At the age of 24 years old in 2004, Hasina came face to face with a life altering truth– she was a bisexual.
Coming out to myself is an extremely liberating experience, but also terrified me to my core. I immediately felt a plethora of emotions hitting me simultaneously. I felt excitement because I finally knew who I was; denial because this truth can’t be true; and confusion because I was not sure how to make sense of the learned beliefs and values relating to homosexuality from my multiple identities (religion, ethnic community and country of residence).
If I embraced this truth, I didn’t know if I would belong in my religious and ethnic communities. Those were two communities played pivotal roles in my life for nearly 35 years. To make matters more complex, I didn’t see prominent bisexual people of colour in my spheres of belonging or in society, I assumed being bisexual was wrong and not normal.
All of this is was overwhelming and compounded further because society taught me to repress my emotions. Not knowing how to proceed, I ignored my newly discovered truth.
Hiding to fit in and be loved
During the initial stages of figuring out my sexual orientation, I often felt embarrassed. I realized I was different from most people in society. Standing in my own space alone felt lonely. One option that felt enticing during that time was to play a double personality where I watched what I said in public so I could blend into society. Initially this seems manageable, but as years went by, I felt more and more resentment building inside of me. The more I repressed my feelings, the more they arose with more intensity and flare. This was my soul’s way of crying for help. It bothered me that in society there was space for heterosexuals to be and act freely without having to ponder the consequences. In my world, I was constantly watching what I did rather than doing what felt true to me.
After 10 years of being in the closet, I suffered to the point where I metaphorically couldn’t breath. This was my breaking point and I committed to changing my circumstances at all costs.
I recognized that who I am matters and that I don’t need to hide.
Journey of self-acceptance
Armed with courage and determination, I started the journey of coming out to myself first and then my family. Initially, I didn’t know what to do as there was no one way to come out. I decided to take a first step by seeking help from a professional counsellor who helped me make sense of my emotions, taught me a language to communicate my emotions, answered my questions around my sexual orientation and helped me explore the best way to come out given my circumstances.
After a couple months of counselling, I felt it would be beneficial for me to create a tribe with like-minded people. I attended personal growth workshops where I shared openly what I was going through, learned how to be a better version of myself and saw that I wasn’t alone on this journey. I was also able to make a new circle of friends. The experience was beyond transformational.
At the same time, I created safe spaces in my world where I could share openly what I was going through and feeling. Examples of safe spaces included connecting with close friends and joining online LGBTQ2 support groups. I soon realized that being different was my strength and not my weakness.
With a new found acceptance of my self and an increased level of confidence, I was able to come out to my immediate family in January 2016, extended family and friends in December 2016. Overall, the reaction was positive which warmed my heart. A few individuals took some time to come around which made sense as each person I came out to needed to go through their own coming out journey.
Going through the coming out process was like riding a roller coaster with many ups and downs. Navigating through my emotions was challenging at times as it wasn’t my norm until recently. In the end, the process was worth it because I am able to be myself in all spheres of my life.
Who am I today
Coming out shifted my world from being dark to colour. I was able to build relationships in my life that were authentic and based on honesty. I was able to create a spiritual practice that was fulfilling for me.
Now that I’ve come out it doesn’t mean that I won’t face challenges going forward. Just like everyone, I face my share of difficulties in life and some of them are due to my sexual orientation. I now have more assuredness to face those detours along the journey of life hopefully with the support of some allies.