TW: Self Harm
“My teacher told me to walk like the man I was in front of the whole class. So I told her to act like the teacher she was. She apologised the next day. I never stood silent in the face of bullying so I escaped many childhood bullies with ease. My family knew I was gay and were okay with it. It was all working out well for me until I reached high school. I had had a crush on a boy since middle school, and now that I was in High School I really wanted to ask him out. But I was not out to the world about my sexuality so I didn’t know how. In a moment of rash judgement, I created a fake account, posing to be a girl, and sent him a friend request. Within the next few weeks, we were dating online. My persona attracted him to a point that he couldn’t make out that I was actually a boy, not even over the phone. But not a day was spent where I didn’t fear that he’d find out that I’d lied to him. I didn’t want him to find out.

But of course, he did. And things got very bad very fast. His sister uploaded my picture on social media and told the world the story of how I’d catfished him on Facebook. By the time I saw this post, it had been shared over 100 times. I didn’t even dare read the comments. Next, my parents and I ended up at the police station. My parents somehow settled the charges with some compensation amount paid to the boy. I felt numb with shame and guilt. I ran from home and stayed at my cousin’s place. I had let down my parents and caused them shame. I had also hurt the boy I liked. I tried slashing my wrists but failed. I then ran away to Qatar. My parents were utterly shocked. Mom called every day and cried, and I did my best to convince her that I was safe. Things did eventually settle down. I didn’t know how long I could stay away from home, carrying this guilt and staying away from people I loved. After a year and half of working and hiding out in Qatar, I decided to return for vacation. The pandemic hit and I have been home ever since.

The one safe place I found through all this was dancing. When I performed, I felt less ashamed, less guilty. The attention and respect I found from people when they saw me perform slightly replaced the suspicion people gave me wherever I went after that post on Facebook. I also had text messages from young gay people who said they felt inspired to be themselves when they saw me dance. I also received a message from the boy I had catfished. He apologised for taking things too far. I cannot blame him, I had a part to play. But his message gave me some peace, finding his forgiveness was the second most important to me. The first was finding my own.”

Stories like this can be read in many different ways. This young gay man resorted to faking his own identity online, because of societal norms and boundaries. This pride month, Humans of Thimphu celebrates equality of individual identity with Pride Bhutan: “Celebrating Diversity” .

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