Category Archives: queer

Self-Care in a Violent Life

A bunch of us DY-affiliated people just got together after a bit of a hiatus and started arguing with each other. I mean, we reunited, made jokes, were joyful and all that, but then we began to argue and get on each other’s nerves and, ultimately, hurt each other. And now we’ve withdrawn, sore, sad and trepidatious.

We are queers in a fucked up place*. Sabeen Mahmud was assassinated in April. A bus full of Ismailis were massacred in May.  It’s June and this morning’s tally of the death toll in Karachi’s heat wave is over 1000, a function of bad city planning, rampant capitalism, environmental degradation and criminal neglect.

Recently there was a news piece that claimed two men were getting married in Balochistan and have been arrested for it; that they told the police they were just kidding, but now they’re in jail; that a “medical exam” showed that they had had sex. What an innocuous, opaque term for such a violation.

These things require thought, planning, strategy, and action. We do that fairly well, considering. What we do not do is realise the fundamental reality of our lives:

We are queers in a fucked up place. We are queers amidst deep structural violence. Our lives are violent. Our lives are daily violated. And our lives are violative of other lives.

In order to do the work we want to do, we need to care for ourselves and for each other, and that requires acknowledging that living this life fucks us up. Being queer here, now, in this moment of globally rising fascisms, we are assaulted every day by misery, our own and others’, and the promise that those that have come for them will soon come for us, or are already on their way.

So we need to take care of ourselves. Be kind. Be open. Sleep enough. Eat enough. Stay healthy. Stay happy. Focus on what is joyful, because what is not joyful already has our rapt attention. Remember what we love about each other, because what we don’t love of each other adds to the burden we carry.

We live our queer, same-sex loving, closet-peek-a-boo-ing, gender bending, slut/fat-shaming, slut/fat-reveling, complicated and unimaginable lives everyday. We are here.

Which is a beautiful and unimaginable thing.


* I would say world, which is absolutely true. But it’s also very vague and large and unhelpful. I’m not suggesting that this place is more fucked up. Only that this is the fucked-up-ness I’m currently interested in talking about. 


In Pakistan, queer people are not “normal”. We are not part of the norm. Nobody’s campaigning for marriage equality; nobody’s leading a pride parade; you rarely see a rainbow flag. Queers are marginalized, made invisible and/or mocked, as the situation requires.

So we forget that to be “normal”, you have to support patriarchal marriage, fixed gender roles, the intervention of the state in everyday life, monogamy and existing norms of morality. The project of LGBT activism as is popularly available to us is that of including queers into the existing system.

The existing system, however, is patriarchal, heterosexist, capitalistic, exploitative and imperialistic. There is no reason to want to become a full member of that club. It’s like walking up to one of those clubs that used to say, “No dogs or Indians allowed,” and saying, “Let me in, I’m not a dog.” The rules of the club were already not made for you and they were made to exclude a lot of other people. If the club lets you in, you just become one of the assholes who made, condoned and hid behind the sign in the first place.

So there’s no need to be normal.

Normal is fucked. I’m happy to be queer. Queer is not normal.

Jim Crow sign