[Editor’s Note: A couple of weeks ago, Ajay Sathyan wrote a troubling account of his life within the LGBT community. Pink Freud responds to his article.]
I have been asked to reply to your letter and to give a perspective from a psychological point of view. Looking at discrimination within the community, I believe there are many who feel isolated, and left out among their own…by their own.
Half way through your article I felt tired, annoyed, let down. After reading the entire thing I felt most of all sorry for people who hold that much despair and anger towards other human beings. But then I thought about what you said, started to place myself in your shoes and read it again looking at it through a different lens and reflected on it.
There is a lot of stereotyping going on in the article. Yes, of course there are plenty of stereotypical LGBT’s out there who are proud of who they are, even if it is misplaced pride. They feel the need to show off after having lived a lie for such a long time. You don’t seem to be identifying with them and that is ok, we can’t be friends with everybody.
I do feel indeed annoyed that they have treated you in such a way, there is no need for such exclusion, and my feeling is that they felt threatened by you as you probably came across as a confident and ‘knows what he is talking about’ kind a guy. It is a very immature response to treat ‘one of our own’ like that. As the community is so small and so looked down at we should understand and help each other. I can clearly understand your counter reaction to all of this.
There are many groups that can be stereotyped, including LGBT groups, that I or most people don’t identify themselves with. For example I don’t want to hang out with football hooligans, gangs or people who don’t look after themselves. I stay well away from them, gay or straight. I don’t try to mix with them knowing that they are not like me. It sounds like you are happy with your straight friends who are accepting of who you are, which is great. You have found the ‘group’ you identify yourself with.
I guess we all want to be accepted in the community for who we are. The people featured in the article clearly have not had this stability in their lives for being accepted for who they are and feel that they need to stick together. That way they can make a noise and raise awareness for ‘equal rights’.
It disheartens me when I hear things like: “gay friends or relationships will never work”. If that would be the case, who do we have to blame for that? Should we not start with ourselves and work our way out from the circles we live in? If this is the attitude then it certainly isn’t going to work and we set ourselves up for failure from the start. There are plenty of people out there who have great friends and or great relationships, within the LGBT community. Not all of these will sustain but that is nothing different compared to the ‘straight world’.
Looking at it through a different lens I guess it all starts with our culture, there are 3 circles of culture we live in:
The inner circle represents us as individuals. We have to understand ourselves, our needs and what makes us tick.
The middle circle represents our immediate family. We receive messages/instructions/religion through these channels when growing up.
The outer circle represents the society we live in. They provide us with input of how to live in a community and how to stand and stay strong together.
When growing up the arrows point inwards, it forms and influences us till we are late teenagers. From that point we start to look out and challenge the way we have been brought up, then the arrows start pointing outwards.
In your case, it seems you had done a full circle and you were looking back inwards again. You seemed to have challenged your mediate family and your society but didn’t feel you belonged. And then you felt you belonged to a different society. After inspecting the new society you couldn’t identify with them either and seemed to have ended up feeling alone in the inner circle.
I am however happy for you that you have managed to get out again and that you kept looking till you found your own life, friends and society. It seems that you have a stable group of friends and that is what is important in our lives as we don’t get very far without them.
You answered your own question if you should be proud to celebrate your pride or not. I feel that the community has let you down and I completely understand your reaction. Although I do want to ask you, and everybody else, don’t look at individuals within the LGBT community and treat them the same because of the label. We are all different and fighting our own battles in different ways.