Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I had several mutual friends with Jadoo at Facebook form a long period of time but we never really added each other. I didn't know him much but all I can sense from his statues or comments posted here and there at Facebook told me that he's a very respectful human with liberal and secular approach towards life. He will never rub his religiosity into people's face while having a discussion and will always draws analogy from humanism. Whenever, there will be any incident of discrimination or violence, against any one, from any one, he will always be there, unapologetically voicing his thoughts against it.
Though that wasn't enough to impress me because I know and have seen many online activists who talk and talk, accuse every one under the sun and will use all the possible 'shoulds' in the world just to show how much they care for issues and people, but sadly only online. Because when it's about getting together and working for it, they will have some personal commitment or professional liability to fulfill but will promise to come back with unlimited zeal, once again only online.
So, I thought he's one from that bunch of 'online activists,' but I was mistaken. As we become friends online, I came to know that's it's not like that. Being raised in a conservative and traditional family, and the way he has taken a shift from the tradition perspective calls for an everyday battle. He haven't told me so but I am assuming that his family might have been giving him a tough time, because that's what happened with me and it's still going own.
In Pakistan, people with secular and humanist mind set have to start waging battles from their own homes before going out and speak what is right at human level, instead of following any religious, cultural or social standards.
The way he denied to sign the document for his passport renewal, which was declaring Ahmedi community non-Muslims and the arguments he had with a renowned bookstore of Pakistan to remove anti-Ahmedi community books from their shelves is pretty amazing.
So, having such a strong and humanist ideological approach, we really get along with each other. Moreover, having an actually mature and sophisticated taste in music and art, made him even a more appropriate person to hangout with.
Another thing which I want to mention is that he neither tried to convert or discriminate me when I came out to him. The respect and the impeccable understanding he bestowed upon me was beyond my expectation. Though he was curious about the dynamics of gay sub-culture, and I instantly gave him a crash course in it as well as in Punjabi language and turned every stone up to ruin his sophisticated Urdu, which I was unable to do so far, but as they say, you never know.
So, I have been looking forward to meet him on my Karachi visit but when most of my so called 'friends' got issues and denied to see me, I started thinking that now he wouldn't be meeting me also. I was wondering that my own community members denied to see me than how can he would be comfortable in meeting me. And I mentioned that to him but he didn’t change his mind. I even tried to explain that I am out to many people and a LGBTQI activist who might earn him a bad name, so he should consider about his repute but he gave me shut up call and planned to meet me.
We met at dinner time and first thing I noticed was that he looked much younger than his profile photo and then I hugged him. He was wearing a black polo t-shirt and blue jeans and I asked him, "Do you know what you are wearing?"
And he replied in his dignified typical Karachi style Urdu, "Matlub"?
"I have heard that there's a gay group in Karachi meeting regularly at Farrer Hall and when one is going there first time, he has to wear black t-shirt and blue jeans as a dress code."
And I started laughing and poor Jaddo joined me with his embarrassed laughs.
We went to a fancy restaurant at Zamzama Boulevard. It was a tiny yet comfortable restaurant and we started off with a potato soup. I never liked soups but he insisted and I thinking of trying some Karachi stuff complied and amazingly I found that potato soup really yummy. After that I asked him to order something having rice and white sauce in it. It has always been very hard for me to order anything, so every time I go out to eat something, my friends order for me, after I tell them what I want in general, like rice, chicken, pasta, etc. It was a yummy food indeed. Really yummy. We talked about our mutual friends at Facebook, about life, activism and life in general. I also registered my protest to him that since my arrival at Karachi, I hadn't seen any handsome guy which is highly objectionable. To which he started laughing and said, "Acha! aisa hai."
Then we went for dessert and I ordered a cone of some weird flavor, which I have never had in Lahore before. Then we roamed around here a there while talking and talking and he dropped me at my rest house. He also gave a wonderful book along with a magazine I asked him once and I was so much amazed about that. I never mentioned that magazine again to him and it wasn't on my mind when I reached Karachi, even when I was going to meet him, but he was so thoughtful that he brought it anyway. It was a really nice hangout which rejuvenated me out of all my day long, tiring work.
Next day, we once gain met and this time we went for a desi food and had some yummy chicken gravy at Boat Basin, while sitting on traditional takhts. It was Sindh's culture day as well and people were celebrating it on the road, while dancing on Sindhi tunes, in ajjraks. It was nice to see all this cultural exhibitionism while having food. It was also a really nice hang out yet again.
Jadoo's hospitality, respect and understanding are worth mentioning. My trip to Karachi wouldn't have been so much fun without him. And it's also an honor to meet an individual of such a pure heart and transparent personality who is though grounded in his culture and traditions yet so much reasonable and humane in his approach that one keeps on wondering how he got that balance. His tolerance and forbearance are the most shinning characteristics of his personality I wish that if we can have many more people like Jadoo, then Pakistan will become a progressive and tolerant society, which willn't marginalize any Christian, Shiite or Ahmadi Muslim, under privileged class or queer. A big hug for Jadoo.
Photo Courtesy: Google
Monday, November 28, 2011
I came to know of Phunk Factor (Phunko) when he started commenting on my articles in Chay magazine, several moons back. He seemed to have a rational and secular approach towards the issues which other people might interpret in a religiously orthodox manner. So, after sometime, out of nowhere, I thought of looking up for him on Facebook and send him in a friend request. While searching him, I realized that he's actively writing blogs, which was a pleasant surprise. I still remember when I found out about his blogs very first time, I remained glued to my PC and by the end of almost two hours, I had read most of his romantic encounters and experiences and I was like 'Wow'. I could never imagine that anyone can actually write so openly about gay politics and subjective romantic/sexual experiences in such an open and blatant way, without any scruples. Reading his posts made me a bit embarrassed as well as excited at the same time. I was behaving like those self proclaimed morally righteous bitches who love to gossip but while chanting 'tauba tauba' at the same time.
After he accepted my friend request, we started talking, texting, emailing and tagging each other in various links at Facebook. Adding him also earned me a plethora of individuals at Facebook who wanted to be 'friends' with me. But that's another story, which I post some other day. Initially when I started talking to him, I was kind of skeptic about him because of two reasons. One, he was younger than me and in my experience, younger gay guys with somewhat LGBTQI awareness acts too immature when it’s about activism in Pakistan. Two, he was so much Burger that I thought I wouldn’t be able to relate to him in any way. He talks in English most of the time, and that’s also with an accent and I just can't bear so much English. I am desi guy who uses English out of necessity but in spite of these two reservations, I continued to be in contact with him and slowly and gradually I discovered the real Phunko who's so simple and pure of heart. Moreover, now as I look back and try to make sense out of our friendship then I think that apart from other reasons and rationales, it was GLEE also which help us to bond with each other.
Though we did have few differences but through our maturity, mutual respect and value for each other, we went through difficult times. I guess every relation has to go through this process, which actually testifies the credibility and durability of the relationship. We were two different people with two different cities and cultures in different fields but writing for same cause, LGBTQI community and that conquered all. The guy who used to be a gentleman started calling me "Didi, Baaji and Khusri" and other G-talk terms (call it Gay talk, it's an informal desi slang kinda sexually explicit and fun oriented style and mannerism apart from being a language). He was opening up to new ideas imported from Lahore and I was making myself at ease to write about my intimate encounters, as openly and honestly like Phunko. He was an inspiration in that regard.
Phunko always make me feel energize and happy and fortunately without any Khusri Drama (gay melodrama). Unlike majority of the gay men, he didn't have any emotional or psychological hiccups; any leftover (ex) in his mind, low self esteem issues or delusions of grandiose, he seemed quite grounded and comfortable in his skin for being what he is. And that's make him even more hooottttt. We had always wanted to meet each other and after more than a year I got this opportunity to visit Karachi, his hometown, to meet my online brother, friend and inspiration.
He was hell busy with a lot of things going on in his personal and professional life and I had few days with a lot of work to do as well. But still we reassured each other of meeting one another and as he put it, "It will a benchmark in the history, Hadi Hussain LGBTQI activist and blogger is meeting equally genius blogger Phunk Factor, Lahore meeting Karachi." I laughed at the way he put that thing into words but actually on a serious note, it was like that. Though I did have the fear that like many other Karachities, he might just ditch me in the end but he met me in real.
Despite time constraints and professional liabilities, we both managed to meet each other, once, for lunch. I have always objected at Phunko for meeting up guys in malls and paradoxically we both ended up meeting in a mall. As I got out of rickshaw in front of the mall, I saw a cute little guy waving his hand with a big smile. Though I had seen him virtually, but still the experience to see him very first time in real life was so much exciting. After showing off my khusri walk across the road I wen to the Phunko the hero, who was wearing a blue superman tee-shirt. We hugged each other and then tucked into the mall after letting guards put their dirty hands on us (for security reasons you know, off course you know we are sex bombshells).
Now if you ask me how he was, then I will straight (though it's really hard for me to be but still) away say that he was simply adorable. There was a certain innocence wrapped in wit which made him an outstanding guy. We went through all the floors of the mall, while chatting and posing in front of movie flexes and posters. Worth mentioning photo was in front of the poster of Desi Boys (Bollywood movie) in which I tried to kiss semi nude John Abraham. After cruising around on not so hot guys (I told Phunko that I haven’t encountered a single hot guy in his city, and that's a shame) we decided to have a meal, thus we ordered stuff and once again sharing mouth watering gossips, along with heart to heart emotional stuff.
After the food, we ordered some dessert suggested by Phunko and it was really awesome. I don't know it was chocolate rush of the dessert that I started singing "Oh la la, tu hai meri fantasy" along with all the "ahhh ahhh" (rather adding few more ahhhhhs at different places as well) and Phunko was like "stop it bitch" as it was obviously audible to the people around us. Though he thoroughly enjoyed it and asked me to mail him a recording of the song in my own voice. We talked about our friend Aaron Khan and decided to make him jealous of the blast we both had together.
Although I so much wanted to spend some more time with Phunko but I had to run back to my work so I resigned and hugged my adorable little friend and got on a rickshaw. I was really happy and satisfied after meeting Phunko which made me think that at least some Karachities are real and who didn’t try to pretend someone else. He made me believe in him as well as in the goodness of real people and I'll always cherish that feeling. The comfort level we used to have online or at phone was there and without any reservation we were communicating. It wasn't as if I was meeting some alien who I was hardly aware of. I suppose we were never masked since our very first interaction and that's the reason we really got along well with each other.
Thanks Phunko for being who you are, and for the respect and love you have showed towards me, especially when others were having a cow. Bear hugs for you.
Photo Courtesy: Phunk Factor
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Last weekend I was in Karachi and it was a memorable experience in many aspects. What started off as a professional research based trip turned out to be quite surprising and full of insight in personal sphere as well. Apart from my work, I was so much excited and looking forward to meet all my Facebook friends in Karachi who were desperately waiting to hang out with me. Before starting off with the actual events and the friendliness of my friends in question, let me tell you that I have never been attracted to Karachi, the city. All I know about Karachi is that it’s a city full of street crimes and every day is like a battle field where survival is difficult. Other than that, this city inhibits few of my intimate partners and we broke up in nasty manner. Then there's a guy, the only guy in the entire world, I hate unconditionally, is also a Karachite. Therefore I didn't have any reason to like Karachi apart from my online friends.
In this post I am going to write about the negative experiences with Karachi Facebook friends. The real drama with these friends started as soon as I announced my trip to them.
CASE1: A guy who used to count me as his very close and dear friend, who has asked about me and my life, contact information and all that, with whom I have talked and chatted for hours and hours, who had planned to send a birthday gift to me since August, and who has always insisted me to visit Karachi as soon as possible asked me, just a few days before my visit, "Can I trust you.?" And I was like, "Ask your heart." To which he texted, "But my heart does make mistakes at times, that's why I am asking you." I replied, "I don't know, it's your decision." No further exchange of texts on this issue, though we texted each other few times after that in which once I told him that I 'llnt see him.
He didn't contact me during my visit to Karachi and neither did I. So, that's the end of an apparently beautiful and bosom online friendship (pun intended). I was really hurt when he posed that question; I mean I can understand that he a closet shit hole who has billions of issues but then why the fuck he was always so pressing on meeting and all that?
CASE 2: I know this guy from almost a year and he's very much dear and close to my heart because I can see a younger Hadi Hussain in him. His on-going conflict between his sexual orientation and religious affiliation reminds me of my struggle with the same issues when I was of his age. We both confided in each other and really think that we are really good friends. Though I have issues and strong prejudice about him for being an Aquarian (sorry but my bitter life experiences have made me so) but still I couldn't leave him alone in his struggle, (the humane bitch inside me). Before this visit, I had plans to visit Karachi but it was never materialized. At that time, he clearly refused to see or meet me because he is also a closet shit hole and don't even want to see another queer, (he's extremely closet at facebook as well, though I was privileged to have his contact information and to see his pics, which I never asked for by the way). I was really taken aback at that time and the residual feeling was still there, so I planned to give him a surprise this time. I told him that I 'llnt meet him because of his reaction last time. (By the way his gift was also scheduled in the August, which I haven't received yet). So, I started this pretense but as I reached Karachi, I called him daily several times, in order to check whether he's at his place or at work and most of the times he ignored me calls or texts and at others sounded so grumpy that I never told him that I really wanted to see him. But on my last day in Karachi, I called him up and straight forwardly asked him to see me to which his reaction was "rehnay do ab". Latter he texted and showed interested in meeting up. We fixed a spot and I took a rickshaw (three wheeler ride) and went off but on my way he texted me saying that he's having panic attacks, palpitations and all that and couldn't meet me. And I was left with "Ok Tc". It wasn't in my wildest nightmare that I would receive that kind of treatment from him.
CASE 3: This guy I presumed as queer but told me otherwise, has been quite a mental fuck. He used to talk and debate over issues of social and political importance and of queer politics and all that. He was also determined to take me to show his hospitality and his city but before my arrival at Karachi, I realized that he's extremely homophobic and ready to wage war against every queer in Pakistan, though his profile has hundreds of queers, even those 'ready to squeeze your tool' kind of sleazy guys who I can never add to my profile, even being a gay myself; with whom I have a number of only queer mutual friends; and who's so much anonymous at his facebook profile that he never posted any face pic of himself (internalized homophobia!!!)So I decided not to contact him myself during my visit and he also didn’t bother to do so. Well I wonder how can a person like him can confide in a filthy sinful obnoxious gay guy is still a mystery yet to be solved.
Analysis and Profiling:
• All three of them use Khan at the end of their pseudonyms.
• All three of them are religiously conservatives (rather bigots).
• All three of them are perpetrators of homophobic.
• All three of them avoid confrontations and debates.
• All three of them display very good and generous nature, though which proved to be otherwise.
• All three of them are closet shit holes.
• They can aptly be called "Real Housewives of Karachi" after taking in account of their manipulative and cunning nature.
Photo Courtesy: Peter Kas
Thursday, October 6, 2011
In accordance with the US President Barack Obama’s May 31, 2011 GLBT Pride Proclamation that, “we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” US Ambassador for Pakistan, Richard Hoagland and members of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) hosted an event declared as ‘Islamabad’s first ever Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Pride Celebration’ on June 26, 2011 in the Federal Capital of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. This high profile event was reportedly attended by 75 people including Mission Officers, U.S. military representatives, foreign diplomats, and leaders of Pakistani LGBT advocacy groups who showed their “support for human rights, including LGBT rights in Pakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society”.
Unthankfully, all the sensational and flowery claptrap peddled around this event turned out to be a disaster for the budding underground Pakistani LGBT movement as the US Embassy conveniently oversaw the repercussions this event would have brought in an already critical country which is fighting against terrorism and radicalization while sacrificing its peace, its liberty, its sovereignty and countless lives of its law enforcement agencies and civilians alike.
Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland greets guests at GLBT Pride celebration on June 26, 2011. Photo via islamabad.usembassy.gov. The US embassy posted a statement on its website saying: "This gathering demonstrated continued U.S. Embassy support for human rights, including LGBT rights, in Pakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society.
Within a few days, the streets of major urban cities of Pakistan namely Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore were hailed with the students and political workers of Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious political party, chanting slogans at their highest pitches against homosexuals and America. For them it was a golden opportunity to kill both ‘the evils with a single stone’. Banners were displayed in major cities, especially in the federal capital, within a few days demanding persecution of gays and accusing Americans of propagating and imposing this ‘westernized’ idea. The lash back didn’t remain limited to the Jamaat-e-Islami only but sooner most of the political parties joined this bandwagon to form a coalition against the government for their menial political interests.
On the other hand, the Pakistani media, especially the local Urdu newspapers and channels dealt with the issue with their usual approach i.e. lacking all the required sensitivity and knowledge to handle this crucial issue. Their sole concern was to raise their TRP’s and circulations and that’s all. Although a few liberal and sensible voices were raised through articles by Nuwas Manto, Hashim bin Rasheed, Marvi Sirmed and Mohsin Sayeed but most of these were published in English dailies or in their online o-peds and blog sections while leaving a huge void for majority Urdu readers. There was a dire need to represent a sensitive and sensible portrayal of the issue in the Urdu media to counter the venomous articles and hate speeches by Orya Maqbool Jaan, Aamir Liaquat and Ibtisam Elahi Zaheer, who not only openly condemned homosexuals but also denounced them as sinful, non-Muslims, lesser than human beings and demanded capital punishment for them with full zeal.
Meanwhile, our media circulated and aired all this hate speech while completely overlooking its ethical and social responsibilities. I guess it’s high time that our mushrooming news channels and newspapers start differentiating between free speech and hate speech because without it, they are only damaging the fabric of an already complex and fragile society.
This unnecessary brouhaha by our sensational media started not only an untimely debate in our society but also in our households. I had never heard my mother, an ardent Urdu daily follower, having any strong stance against anyone, say it a murder, a rapist or a dacoit but one day she said, “All homosexuals should be stoned to death.”
Being a gay, living in Pakistan, from a traditional Muslim family background, it was already an ordeal to be myself but after this US Embassy triggered media frenzy things have turned even worse. The people I am out to, are now looking at me with a different perspective. They either consider me an undercover CIA agent with hidden agenda to ‘westernize’ the cultural values of Pakistan or look as if declaring that when the rogue mullahs will come and deliver me from my deadly sins, they will religiously mind their own business. This isn’t solely my own story but of several completely out or partially out queers in Pakistan. On the other hand one can imagine the suffering and tension of all those unheard, closeted voices, which were already afraid of coming out and pretending to be ‘normal’. The level of concern and uneasiness resulted from this highly inefficient and implausible event has made them even more vulnerable at the hands of the society, which is always ready to prosecute anyone different.
Surprisingly, it has also been reported that US embassy which claimed to “support LGBT rights in Pakistan” isn’t going to entertain LGBT Pakistanis for asylum. It’s as if that after starting a storm in the cocktail, they are also having an easy way out.
After talking to several local LGBT activists I have gathered two main stances regarding this whole fiasco and the future of Pakistani LGBT movement. A very small number of activists suggested that this event should be considered as a golden opportunity to come out formally and launch a full blown LGBT movement in Pakistan, after we had missed a similar opportunity in 2007 at the time of Shazina-Shumile case. On the other hand, the majority of the activists opined that it’s very sensitive and crucial time to come out and it’s better to remain underground for the survival of this movement. Change can be brought slowly and gradually, in safe and calculated ways. The recent incident where a young LGBT activist Falak Ali of Neegar Society was severely beaten up by the mullahs in the streets of Multan, a southern Punjab city, in the presence of police is just an example of the reaction of the public about this whole issue.
Still, Pakistani LGBT activists are hopeful and determined about the future of LGBT movement in Pakistan and they strongly believe that whenever there’s going to be any LGBT movement in Pakistan, it will be most definitely by Pakistani people for Pakistani people. No one else can decide or force the time for what and when we need to emancipate ourselves from the restrictions of the heterosexist society. We can have allies and support from other international organizations but the primary reinforces and stakeholders will be ourselves. Let’s hope for the times when Pakistani LGBT movement will be in full swing and our government will start accepting the existence of Pakistani LGBT.
(The Article was published in the July-August, 2011 issue of Gaylaxy magazine.)
Photo Courtesy: Google
Thursday, June 2, 2011
You have no idea how much excited I was to meet you. For the very first time, I was going to see you in flesh and blood, and anticipating a more tangible association, which used to be a virtual connection several moons back. I was hell curious to see and know the guy with whom I had a four month virtual romance. I had several plans in my mind to make our day memorable, many things to talk about, many jokes to crack, many places to visit, many meals to eat, but as I came out of cab and you welcomed me formally without a smile, I thought I didn’t know you.
It seemed as if somebody else had disguised himself to be you. From there onwards, it was a journey of unsaid discomfort which was evident from every movement of your body. And I was going through it and I knew you were also living it and I was thinking why you came to see me? Was it a courtesy gesture, some vow you had taken or just a wrong decision you made in fit of a moment? Let me tell you that, seeing you in discomfort was making me feel guilty as if I had forced you to see me at gun point.
You were wearing blue, blue’s my favourite. Did you still remember that? I looked into your eyes while we were having cold coffee and there was everything except recognition. Did you know, you checked your cell 37 times precisely in our 2.5 hours long meeting? Did you know how many times I checked mine? Not for a single time. You were so aloof, so lost, so far away from me then that I was getting embarrassed. I had thought that we both had grown up since the break up and all the sour experiences and emotional damages have already been claimed and sorted out so for once in life, we could meet each other as nice friends. But you were not in the right state of mind to cherish all those happy memories of our virtual romantic past.
I wasn’t happy when you left me at the door step of that Sea View KFC all by myself as you had some stuff to do. I wanted to say, “Maddy! Look at me, this me Hadi, the same Hadi you used to love and wanted to meet so badly. For whom you were ready to die. I am the same Hadi man, just look at me for once. Don’t I count anymore? Doesn’t the twinkle of my eyes fascinate you any longer? Why, my million dollar smile, which used to get your attention easily, is unable to convince you to look at me, today?”
But I remained silent. I was feeling bottled up like a fizzy drink of confused emotions, potentially lamenting over the stale love once existed between us. For once in my life, I wanted to be all crying and wailing. I wanted to slap you, to curse you, to cry my heart out over what we had made out of our lives. I wanted to create brouhaha about all those unfulfilled dreams and unaccomplished desires I had envisioned for us but couldn’t materialise.
Maddy! The fact of the matter is that I can live being unloved but I can’t survive being unwanted and you made me feel so that day when we met for the first time. You have no idea how hard it is to act like a stranger with someone you have been very close with. It reminds me of a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz which he wrote about his visit to Dhaka after the separation of East Pakistan. “Hum kay theray ajnabi, itni madaratoun kay baad, Phir banain gay aashna kitni mulaqataun kay baad…”
Image Courtesy: Alex Bruda