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.
One of my biggest regrets in life is not finding out transgender people existed until my mid-teens. Growing up, I never heard of transgender as a concept. My parents, my school, and the media were all silent. I was told I was a girl and I accepted that I must be. I ignored the constant feeling of disconnect from my body and how much more I identified with boys than girls because I had no ability to consider that I had any options other than to live with what I was told I was.