THE PARADOX OF NORMALITY : Celebrating the pride month

Normal : conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected

Malaysia, 2018

Naveen was out celebrating with a friend, known only as Previn, after quitting his job so he could move to Kuala Lumpur and begin University the following day.It is believed that the two friends ran into two classmates who had consistently bullied Naveen in the past for being “effeminate” and “gay”.Reports say that six more people then turned up on motorcycles and all eight began to beat the two using helmets.Previn managed to escape to Penang Hospital where he was treated for crushed cheekbones.His sexuality is unknown, but a former teacher said that he was often targeted and bullied in school because many people thought he was gay.“He was soft but not gay, that is for sure. But he paid no mind to those boys and ignored them. But these boys (bullies) had their agenda, which was to make Naveen a ‘macho man’ based on their ideals,” the teacher said.

Mexico City, 2018

Nikolle Contreras says she is about to make her third attempt to cross into the United States — her first since she came out as a woman. And one way or another, she says it will be her last.She tried to cross the border for the first time in 2016, she said. She tried again the following year, attempting to swim across the river from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. She nearly drowned, she says, and spent two days in a coma. After a brief hospital stay, she was detained and deported back to her native country of Honduras.
After she returned, she decided to start living openly as a transgender woman. It didn’t take long for her to realize that, in order to continue doing so, she needed to leave Honduras — one of the most dangerous countries in the world for transgender people — even though it would mean leaving her beloved family.”I’m making this trip out of necessity, you could say,” she said .”Discrimination because of my sexuality, lack of work, discrimination within my own family for being gay and worse, for being a trans person,” she said. “It’s very, very difficult.”

This is the reality of the World today for the LGBT community. 2017 was indeed a grim year for their rights worldwide.Imagine having to flee your own country because of being persecuted for who you are and for who you love Imagine reaching Europe and being locked up in a detention centre at constant risk of being assaulted. Imagine having to restart your life in a foreign country, in poverty, and at risk of being sexually exploited. Even in their own countries, the US government withdrew protection for transgender students under Title IX in February, and issued a directive stating that transgender people are not protected from employment discrimination.President Donald Trump issued a memorandum barring transgender people from serving in the military, although this has been blocked by courts and contradicted in practice.The brutal consequence of intensified homophobia orchestrated or facilitated by agents of the state was evident in Azerbaijan, Russia’s Chechen Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Tajikistan, and Tanzania. Since 2013, the Egyptian government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has systematically arrested gay and bisexual men and transgender women, with several hundred imprisoned for same-sex conduct. In September 2017, the police conducted a new wave of arrests after revelers at the acclaimed Mashrou’ Leila concert displayed a rainbow flag.In April, news broke of a wide-scale purge against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.Annual survey results in Britain and France  revealed significant increases in bias-motivated attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.In Turkey, the governor of Ankara imposed an indefinite ban on all public LGBT events in the province.

In 72 countries, same-sex relationships are currently criminalized. In eight, they are punishable by death. But in many others, social norms, traditions and customs make life for LGBT people equally impossible, even if the law is not officially against them.

Why is it so? Why is it not “normal”? What is normality anyways? Who decides this normality that we base our values on? Normality is subjectivity. Normality is a crowd sourced fantasy that turns every single person into an enemy.  It’s funny how we categorise things as normal and not normal when normality is a paradox in itself. If we look beyond this categorization, why can’t we accept just humans? Homo sapiens,70% water, 7% blood, no matter who they are or whom they love.

So as we move into June, the pride month, let’s be there, be an ally. Being an ally is about more than silent acceptance. It’s about being there for your lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbours.It’s about striving to understand their experiences, and helping them to understand yours. It’s about supporting one another in times of need. It’s about setting a positive example for others. And most importantly, it’s about creating a more inclusive and loving society where everyone is valued, no matter who they are or whom they love.

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