Living on the fringe
“ Shame Akash, Don’t show us these pictures. It’s a sin even to look at them.” This was the reaction of Jhomur, my sister, to my story about Jibon a homosexual man living in my neighborhood. Her reaction is typical. Religious beliefs and cultural standards of morality make homosexuality an unacceptable abomination in Bangladesh. The kote, as gays are called locally, are ostracized and thus live together in small communities. Yet social stigma is not enough to dent their unshakeable faith in life. ‘Kote’— a word in colloquial dialect meaning homosexual (gay) — is what they are called. But most important of all is how they identify themselves in a heterosexual society. Due to the dictates of religious and cultural beliefs they are regarded as objects of hatred and disgust in our society because their objects of desire are men not women. Their lack of education has so far deprived them of information and any scope of communication with gays all over the world. So they bonded themselves in their very own community of brotherhood. Apart from their sexual desire for their own gender these physically complete males have an intense faith in life. It is this faith that keeps them survive and dreaming, even when reality aims to destroy everything that they hold dear.