Longing, Belonging, & Identity: Young Gay Men in Bangladesh

19-year-old Kabir is now counting the days to be rescued from a rehabilitation center in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The person fighting the legal battle is no one from his family, but a lawyer who took up the case seeing the inhumane ‘conversion’ process Kabir has been going through. In fact, it was his family that threw him into the dark, shabby room of the rehab in order to ‘cure’ him from his severe ‘disease’: homosexuality.

Kabir didn’t know that what he was feeling when he was going through his adolescence was actually a sin in the Holy book, a crime before the law, and a disgusting practice for the society. So when he expressed his love for a fellow classmate he was rebuked, scolded, and shunned. Finding no other solace, he sought refuge to the Hijra (transgender) community, which at least didn’t hate him for who he was. But his parents thought this to be too shameful for their well maintained social image and one day dragged him to a rehab. Since then he has spent more than a year in that jail undergoing the ‘conversion therapies’, which made him a criminal, a sinner and a psycho patient even more day by day. Kabir still can’t fathom what wrong he actually did! Was it just because of his mere love for another human being who turns out to be having a penis too? Kabir felt lost and lonely.

The above story is not just the story of one Kabir. There are thousand such Kabirs in every country who are struggling to come into terms with their sexuality and looking for a sense of belonging. In Bangladesh, such a struggle is ever harder since the orthodox Muslim society leaves no space for the queer minds to breathe. Let alone homosexuality, it is even a taboo to talk about sex and sexuality in the public domain. Hence, it is no surprise that a majority of the budding youth society of Bangladesh feels extremely isolated and frustrated.

Keeping that in mind, Boys of Bangladesh (BoB) started its journey seven years back to provide a safe space for like-minded-youths to come together, learn, and share from each other, and ultimately find a place where they can truly belong. BoB organizes regular social events which affirms positive notion of sexuality and celebrates the wide diversity within. As a result, what started as a mere online group of a few young men is now the largest network of self identified gay men, with more than 2000 members.

3 responses to “Longing, Belonging, & Identity: Young Gay Men in Bangladesh

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