2019 Jun 24
When I first heard RuPaul say, “We as gay people get to choose our family and the people we’re around. I am your family. We are a family here.” I didn’t really understand the full gravity of that statement but last week I had the pleasure of meeting someone who was so amazing that I couldn’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Being LGBTQIA+ is definitely fun but it’s not at all easy so whenever possible it helps to have an ally
Auntie Vasanthi, as most would call her, has been a supporting shoulder to many young LGBTQIA people and their parents for the past few decades. The experience she has gained over the years and her empathy lend me a lot of insight, and I firmly believe that all of us have something to gain from her wisdom. So with her blessings, here are some things that I learned from her on a Thursday morning.
What can we do to face what society throws at us?
If you are anyone who’s remotely different from what society thinks of as “normal”, you’re in for a challenge. As an LGBTQIA+ person society throws a lot your way – from a simple but hurtful offhand remark, to physical and emotional abuse. According to Auntie Vasanthi, the best thing that we can do is to stay patient and surround ourselves with people who understand and accept us for who we are. Even if it’s one person this can be helpful.
Talking to the parents
This is one of the hardest things for any LGBTQIA+ and for the most part, the results are not positive. This is something that Auntie Vasanthi works with a lot and her advice to this was, “Be gentle with your approach. Sit and talk to them even if you have to do it again and again. They will be traumatised but that’s all part of the process. Your parents love you and that love will come through one day.”
There is no simple answer to this as each situation is different but with enough patience and time, things will work out.
Coming out of the closet
Coming out of the closet can mean many different things to many different people. Whether it’s telling your best friend that you are gay or personally coming into terms with your gender identity, this is a journey and it’s not always easy. The advice I got is to always keep in mind that it’s natural and it just happens. Whether the debate is within you or on the outside, we need to accept the fact that things just happen.
Shutting down a part of who you are won’t help anyone and it will only hurt you, so find the right community (Equal Ground does some amazing work), take things slow, and you will be glad that you did this.
It’s not going to be easy
Sri Lanka is still primitive in many regards and this whole journey is not going to be an easy one. Although it was mentioned a few times within this article, Auntie Vasanthi continued to mention the fact that surrounding yourself with the right kind of people is the best thing that you can do.
We need to learn the art of being both subtle, and open-minded and we will be able to change the world even if it’s just one person at a time.
Being anything different from the norm is hard in Sri Lanka, and when it comes to the LGBTQIA community, it is an even bigger challenge. However, things are changing and with allies like Auntie Vasanthi, the journey forward will lead to a better place.