Stories about sexual orientation

#TherapistDiaries: The dilemma of being in the closet in Pakistan

I was recently discussing with a patient about how in our culture we do not like to disappoint our parents and would put up with any unreasonable demands and rules just to escape an irrational guilt of hiding something from them or revealing our true selves. This overwhelming guilt or anxiety is experienced even in the most casual rules they set early on in our lives regarding food, friends, religion and so on. For instance, in our society, a 30-plus working adult would rarely challenge these irrational rules and if they do, they carry a great amount of guilt in ...

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India’s awakening: The end of Article 377 and the last shred of colonialism

One of the most glaring anomalies in the Indian legal landscape is Article 377, the 1861 law that criminalises gay sex. This law, inspired by Victorian era prudishness, should have no place in the India of 2018. The British, who created this law based on their values of that time, have now adopted much more liberal and progressive outlooks. Meanwhile, the Indian state has refused to move on. In fact, it has appropriated those archaic values and keeps them entrenched and alive in the country’s legal code. This is ironic, and perhaps tragic, because through the course of history, the Indic ...

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In a society where you are either heterosexual or just “messed up”, is there any room for asexuals?

My great grandmother had a cousin who spent her whole life single. She had a successful life, to say the least – she was a practicing doctor, she had a wonderful social circle and she indulged in numerous hobbies. And she was really, really content. Contentment is a strange emotion; you can be happy but not necessarily content. She, however, was tremendously satisfied with her life. She had everything, except a husband, and not because she wasn’t able to find someone, but because she didn’t want one. She had a great upbringing in a moderately liberal family with happily married ...

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Why your husband might be gay

Allow me to get straight to the point. Homosexuality exists, and contrary to the mass media being dominated by heterosexual affairs, the ubiquity of same-gender attraction cannot be ignored. Yes, we need to talk about this. It’s difficult to say what percentage of the population is gay, because ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ are not distinct demographics. About 2.5% of the population may be exclusively gay, but realistically speaking, every person lies somewhere on the spectrum. For a long time, we’ve relied on what is known as the ‘Kinsey Scale’ – rating a person on a scale of one to six, with one being ‘attracted ...

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He told his parents he was gay. They started grieving and looking for a “cure”

“I fell a-weeping, and I cried, ‘Sweet youth, Tell me why, sad and sighing, Thou dost rove These pleasant realms? I pray thee speak me sooth What is thy name?’ He said, ‘My name is Love.’ Then straight the first did turn himself to me And cried, ‘He lieth, for his name is Shame, But I am Love, and I was wont to be Alone in this fair garden, Till he came Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.’ Then sighing, said the other,  ‘Have thy will, I am the love that dare not speak its name.’” From Two Loves By Lord ...

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Aligarh: Gay love in the time of Bollywood

All right, I am holding my hands up and I admit I was a homophobe back in the day. Like any typical Pakistani youngster, a lot of my cussing and swearing involved slurs against the gay community. Even the word ‘gay’ itself turns pejorative since it’s used with a derisive attitude in our society and considered as a general term of disparagement amongst Pakistani youth and ashamedly, I was no different. But for me personally, my days as a typical homophobic youngster changed for good when I happened to stumble upon Brokeback Mountain (2005). I am not a big fan of movies ...

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‘No groom for you’ – The dilemma of an Indian gay man

Most concerned Indian parents worry about their child’s happiness and would like to see her/him live a happy and fulfilled life, and being married is traditionally considered part of that equation of fulfilment. The search begins to find the correct partner, by word of mouth and other avenues. One method includes placing a newspaper matrimonial advertisement in a local or national newspaper to draw upon the eyes of many potential suitors and their families for marriage. Once the ad is placed, the phones begin to ring and emails are exchanged, all leading to a potential match. Everybody is happy! Yay! However, for one such ...

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Pakistanis should no longer live in fear of other Pakistanis!

Imagine having to wake up every day and being afraid of going to school. Afraid that other students will harass and torment you because of your – perceived or actual – sexual orientation, gender expression, ethnicity, disability, or just because. That is the reality that many Pakistani students face every day. Kids in schools today are harassed because of perceptions related to their sexual orientation and are bullied because of their gender expression. The world community, including the media, general public, opinion leaders and policy makers will commemorate International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia this year on May 17th; but who in ...

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If you are gay and Muslim, “change your sexual orientation!”

I was shocked when I read the recent news story about a Muslim family living in Germany who wanted to arrange the marriage of their 18-year-old homosexual son against his will with a Lebanese girl. The son told the media that his family threatened to slit his throat and burn him alive if he did not change his sexual orientation. Eventually, the court intervened and saved the young man from the brutal punishment from his family. This news reminded me of an acquaintance, Azam*, who runs a delicatessen in New York. He told his mother that he was gay when they ...

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Life as Faiq by day, Aashi by night

Aashi, a transgender who is Faiq by day and Aashi at night, says, “Living a discrete life is not everyone’s cup of tea.” It was an uphill task getting in touch with a person from this community who would willingly sit down and disclose the issues they face every day without much exaggeration and clichéd responses. We searched for one such individual from traffic signals to the slums of Karachi and eventually through a reliable source, we managed to reach Faiq’s apartment in a posh neighbourhood of Defence in Karachi. Faiq was expecting us and greeted us with warmth and with great courtesy, which ...

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