Ahmed Mayeesha Reza Agomoni
A child believes the myth that an old man, accompanied by eight reindeer plus one with a light at the end of his nose, flies through the air on his sleigh and leaves gifts under the Christmas tree for children who have been good for the entire year. Things do not make sense after a while, but the child has a lot of reasons not to examine the discrepancies too closely. When they finally learn the fact that they had been clinging to a deceitful legend all this time, the child comes to terms with it.
I would often get all sweaty and anxious as those “forbidden” questions kept popping up on my mind. A part of me — the evil me whom I have named Mister Preda — was always ready to suppress what my subconscious was trying to say for the majority of the past five years. At that time, I felt grateful to Mister Preda because he kept reassuring me that he was keeping me safe; he was the gatekeeper to my happiness and that within those four metaphorical walls surrounding me, I would be safe. But, was I actually happy and perfectly fine with being associated with the terms “straight” or “heterosexual”?
My parents were simple folk who respected authority, and we lived in a small town where everyone thought and believed alike. I had heard stories from my parents about how one of their old friends, Velda, had never gotten married and was living in an apartment with a divorcee, Tabitha. They would go on and on and on ad nauseam about their unbreakable bond and beautiful friendship.
I saw them at gatherings and reunions, and they truly were a delightful bunch to be around. To my curiosity and hope for finding an underlying answer, I asked my parents why everyone thought Velda and Tabitha were just friends and not something more than that. They merely said that they had just assumed them to be.
I feel very lucky and privileged to be born in the 21st century. It breaks my heart to realise how frightening the past had been for the LGBTQ+ community. My parents are from a different era. Judging the behaviour of older generations of LGBQ+ people by today’s standards is not quite fair. Real and terrifying consequences came to many whose hidden lives had been uncovered.
Sexuality is not a choice. You don’t get to choose whom you feel attracted to; it is a feeling and it just happens. Even being bi-curious may not have been an option for older generations. They had to sweep their feelings under the rug and settle for the opposite gender. Even a tad bit of doubt that you may not belong in the body that you are born in was a big no no for them. I cannot even begin to understand the mental torture that many closeted people had to go through.
I am living in a society more progressive than before. There are countless YouTube videos, podcasts, blogs, and books regarding the LGBTQ+ community. Needless to say, the community is very welcoming and makes everyone feel at home. I have people to look up to and relate with.
I cannot thank my parents enough for being the way they are. Yes, they are religious, but it does not instigate hate on the community. Seeing them socialise with the people at pride parades and educate themselves about the history of queer oppression warms my heart. I am well aware that not everyone has the same situation as myself, and that even now, some people will never come out in fear of being disowned by their families and rejected by their friends.
Sexuality is a journey; it is not a race. I am coming to terms with my feelings. Although I wished I had acknowledged it sooner, it is still better late than never. The last five years have been tough for me and my mental health deteriorated greatly. I was in denial and neglected my feelings. I was the one who was keeping myself away from happiness and I felt like nothing but a blank, white canvas.
From now on, I will be my own painter, and I am done depriving myself from experiencing the beautiful colours in life. This journey in search of my sexuality might be long and winding, but I am looking forward to it. Maybe at the end of it, this white canvas will have a rainbow painted over it by yours truly.
Agomoni has a bittersweet relationship with speaking Java and convincing her parents to watch soap operas and YouTube with her.