3.24.2009

Voices From the Community: Cruising, Blackmail, and Guns

"As a gay, Muslim teenager growing up in a posh area of Karachi, Pakistan, I struggled to hide from my family the fact that I was attracted to other men. I immersed myself in literature, and as a precocious ninth grader I produced and acted in George Bernard Shaw's farce "Passion, Poison and Petrifaction," a play whose title unconsciously expressed my nervous view of the Pakistani world outside my cocoon. Looking for an exit, I was a superachiever in a hurry. At 18, I earned a scholarship to Stanford University. I should have made a clean break then. But all through college I dated women, willing myself to be "normal." Not surprisingly, my attraction to men didn't wane.

In grad school, I was ready for adventure and decided to spend a summer back home researching rural-development projects. I worked with a local social worker, a handsome, bearded man who liked to flirt. We'd sit together under the sun discussing politics, while I observed his body under his diaphanous kurta shalwar. Knowing he was married, I didn't dare make a move.

One evening I drove to a park known for being Karachi's unofficial cruising spot for gay men. Within a few minutes I noticed a burly man with a heavy mustache in his late 30s gesturing toward me. My heart was pounding as he approached. "I have a place we can go," he said, and we started walking toward the park's exit, visions of a forbidden tryst flashing in my mind.

In my air-conditioned car he gave me driving directions. Looking around, he suddenly sneered, "This is a very nice, expensive car." I started getting nervous. He didn't touch me. He gave no signals.

We arrived at the entrance to a dingy house and entered the driveway. He locked the gate behind us, told me to wait in the car and disappeared into the house. I was sweating profusely now and wondered, "Can I still get out of this situation?" Five minutes later he came out, visibly angry now, sat in the car and pointed a gun at me. He said he was an undercover cop and that inside the house were several men waiting to rape me to teach me a lesson. "What is wrong with people like you?" he yelled maniacally. "You should like girls, or you will be treated like one."

My lust had transformed into immobilizing fear. He told me to drive again, and as we drove around for what seemed like hours, I had a vague sense that I needed to play his game and find a way to survive this ordeal. He demanded that I admit homosexuality was a sin, and I eventually complied. I also promised to meet him at a hotel the following day, where he would tell me how much money he wanted. He warned me that he had my car's license-plate number, and that he'd track me down if I didn't show."

Read the rest of the story at Out of the Closet, At Gunpoint

7 comments:

Ian said...

Wow, thanks for linking to this article.

libhom said...

Corruption using heterosexism as its excuse. That is hardly limited to Pakistan.

Gay Rights said...

Oh my God! This is a quite extreme example, but I hope your experience as a gay man is not always so traumatizing. I like to think that not all straight people are so vicious as the man you described, but I hope that did not taint your view of being gay from then on.

Andy Heath

fictionalautobiography said...

I hope you were alright after that and the experience did not haunt you too much.............

JAHANA said...
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rosy said...
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Desiboy said...

I think your experiences are so typical of queer men in Pakistan. A real relationship is impossible here, and one night stands will land you in trouble in no time at all. It's sad that so many gay Pakistanis are unable to return home because of traumatic experiences.