As I was writing my Blog Tember Challenge talking about Westlife I had two flashbacks. One was of me, sitting in a room at the house in Lahore I grew up in, lying on the bed with the room locked, music on full volume. The other was an image of the girl who tortured me that my beloved band was just a group of gays who wore ponchos.
Let me explain.
I was very naive and not nearly as confident. Living in Pakistan, one can not always grow up to be accepting and open towards homosexuality. Of course, I’m more opinionated now. I wasn’t so much back then.
The first time she asked me what kind of music I listened to, I didn’t even think it was possible for her to make me feel bad about the fact that I loved Westlife. This girl wasn’t necessarily a bitch. I think she did it because she wanted to make fun of me because you know it’s easier to make fun of someone you know won’t respond.
“You like Westlife? Hahaha, they’re all gay!”
“Yeah, I saw them wearing Ponchos in a video.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“They were wearing lipstick too.”
Now, the whole class laughed at me because I was a fan of grown up men wearing lipsticks and ponchos in a video. Images of Kian wearing my new blue Poncho filled my head. I didn’t wear that Poncho for a month.
I was a bit skeptical of her information since I had never seen them acting remotely feminine. But I was worried-sick. What if she was right? What would others think of me?
I didn’t have internet at home then so I had to wait a week to visit the Computer Lab at school to find out if they really were filming videos as cross dressers. One week, seven days that I spent in pure agony thinking over and over again of how and what people will think of me or say to me. Now that I look back on it, it was a form of bullying, but slightly different.
Finally, when it was time to access the internet, an all answering mechanism that would rid me of my worries, I made sure I did it in private. I didn’t want it to be true and I didn’t want anyone to see it either if it was true.
It wasn’t. And there is no such video.
I was relieved and happily sang about how wrong she had been. She didn’t seemed bother. She did what she wanted to. She had accomplished making fun of me. Her work was done.
Many years after that, I discovered Adam Lambert. Rumors of him being homosexual circulated after his third performance on the Idol stage. I still remember it. It was an middle-eastern version of “The Ring of Fire”. It wasn’t Adam Lambert’s best performance but different.
That performance was the a turning point for me. I had two options: I could accept that Adam is gay and choose not to like him anymore. Or I could accept Adam for who he is and continue being a fan anyway. I don’t know what happened but after making my decision, his sexuality was always secondary to me. His angelic voice coupled with a wonderful, inspiring personality was what mattered the most. It was always Adam Lambert: The singer first. Not Adam Lambert: They gay singer.
Years, later I was to find out that Mark Feehily, from Westlife came out. Turns out, Aminah was probably right. Too bad it didn’t matter anymore.
And to this day, I remain a fan. Of Adam’s voice, his art, his work and lyrics.
Because of Adam Lambert, I learned that sexuality isn’t everything. I realized that if we were so caught up in our own little worlds, restricted by rules and regulations based on no rational concepts, we’d be wasting our bloody time not recognizing wonderfully talented people. We’d be wasting our time missing on the really good stuff. The stuff that matter. The people that matter. All because we were too proud of our religion and too engrossed in how we looked at the world. Because we were afraid to question the teaching given to us by parents, family and school. People who know me know that I’m very supportive of gay rights. A lot of them it’s because I am gay.
I grew up in Pakistan, where gays are still closeted to this day. Why shouldn’t they be? Why should someone like me even urge them to be open? So that they’d have to face hatred, taunts and insults? So only to be welcomed by a non-welcoming attitude? No, thank you. I think they are fine just the way they are. I do hope Pakistan and it’s people adopt a more open and equal approach towards basic human rights.
But maybe, just maybe if I, one person in a crowd of hundred would believe in homosexuals and transgender people, treat them like I would just any other human, maybe we’d be a step closer to change.
I’m glad I have changed. Yes, I would now totally cheer for Adam if he turns up wearing a Poncho. Or Lipstick. Or both. God knows he can pull anything off. I’m a fan of grown men in lipsticks. Heck, I’m a fan of grown men in a red fur coats.
Thank you, Adam Lovely Lambert, for changing my views on sexuality.