A few years ago a friend of ours visited us with his boyfriend, who was a pharmacist from Pakistan. During our weekend together, we had many interesting discussions about the differences between being gay in Pakistan and being gay in the U.S. The differences are astounding on some levels, and not so much on others.
In thinking about this post, I ran across a blogger who had these interesting things to say:
In her acclaimed book The Dancing Girls of Lahore, British author Louise Brown made the following observation: "Homosexuality is derided in public, but it is accepted, provided it remains a secret. The men involved in homosexual acts don’t perceive themselves to be homosexual, and the men’s families won’t perceive them to be homosexual either...Having sex with other men or boys is not associated with stigma providing a man takes a dominant role in sexual encounters. It may even reinforce a man’s masculinity and status because he is sexually dominating others. It is the receptive partner who is despised and ridiculed."
The site further states, "the Pakistan embassy in Hague making it clear that "the homosexual is not accepted as a decent individual, and homosexual acts constitute an offense punishable with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years."
My favorite moment of the weekend was when we were walking down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. He walked along with wide eyes, exclaiming things like, "Look! They are holding hands in the public!" or "There are so many gays here all at once!" At one point, after exiting the "Out of the Closet" thrift store, he shouted at the top of the lungs into the street full of traffic, "WE ARE GAYS! WE ARE GAYS!" It made me laugh. It also made me tear up.
Sure, our country has a long way to go in eliminating hatred and prejudice and the unequal treatment of all citizens. But I, for one, am grateful to live in a place that I can be open about who I am and live without the fear under which so many in the world must function.
This episode originally aired in March, 2008.