Why I Need Gay Friends

So in previous posts I spoke about how I don’t really click with people who are LGBTQ. It’s something I’m still trying to understand, but for the most part I noticed that it is because when I’m in a group of LGBTQ people, I’m expected to act a particular way. I see my gay male friends, who are so flamboyant, and pretty much scream about how much sex they’re having with men they don’t even know. And with my female gay friends it’s always about which bitch broke up with which friend, and how she just wants to have sex with her long-distance girlfriend.

It’s never about *normal* stuff. Stuff that is unrelated to sex or relationships.

Most of the time I just want to speak about games, writing, art and music. Things I find fun and relaxing. Stuff that allows me to connect with the person with whom I am speaking.

But now I’ve reached a dilemma. When I’m with my heterosexual friends, and they start talking about their crush of the opposite sex. And whenever I do join in (because I’m pansexual, and also because I’m not blind), they get confused and want to know if I’m bisexual, and ‘since when do I like the opposite sex’. So I generally just remain silent and let them gush about their crushes, which then leads to the awkward situation where I’m just sitting down quietly and everyone else is chatting away.

I realised that in these situations it’s not even right for me to gush about any of my same-sex crushes, because then I would be making my straight friends uncomfortable, even though they’re allowed to do that with me.

I don’t have this problem with my LGBTQ friends, because for them my same-sex attraction is normal. They experience it too. For my hetero friends it’s not normal. Subconsciously, they’re still trying to come to terms with it.

To be honest, there are like two straight people I’m friends with [out of like a million] who are comfortable with me speaking about attractive people of my same sex. They treat it as something normal and expected.

So anyway, this got me thinking about how difficult it is for LGBTQ people to even make and keep friends. And why it’s so important for the community to become an actual…community. Where topics aren’t just LGBTQ-related, but where the community can actually discuss things outside the rainbow world. And also discuss rainbow-related things whenever they feel like. Like a normal community.

Lets face it, straight people don’t stay talking about sexuality (they never had to, and I’m not saying we should stop), what I’m saying is balance it out. Cause if we don’t want people to just see us as a sexual orientation, then maybe we should start making them listen to us as people, and not as a walking sexual orientation.

Hypocrisy at its Best

I couldn’t help but follow the Duggar Scandal going on. For those of you who (thankfully) never heard of the show ’19 and Counting’, the Duggars are highly conservative, patriarchal Christians. They don’t approve of things like women wearing short sleeves or short skirts, and they definitely do not approve of kissing before marriage. That stuff is just not done. To be sure that nothing like the sort happens, unmarried couples need to be chaperoned… well…

The eldest boy, Josh, got into a bit of trouble a few years back. When he was 12, he sexually assaulted a bunch of girls…including his own sisters. What makes it even worse is that his own parents knew of this and hid it for a few years before realising how disgusting and horrifying they were and reported it to the police.

So why bring it up now? Well, when you’re such a conservative family, who basically declare that everyone else is going to hell, then you wouldn’t really expect for them to not only have a son who sexually assaulted girls, including his own siblings, or to hide it once they found out. What happened to ‘God’ seeing all and judging all?

Another point which I’d like to make is that this family, with all its hypocrisies is fundamentally flawed. First off, the bunch of children they are spewing out is ridiculous. It feels like they made it their personal mission to populate the Earth alone. And with all those children, how much time are you actually using to parent them, to teach them, to listen to them? Or is the focus to hope that god will educate them and show them right from wrong?

Secondly, the exaggerated amount of rules they have for women is insane. So women cannot show their elbows? And why can’t they? Because they’re afraid it would be too much for men to handle and control themselves? That sort of reasoning is one of the various flaws we have in our general thinking, which we can see perpetuated even in schools, where girls are sent home because they are dressed in such a way which would ‘distract the boys’. Which not only tells women that they need to always accommodate men, or that men cannot control themselves ‘cause boys will be boys’, but it also ingrains in them the thought that their education does not matter as much as a boy’s.

So what happened here with Josh Duggar? He was 12, starting to hit puberty, felt sexual urges which no one would discuss with him at home. So he followed those urges. Is this excusable? Definitely not. But his family philosophy is that boys are right, girls are wrong. Boys are superior, girls are inferior. He wanted to touch a girl’s breast? He can trust that breast.

His parents ingrain this superiority complex even more when they choose to protect him to the detriment of their own daughters. Who are also their flesh and blood. No, they’re fine with not tending to their psychological and emotional needs, because they have just been sexually abused, just so that they can protect their prized boy.

This isn’t just a case of a 12 year old boy sexually abusing girls and being inappropriate (to say the least). This is a case which perfectly shows how society allows this to happen by turning a blind eye. Lets face it, the second Kim Kardashian filed for a divorce a mere 72-hours after her wedding, everyone heard about it. But how many heard of this case of a man sexually assaulting women, and how many cared to learn more and criticise the story. Yes, 19 and counting has been removed from the air, but I haven’t been reading many people commenting on the bigger picture. And I have yet to hear people from the conservative community criticising these actions.

Keeping my Identity

One of the joys, and also pains, of knowing open-minded people, is that when you inform those people of your gender then they are more likely to accept you. The price for this acceptance, particularly for those people who don’t understand/never knew about non-binary or genderqueer etc is that they will be asking you questions. Which you should generally answer, because lets face it, at least they’re trying to learn more. And it’s way better to learn from you, rather than from a clap-trap source online.

Recently, I made friends with someone with quite a scientific mind. This means that this person is open minded, but even logical. And as most of us know, gender is not the most logical in the world, it’s a personal experience which we present and express in our own way. But I wanted to try teach this person about gender, because in this person’s field of work, chances are they would meet someone who is gender variant.

The issue is that this person has been following stereotypes. For example, if you like pink then you’re a girl, if you like wearing dresses you’re a girl. If you enjoy ties and fast cars you’re a guy. And then this person got more complicated. This person knew of women who for example: did not like pink and enjoyed playing sports, and so concluded that possibly I was more this way.

Naturally, I explained that no, my hobbies and interests don’t affect my gender, my gender is internal. Yet, this is still something which needs to be explained further.

This got me thinking about my gender and identity. If we look at the stereotypes, women and men generally perpetuate these stereotypes, and even if say, a woman enjoys sports, there’s still something feminine about her. So I started to reevaluate myself.

I evaluated my expression, my hobbies, likes and dislikes. And yes, there are some things which are effeminate, but there are others which are masculine too. However, since I am AFAB then instead of viewing these as masculine, then they merely view it as a sign of lesbianism. Which means that till this day, people still confuse sexuality and gender. And that is not a mentality which is easy to change.

In the end, I once again reached the acceptance that I am, in fact, non binary. Despite my likes and dislikes, the way I express myself, the way I walk and speak. None of that matters, cause my core is non-binary.

The rest is just me expressing myself. 

Being Valid


  

To be honest, I’m terrible around the LGBTQ community (I’m not going to speak about the I – Intersex part of the community because I’m not intersex).


At first I always put it down as me being awkward around people. Until I realised that I could actually interact with people who were cis or non-heterosexual with ease. I could also interact with people whose gender identity or sexual orientation I was not aware of.


But put me in a room of LGBTQ people and I freeze. I feel awkward. 


Did I look up to them? after all, they were people who came out. I’m out too for the most part, but I would automatically assume that these people came out before me. So maybe I saw them as my heroes, but after spending time with them I would be able to calm down.


That never happened.


I tried joining my local LGBTQI group but I just could never interact. I didn’t contribute with my opinion on issues I could contribute on. So what was going on? 


I didn’t feel *gay* enough. I didn’t feel *queer* enough. And I feared their judgement. 


Was this way of thinking my fault, or theirs? I would say both.


It’s my fault that I feel like I’m not a valid member of the community. I need to learn that the way I feel and express myself are good ways, so long as I’m myself. I need to learn that just because I don’t identify as trans* it doesn’t mean that I’m not non-binary. 


But it’s also the community’s fault for being so aggressive. I can understand the need to fight for one’s rights, to have to justify one’s emotions because the *normal* people can’t get it. But it’s this aggressiveness which makes it so hard for someone to join that community, to say ‘here I am, in all my glory’.


It’s also the community’s fault for not fighting against the stereotypes which they themselves can perpetuate. Am I expected to look and act gay? and is there a point where I become *too* gay or queer to be accepted?


I’ve realised that I could never be part of the queer or pansexual community, and I’ve accepted that. But it’s still a very difficult thing to accept, after all, we’re all looking for our place in this world. 

Mental Health Awareness Week

So it’s Mental Health Awareness Week until Sunday, and since I’ve been quite ‘off the radar’ I thought, what better time to come back than this week?

You see, the reason I’ve been AWOL is because I’ve been battling my anxiety for the past few months.

I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. Probably even before then. I started self medicating from a young age. To spare you the messy details there was alcohol, smoking, drugs, self harm and suicidal ideation involved. But back then I had no idea that it was because of my anxiety, I just enjoyed the feeling of relief, those few moments when I managed to get out of my head.

Those moments were short lived, and so I started medicating more frequently, until I realised that I was going too far. Ok, I didn’t realise it by myself, I met someone who made me realise that self medication wasn’t the way to go.

So instead I immersed myself in meditation, spirituality, philosophy and learning. And that gave me temporary relief, but it was enough to get by. I still had no name for the emotions I was feeling.

It was only last year that I finally realised that what I was feeling wasn’t regular stress, but actual anxiety. I started having fainting spells because of all the stress and anxiety I was under, I stopped being able to sleep, my mind was making me see horrors in the dark. I became paranoid about the slightest thing. However, thankfully those moments would pass, and I would forget all about them. I figured that I was only experiencing the ‘normal’ amount of anxiety, and that once I did what had to be done, then the anxiety would go away. I still had no idea that what I had wasn’t ‘normal’ but an ‘extreme’.

Then from November till January I was under a lot of stress due to University work. I was constantly on the go. If I was on the bus I was working, when I got to work and I had nothing to do, I would be working on University things, or on work related to the student organization I was a member of. I was constantly on the go. And even though that gave me a lot of pleasure, I was constantly running on a high. It was as though I was running away from something. I lost touch with myself in the process.

After many restless nights, when the horror movies in my head became too much to handle, nights when I literally felt as though I was dying, I started to research. I realised that I definitely was not having a normal reaction to anxiety. It turned out I was having a normal reaction to anxiety, but it was my anxiety which was not normal.

I had a mental health issue.

But I didn’t accept it.

Yes, I could tell myself that I’m anxious, but I refused to seek help. I would handle it the way I always did. I started drinking again. I would tell myself that it helped me focus on my assignments, it was just a method to relax.

But the anxiety didn’t go away. Months started passing, and sometimes it would calm down, and I could sleep, and I wouldn’t keep checking over my shoulder to see if someone was following me.

But then it would just flare up again.

And finally, after about three nights in a row where I felt I was going to die, when my chest hurt and I would cry without control, and I finally admitted that yes, I needed help. I sent an email and made an appointment at the counselling unit the very next day.

Best decision of my life.

I’m still in therapy, but I already feel better. I still have anxiety, therapy doesn’t automatically take away the anxiety, take away that fear. But I’m starting to learn more about myself. I thought I was a very self aware person, but now I’m realising that the self medication was stopping me from being in touch with myself. And now I’m learning about myself, the good, the bad and the ugly. And I’m learning how to live with my anxiety, instead of expecting it to magically disappear.

So what’s my point? My point is that mental health is an important thing. One of the most important things we have. And it’s ok to have a mental health problem. It’s actually more common than you think. According to recent statistics, 1 in 4 of us have Anxiety, and 1 in 3 will have depression. So if you think of all the people you’ve met recently, you’ve definitely met someone who had anxiety, and another who had depression.

So during this week, please try find out as much as you can about mental health, particularly how you can help someone with a mental health problem. How to be there for someone. And if you have a mental health issue, then seek help. Find a friend you can confide in, or make an appointment at your nearest counselling unit. It’s actually not as scary as you think it is.

Historic Gender Identity Law

How many of you know where Malta is?

It’s basically this gorgeous tiny little island under Sicily. Its constitution declares that it’s a Catholic State.

So why am I mentioning it today?

Cause yesterday Malta passed a law called the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC). This law is groundbreaking on a global scale. So what does this new legislation comprise of?

1. Transgender people no longer need to a) divorce, b) go through sterlisation/surgery or c) be diagnosed with a mental illness to change their gender and name legally on all their documents.

2. For babies born Intersex, parents can put an ‘X’ marker on the child’s birth certificate up to the age of 18! Yes! That means that Intersex people will no longer have to go through invasive surgeries and/or hormone treatments without their informed consent. So when the child is certain of their gender, then they can change their documents. AMAZING

3. Minors who are trans* can ALSO change their documents legally. Naturally, given their young age they would need to be seen by a board of experts, made up a psychiatrist, social worker etc. NOT to classify the child with a mental illness, but to make sure the child is aware of what it wants.

4. No employer can reject a trans* person from employment just because they are trans*. Everyone must be respected, and should this law be infringed then there would be a fine.

To make all this even better, Malta is working on an education policy for schools to become more accepting and understanding of diversity and for students.to become accepting of their peers, but also if they themselves feel that they may be trans*, then they would be given the needed support.

And another cool thing for us non-binary and genderqueer etc folk? Malta is working to get the X marker permanently on legal documents. That’s right. Should this succeed, Maltese people would no longer have to choose to become part of the binary! They can choose to just be listed with an X marker.

This stuff is so cool.

KUDOS MALTA!

STOP the Stigma

I’m going to start this by saying that all extremism is bad, and possibly a sign of an unstable mental health.

But that’s not what I’m going to talk about. This post is about mental health…and more importantly, how the stigmatization of an unhealthy mental wellbeing is going to ruin us.

As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, a few days ago a plane crashed in the French Alps. The story goes that the co-pilot intentionally crashed the GermanWings plane, killing 150 people (including himself, obviously). When it crashed the plane was going at around 700km/hr. As to be expected, no one was saved, and the entire plane was in ruins.

All people cared about was whether or not it was a terrorist attack, and they were significantly relieved to find out that the co-pilot had made no mention of ‘Allah hu akbar’ (which is what Muslim extremists tend to say before launching an attack). Here I’d like to point out that no one assumed that he could be a Christian terrorist, or a Jewish one. But I digress again.

The next step, since he was white, was to start looking at his mental wellbeing. Words such as ‘suicidal’ and ‘depressive’ started being thrown about. And then, some very *smart* people said “He should have just killed himself if he was suicidal”. Now, I get that people are upset. And they have every right to be. 149 innocent people, including around 16 school children were killed in one of the most atrocious ways. The likelihood of their loved ones recovering from this is incredibly slight.

But by saying that you’re just looking at the short term. This reasoning goes like this: Person A dies so Situation B never happens.

But if it wasn’t Person A, there will be another person who will do this.

Telling someone to just kill themselves is never the answer. And frankly, if you think this way (even after reflection about what you said), then you’ve completely detached yourself from the human race and lack compassion. Yes, I will be blunt.

So what actually needs to be done? Stop stigmatizing mental health.

Everyone has a mental health. And everyone can go through a tough time and get sick. Just like you can get a cold.

“I don’t stigmatise!”  I hear you say, or “I don’t feel stigmatized”. Well, 1. if a friend comes to you and tells you that they feel depressed, do you feel awkward and not know what to say? and try to cover up your feelings with humour without ever trying to take care of your friend? 2. Do you feel depressive, or are you self harming, but you hide it from the people you care about because you feel ashamed?

welllllllllllllll

that’s stigmatization

In an ideal world, people are comfortable and speak openly about their mental health. Visiting a psychologist or a counsellor wouldn’t be the walk of shame, something which needs to be hidden or whispered only to a very close friend. It should be something you can mention randomly, without anyone judging you. You wouldn’t judge your friend for catching the flu, so why  judge your friend for having anxiety?

In today’s world, no one can speak of their mental health issues, unless it’s anonymously online. Because it’s just not safe out there. Try telling your employer that you can get crippling anxiety when under a lot of stress. No matter how many times you tell him that you always pull through, he just wouldn’t hire you.

So what happens? People start hiding their problems. And people can get very good at hiding them. They learn how to function on a day-to-day basis, and no one would ever suspect otherwise. Because no one ever looks deep enough to see the cracks in these people’s armour.

And then what?

Well some people will keep on functioning until their natural death.

Otherwise will end their misery early. Because seeking help was never an option.

Some actually find the strength to seek help.

Others end their life in a tragic way which ends up on the news. Case in point, the GermanWings plane crash.

I’m not saying that the co-pilot was mentally ill. But the signs do point towards that. Why else would you deliberately crash a plane and kill all those people? Even if there was an ulterior motive, that motive would have been backed by an unstable mind.

The solution is not pushing mentally ill people to suicide. Quite the opposite. Push these people towards help. Towards support. Towards love.