Awkward moment when Afghans say they’re down with the LGBTQ community. Y’all werent last week. Now listen, I am NOT trying to knock anybody’s solidarity or their intentions. I actually know of a LOT of Afghans who INDIVIDUALLY and PRIVATELY support the LGBTQ community and are for same-sex marriage. Not super gung-ho supporting it, but in a “Ba Ma Chi?” (what is it to me?) fashion. But collectively coming together to make statements of solidarity like we are now? Outwardly telling our stories of gay solidarity? We realllllly rushing now to publish those statements aren’t we? Well we have a big problem and its been hiding in the closet for a long ass time. And that silence turns into violence. It’s time we recognize and love queer Afghans.
The evidence is now coming out that Omar Mateen may have been gay. This adds even more layers of nuances on top of his already speculated support of ISIS. But let’s just say, for the purposes of the message I’m trying to convey to my peoples, that he did this only because he was gay. Because he was gay, and in self-denial, and in so much pain and despair, knowing that he would be never accepted in our Afghan American community. That it may go as far as ex-communication. He woke up every morning knowing he could not live out his truth. He married two times and even had a son, while secretly going on Grindr and frequenting gay bars. He went as far as to ask another man out, and even then, was rejected. All while being from an extremely homophobic and patriarchal culture.
Our community has not yet created a safe space for queer Afghan folk. We’re all in solidarity and we’re all allies now – but before that we’ve been ignoring the excommunicated queer Afghan youth. The time is now. We have lowdown Afghan guys who partake in raqasa-watching or the disgusting practice of bacha-bazee and we call them “coonies“, but even these men are somehow given a pass. But nothing that is a safe, welcoming space for LGBTQ Afghans who are only seeking to live their truth. If this Afghan dude was so distraught over his sexuality that he felt the need to go to a damn club and kill a bunch of people that he may be lowkey jealous of because they had the freedom to live their truths – we have a big problem. If Mateen felt isolated enough to the point of this type of psychopathy? Now I’m not saying that every homosexual Afghan will go on a shooting rampage for being rejected by our community, but once is more than enough y’all.
I am sick of seeing quotes from the Qur’an condemning homosexuals. I am sick of hearing Afghan guys playfully call each other “coonies”. I am sick of knowing LGBTQ Afghans who do not show up to family events because they know no one will greet them. It is time to love people regardless of who they are.
I am checking myself here too. I have been a lifetime supporter of the LGBTQ community, from having gay BFF’s in high school to serving as president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at LAVC for one semester. But that is not enough. I purposefully had silenced my support of this community when I began to socialize more heavily with Afghans and Muslims. Not because I was ashamed, but because I did not want to deal with the potential backlash. I recognized my community is pretty homophobic and just decided I did not want to even engage in that conversation with a group that was not “ready” to talk about homophobia.
If there ever was a time, it is now. Queer Afghans are Afghan. The same way you and me fear for our lives outside of our home because of how we look, they fear for their lives inside and outside the home because of their orientation. And then on TOP of that, they fear for their lives because of their ancestry. Theirs oppression is nuanced, and hetero Afghans are privileged for avoiding this layered oppression.
Now I’m not saying if are 100% against homosexuality, for you to wake up and become an ally. But do we really have to go out of our way to make people feel bad? If your supposed religious beliefs lead you to believe all homosexuals are an abomination….do you have to shove it down everyone else’s throats?
I am extremely happy to see this conversation beginning in our community. It is time to unpack the hyper-masculinity in our culture, it is time to address the violence. It is time to make sure we are making each other feel safe instead of left out. We can’t ever afford to shut someone out again.