The concept of identity/identities of sexual and gender diverse population has been traditionally ignored in Bangladesh. The general misconception of so-called heterosexual people has often made most of them fail to understand diverse identities. But we need to ask ourselves first that is it necessary for us to understand diverse identities? If yes, then why? One may state that it might be difficult for a heterosexual individual to understand the worldview of a queer individual. Some would argue that it is nothing but an excuse to elude the willingness to understand diverse identities. However we also have to entertain the fact that a heterosexual person may find it difficult or different while trying to understand the worldview of a queer person. So, we all request to our communities that at least try to give effort to understand rather ignoring or humiliating a human being. Every individual has their own way of interpretation of life and different nature of worldview. Therefore it is necessary for every person in the community to understand the versatile nature of identities in our society. In Bangladeshi society, masculinity has also played a big role in defining identities because it often influences discriminating behavior amongst queer individuals. For example, recently I have heard from a friend that if a woman becomes a trans-man and a man becomes Hijra (trans-woman) then the trans-man would start to act like as a more dominating person than the trans-woman. This sort of conflict of understanding each other is not very helpful. This conflict also refers that not only heterosexual people but also a trans-man may struggle to understand the worldview of a trans-woman or vice versa.
In contemporary societies, binary (only male and female) way of defining identities should not apply anymore. For example, I have seen a Hijra (Trans-woman) acting as a female model in video songs, which one may appreciate because a queer person has been given the opportunity to be a model. But why do they have to act as a binary (female) role model? Thus we still fail to imply non-binary way of thinking even though we are trying to employ queer individuals at work. Although we are trying to ‘show off’ that we are treating everyone equally but actually we are not, on the contrary we are misleading our thoughts of understanding the concept of diverse identities. When it comes to define identities, we need to understand that identity is ‘diverse’, which means every individual may bear different layers of sexual identity in different time and contexts. I personally believe that not only queer individuals but also every heterosexual person may or might have ‘diverse’ identities. If one may overcome the hatred to look deep and inside for their own identities then every individual would find diversity or layers of identities inside them. For example, recently I have met a person who is biologically a man but they have discovered that there is also a woman inside them who is actually non-straight. So there are three different layers of their identities, a) a biological man, b) a woman inside, and c) non-straight woman. They also mentioned that it took them about 40 years to discover the layers of their identities. Therefore when I say ‘so-called heterosexual’, I mean to say that are they really heterosexual? Or they are diverse too?
We (Oboyob) are a group of diverse individuals in Bangladesh working to increase awareness regarding sexual and gender diverse identities. As a virtual organization, we are aimed to demonstrate visual art as advocacy campaign material. As a part of this aim, we have recently initiated a campaign called ‘Love That Connects People’ that will represent a series of short stories to celebrate love, life and worldview of queer individuals in Bangladesh. We believe this campaign will affect on the level of understanding and awareness of mass people about diverse nature of identities. Therefore, we would like to request everyone to support this project and make a contribution by clicking on ‘Back this project’ in the campaign website: https://www.pinkstart.me/en/oboyobgraphicanthology