!

Worst sex ever.

And I mean the goddamn worst!

Not only does he have some over humpy aggressive monster in him, but his dick was too small to measure up to the bravado, so a question of time was also on the shelf, because although for a brief moment I thought that I might be able to work with him, teach him… it was over and I was hurled in to a den of misery and shock at the fact that I had turned Bjorn away for this. I was completely disgusted with myself.

Ever since it’s been an endless search for new meaning in music and partners.

There has been Gesar, the over praised Buddhist leader with the dick that makes all Asian jokes true, three ex-boyfriends, two who have proven they still can’t give head and one who has proven to have the most beautiful cock I’ve ever seen, and why didn’t I realize that when I was eighteen?

There have been several musicians from bands I could brag about, randoms in the bathroom and artists who live in their parent’s basements.

The only thing I think I’ve been able to further learn from all of these new and finally repetitive sexual forays in to the promiscuous adult world, is to learn to love the one you’re with. Of course, in cheesy fashion that means you.

Number Ek Sau Chawalees

This is my monologue about a two way street which, by tradition is supposed to combine somewhere down the line into one warm fuzzy blurry road. Well, in my case, the two way street has always led to two different places. One of those roads inevitably leads to me, single, frazzled and free.

Or another analogy that I felt rather fitting, keeping in mind one of my relationships, its like watching an HD screen with bold beautiful colours, great definition and a great surround sound, slowly become duller, the sound murkier and eventually all you are left with is white noise and really tired eyes and ears.

Oh and I do not know how it gets to that point! I do not even pretend to untangle that mess. It has become this great hard sticky furball that once began with a simple knot and a few strings attached.

From Jaani, I miss you already to Jaani, let’s cuddle and not talk to Jaani, we need to talk: who needs that transition? Alas. Most of us do. As far as I can tell, one in every two girls needs to, has to, dies to be in a relationship. And that ladies and gentleman is what sinks the ship of straight, successful, single womenkind.

I think it’s indoctrinated in us from childbirth. Or inoculated, right along rubella, measles and mumps: the man shot.

Every now and then we get the booster shots: boyfriend, boyfriend, crush, lust, boyfriend, fiancé, boyfriend, husband, boyfriend. No one ever thinks of boosting our immune system against the institution of chronic togetherness.

I don’t propagate celibacy or isolation: I just think that we should think more often. If men are accused of navigating life using a sex-radar, it is only fair if women acknowledge that they have similar radars: the potential-couple-detector

What is the harm in wanting to be with someone, to want to not be alone? I am asked this question from those who are married, those about to dive into that pool or those who are simply looking for an occupant for their pink bubble. I always answer that there is no harm in wanting anything. It is the steps that we take to get what we want and that spiralling of desire into desperate need that is injurious to health. More carcinogenic than a pack everyday!

The lesson I have learnt from my limited experiences: appreciate the flora and fauna that only a single person can truly enjoy. Spend sometime smelling the roses, and not nurturing the pot! And then step towards another flower, smell that and so on. Get high on all the variety. Go through the gardens and the forests, appreciating but growing yourself as an individual. When you have absorbed what is out there, and spent enough time nurturing yourself, then you might have a fair chance at an equitable relationship that can be sustained.

I have three different sets of friends. Other than three who are married, everyone else is single. And everyone finds it very strange that they are in this “predicament”. I think it’s because as mentioned earlier, when you are given the man shot on a regular basis, to see that it does not work as effectively when there are no tailor made men around is albeit confusing. They promised us that finding the right man and settling down will be as easy as you see in the movies. Those who bought that line are now bitter and almost defiant in their singledom.

This piece of writing does sound like it could be shoved on a Self Help section in a book shop. That is not the intent. My randomly stringed thoughts should not be taken as the last word on the topic, or the starting point towards any success.

Look at it as just one female sharing some experience with other people. With the hope that we stop institutionalising all human interactions in the same fashion that Europe did with all independent thinkers, eccentric people and mildly disturbed people in the middle ages. Shoving every thing into neatly outlined categories defies the very purpose of human experience. There is no sequence to putting your life into order, certainly not your love life.

So, I say, spin the bottle. Watch where it stops and take it from there. Instead of a boy, it might land on a book. Finishing it cover to cover is immensely more pleasurable than going through a man end to end! The book will not crumble to pieces if you reach for it again and again.


Image c/o David Ritter

Her face was smarting from the slap. But as soon as palm had landed on cheek and humiliation set in, bitter rebellion was set into motion. Ivana received many slaps in the course of each day. Every day since she was 3 and on special occasion perhaps a few more. So instead of gulping down her shock and maybe even crying she would put her best cheek forward and close her eyes. And when that was over she would stare at the floor till the ranting and raving blew over and she heard the word, ‘Hopeless!’

That was the signal to sit put for 5 minutes and then get up and go to her room.

Ivana relied on signals. On chatter and hands and nods and laughter to let her know what was going to happen when the air got heavy. Her predicted anticipation was fine tuned to a point that it was nothing short of a skill. When Ivana was 9 and 3 months she walked into her parent’s room late at night. She’d had a nightmare.

It was very dark. She heard some noises but she couldn’t really make out much. So she stood and listened. There were heavy stunted breaths, a slight thumping, and some odd sounds and although she wasn’t really quite sure about it she wanted to turn around and go back to her bed.

But she didn’t move. It was too dark and she’d probably miss the fifth floorboard and there would be a loud creak. They would hear…and she didn’t want a slap, not now.

So she stood with her hands on her ears by the wall and stared at the pattern of the wood near her feet. When she finally pried her hands off her ears she realized that it was completely and totally quiet. Ringing silence disconcerted her. It disarmed her ability to prepare and to see. They were asleep. She could go back now.

Tracing the embossed swirls in the wallpaper, she dodged the floorboard and made it back.

Her parents were sat on her bed, silently stunned.

“Ivana…come here.”

She couldn’t quite understand what she had done, but her heart beat so hard her chest hurt.

There were a few times that they’d taken her to the fairground and save for those few times she almost never heard in that tone, those words.

She took 9 full steps in the direction of her bed and clutched the lace that spilt over it. It was her mother that spoke first. She was crying. Her voice was muted and shook with the same sickly doom that wafted through the room.

“Ivana, sweetheart, come here and sit down next to me”.

She could hear her father pacing. Every single step he ever took struck terror in her heart. Always. A silent indiscernible terror that never reached her face.

She sat down.

Lace crumpled in her little fist.

Her father left the room. His departure bore a resonance larger tonight than ever before.

“Sweetheart, I’m going to ask you something now ok? Don’t you worry about a thing, ok? “


“Ok now Ivana I just want you to tell mommy the truth. Has daddy …”

More escaped sobs.

Ivana’s heart beat so hard now she thought she might die. The lace was damp.

They didn’t often ask her opinion on things. Let alone about each other.

“Sweetie does daddy come to your room sometimes at night, you know just to talk and kiss you goodnight?”

He did.

He would. Sometimes. He would come in and she would hear the door open slowly. It would always creak just when the door knob was turned then it stayed quiet. Just standing there, a stern observer.

It was never the bed that he sat on. He always kneeled on the floor so that his head and hers were at the same height. Almost always, she was awake and acting marvelously.

“Uhuh sometimes.”

Her mother is clutching her so hard that now, all Ivana can think of was how to catch her next breath without shirking her off. It was a rare occurrence, this clutching.

He would ask her if she was asleep in a gentle voice. Almost always at this point her performance would gain momentum and she’d try to feign a gradual wakening.

Most recently he had knelt and spoken of how he wished things were different. How he wished things weren’t so difficult. It was hard to focus when she was trying so hard to look comatose.

“Sweetie, tell mommy… does daddy ever say or do anything, anything at all honey, that you don’t like?  Just tell mommy Ivana.”

There is finally a breeze in the room. The front door has been opened. He mother is breathing so hard Ivana’s hair keeps tickling her eyelids and she cant move it because her arms are in a clutch.

The House Yawned

a creamy white yawn
of the unsuspcting
woke up
The bill boards
blocking the façade
peeled away
like an onion skin.
Just a tenth of
opaqueness between
you and the world
of the mall road
dear house
Where millions
of humming
cancerous cars
We played together
Hide and seek in
your calm
cobwebbed corridors
eighty green years ago.
Now memory is a rusty key
To what
I know not.
Nothing on the other side.
We are but scattered seeds
Unhappening to happen again.
My grandchild has my hands.
The marbles, whorly planets
tap tapping against
the wooden floor.