Across Continents

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Going over to the other side

October 14th, 2011

He’d been married. Many years ago. When that was the sort of thing you did. Or at least were expected to do. But now, he explained, he’d gone over to the other side. For a moment I thought he meant some sort of religious experience. The expression taking me quite by surprise. But no. He’d simply chosen to recognise his sexuality for what it was, no longer having to live a lie, trying to deceiving himself as much as others.

There were a few rednecks who were apt to make derogative mutterings. But easily dealt with, he explained. Just ask if their aggressive was an effort to mask their own repressed feelings. Worked particularly well, he added, in the presence of others. I explained I struggled to grasp the concept of same-sex attraction, but recognised that for others it was a perfectly natural thing.

We’d met when I’d pulled up at a rest stop on the edge of a small town. He’d joined me, keen to chat I thought. Friendly enough. Perhaps share thoughts he might be reluctant to part with if I were local.

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Hidden worlds

September 7th, 2010

Quite by chance I’d stumbled across the gay and lesbian community during my travels through Central Asia. Whilst same sex relationships are not illegal in the countries I’d passed through, they are far from socially acceptable.

A hidden world, quite unfamiliar to me, tolerated in the cities by predominantly Muslim societies, the odd clue in listings magazines, clubs that drift around between venues, a brief mention in the guide book, little else. Places where one might meet, discreetly, even if the location is sometimes quite public.

Denied the de-facto freedom of expression of identity taken for granted in most Western societies, family pressure to conform to accepted norms, and the result? Shell marriages, even emigration to more tolerant nations. Terribly sad.

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