After the editors of Bangladesh's only LGBT Magazine were killed, I wonder if I should be worried about my life.
‘Wasn’t an atheist writer killed in Bangalore last year? A professor?’
‘Ummm yeah, MM Kalburgi...’
A long 'hmm...' later, he nodded, looked me in the eye blankly, expressionless, got up and walked away. That was my father. This is how he reacted when he learned I write about atheism, feminism, LGBT and against conservative right wing politics. This passive aggressive reaction came from a communist, who spent his entire life fighting for the rights of the underprivileged tea estate workers of Kerala. Someone who knows how to stand up and speak out. This was his reaction.
Growing up, I always thought he wanted me to be like him, follow his footsteps. I think a lot of people expected that. I remember going to a local tea shop as a child, and the vendor, who is one of the guys from my dad’s opposition party, pulled a Chandler Bing and asked me why I even bother going to school because the ‘apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’. When my butt-hurt little self told my grandma about it, she told me to ask him if that’s the reason he makes porottas for a living. She's savage!
When I became a corporate sell-out, I thought my dad wouldn’t be happy about it. So imagine the excitement I expected when I told him I left my career in IT to become a writer. What I got were ‘hmms' and poker faces.
To be fair, my parents are worried I might get stabbed or hacked to death. Their worst nightmare, but I gotta say, that’s actually kind of flattering to me. It would mean someone actually read what I wrote. Sadly, I’m still trying to get attention and break the internet like Kim Kardashian and her voluntary nudes.
But think about it. There is actually a good chance that I might get killed someday. Just because I’m an unapologetic liberal atheist feminist and as queer as they come. So naturally, I’m surrounded by too many buttons that say ‘push’ in big bold letters. If I were in Bangladesh, there are chances I’d be half dead in my apartment right now, typing with one hand and covering a stab wound with the other. Bangladesh isn’t halfway across the world from us.
Xulhaz Mannan: metro.co.uk
It’s only been a couple of days since the senior Editor of Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine, Roopban, was hacked to death by extremists. Before that, an atheist was killed and then a professor. A source close to the Roopban editors says that many of the `out’LGBTQ members have gone off the grid to 'not get murdered'. Many are trying to get a visa to India.
But can we really protect them? Kalburgi wasn’t killed in Bangladesh. He wasn’t killed by Islamic extremists. He was killed right here in Bangalore and by our own home-grown religious fanatics.
But the difference is that we, liberals, notice it, we talk about it, we speak up against it. Even when they chase us to stick labels on us, we own up to it, being proudly ‘sickular’, and we don’t hold back our opinions. Our counterparts in the US do the same to their version of ‘bhakts’.
Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi: dailymail.co.uk
It’s amazing how, on one side of the planet, we have people fighting for their rights to pee in the toilets for the gender they identify with. And on the other side, we have people getting murdered for just being. For talking about their existence. And I know, a person is more than their sexuality or gender or faith or the lack thereof but when they are valued and defined only based on these characteristics, you begin to ask yourself, is this what I am all about?
Do I stop being a person if I love a man? Do I stop being a person if I don't believe in God?
I complain about the heat 36 times a day and never planted a tree in my life. I get super cranky when I'm hungry or sleepy or when it's Game of Thrones day and I haven't had a chance to watch the latest episode yet. So trust me, I'm still a person. Flawed and fabulous!
And I just can't keep calm and go on like nothing happened. There are buttons that might need to be pushed intentionally or just accidentally because I am clumsy. I don't deserve a bullet through my head for just being. The Roopban editors didn't deserve what happened to them. They were the heroes, the real deal, because it takes a lot to be out and proud where people see differences as a threat than to get offended because Modern Family perpetuates stereotypes.
What happened to them needs to be acknowledged and talked about. The rest of the LGBT community in Bangladesh needs to be helped. The LGBT community in India and across the world needs to speak up. Because we either get pissed off or pissed on. Even if you're into the latter for some weird reason (no judgment), let's get pissed off!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101india.com
By Arjun Raj
Cover Photo Credit: imgur.com