I was raised in a very Catholic family. I only attended Catholic schools, including an all girl high school. Being anything other than strictly heterosexual wasn’t just frowned upon but would likely get you sent away from the family so you couldn’t influence the younger children. Heaven help you if the nuns found out!
Editor’s Note: The following submission is from Ejel Khan. Have an LGBTQ+ related experience or story to share? Having your article published on this site will automatically enrol you into a raffle to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Submit an article today via queerdeermedia.com. Contemporary life in the UK during the 80’s was homophobic, […]
I was 14 the first time I thought killing myself would be easier than coming out. We had gone to a 60th birthday party for a family friend, the whole family. It was supposed to be a fun saturday night that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. But that night I heard my dad say something that has stuck with me for years. Looking back it was just a conversation between too drunk men that they both wouldn’t think about the next day and I should have viewed it as such. But I didn’t, I cried myself to sleep, wishing I could change who I was and thinking that it would be easier just to die than face who I was.
My life in Cairo Egypt was normal, I was in the closet and I didn’t even think about dating, I just had my fantasies and dreams. In 2011 I decided to come out of my shell a little bit, I started wearing what I always wanted, tried to experience my gender fluidity even for few hours every week. I even created a super private instagram account and started celebrating my identity as a homosexual gender fluid with very few people I met online not knowing that my new look will provok my coworkers. One of them, who is a software developer, hacked my Instagram account, took screenshots and sent them to over 250 co-workers, in 24 hours these pictures reached my family’s mobile phones.
At 52 Its so very strange looking back. Childrens homes, foster homes , broken family, alone at 16 , trouble with the law, oh and yes gay. I was in a rut back then until i decided to face “it” . I was out at 23 I wrote letters and left the small town of ilkley where i was never worthwhile.
To be young, black, queer, and from a township in South Africa is difficult. I am not saying this from a place of assuming a single-story knowing of others’ experiences, or seeking to invalidate the hardships of those who did not grow up in townships. I say this from particular and personal lived experiences of having grown up in Soweto, Meadowlands, and lived most of my life there. Furthermore, as a young black queer man from a township seeking to recover, locate, understand and place myself – my blackness, maleness, masculine performativity, and queerness (particular to my environment) – I have come to be met with numerous frustrations and incomplete representations of what it is to be “black, male, and from a township”.
When I was younger I was a very shy boy who knew he was different from the others. I played with the girls and regularly picked on. My father was a very masculine man who attempted to pass his macho lifestyle on to me. I would rather do crafts with my mother or cook with my grandmother. As I got older I felt like I had to repress my feelings for men because of society, religion and the pressure to be straight for my parents. I wish someone would have sat me down and told me not to be scared. To be who I feel I am, not who I think I need to be.