Published in The Nepali Man on 28 February 2015
A failed affair often leaves one cold.
No point getting into it too much. But I owe it to the readers to provide a closure to my previous column, which was titled “Waiting”. Let’s just say that the five-day romance with the model crashed in mid-air. Like one of those twin otters making its way in the mid hills. We knew that the terrain was rough. It required sensible navigation. Instead, thick monsoon clouds suddenly appeared from nowhere, blocking our vision. In addition, there was precipitation - icy text messages, Viber exchanges as hazardous as hail and sleet. We didn’t stand a chance. There was too much against us. A premium cause, obviously, was the fact that he was a closet case.
The darkness of the closet, as many of you might understand, not only hides but muffles, confuses, represses and hurts. In some cases, may inflict a daily dose of pain. Are you hurting as you are reading this? You - that one reader who is lurking somewhere in this city - I’m asking you. It hurts, right?
Rather than mull over the failed affair, I thought it might be worthwhile to explore the closet’s darkness. So I have been developing a theory. Broadly speaking, there are three different levels of acceptance of one’s sexuality; and, as a corollary, three different levels of being in the closet. I’ll call it the mind-body-spirit theory.
It makes sense to start with the spirit. These are men whose minds and bodies are open. They understand homosexuality; they love having anonymous sex with men. They may have even come out to a friend or two. But they probably will think of this as a phase and bow down to society. Most of them will convince themselves that they are bi - Sure, I can have sex with a woman - and eventually get married. Most Nepali boys on Grindr fall into this category. Their minds and bodies may be out, but their spirits are somewhat trapped in the closet. Some of them may just need time or a steady job so that they can fully release their spirit. For example, once they are financially independent.
Or perhaps they are abroad. Unable to be mind-body-spirit free in Nepal, they flee in order to construct a carefully guarded life in the West. They may even shack up with a man, but they will never talk to their family openly. They will carefully guard their Facebook friend list. Some have more than one profile. They may lead successful lives for the most part. But mixed in it, undoubtedly, is a healthy dose of fear. They also walk along a thin political line. If a few of them, gradually, start coming out, talk about who they are - in other words, release their spirit fully into the universe - it would benefit a lot of other men who have locked not only their spirits but their bodies and minds. I use the term ‘political’ because being out and proud and open is the only way to influence traditional societal mindsets in a country like Nepal.
A little pause before moving forward because this is ambiguous territory. I am a bit uncomfortable at completely separating these three entities because obviously there is a lot of interplay here. The complex ways in which our minds, bodies and spirits interact make us who we are, lend each one of us our unique personalities and thought processes. But please bear with me for a bit.
The second category has men who are more confused, a bit bewildered. You may have realized by now that the quality of your (psycho-emotional) life is directly proportional to your level of acceptance. The men who fall into this category have their spirits and bodies in the closet; meaning, you will never openly discuss it with your close friends and family even though you know it’s natural. Even though your mind, to a certain extent, is open. You just don’t want to bother going there, articulating, defending, discussing, because you live in a place like Nepal. Society will throw you to the dogs. Call you names. Fine, you might as well get married to a woman. You are the ones trolling chat rooms online, desperate for sex, but you are so afraid at being found out that you will rarely meet anyone. Even if you do, the sex may be laced with fear, hence unsatisfying. In this way, you will deny yourself basic bodily pleasures. You are tormented, swimming in murky territory. You have a lot of guilt. You have locked both your body and your spirit in the closet.
Then there is that unfortunate lot who are completely in the dark. Fully repressed. It’s not only their bodies and spirits, but also their minds. If your mind is in the closet, the very thought of being attracted to the same sex repulses you. You might be religious and consider it morally wrong. You may think there is something innately wrong with you. You will grab every opportunity to pursue a straight lifestyle. Sure, you’ll get married, even successfully (forced, without real desire) have sex with your wife. Reports of gay men like these who are actively homophobic are also common. Some of these men are the biggest defenders of heteronormativity. They will speak out against gay lifestyle, publicly harass and humiliate anyone who appears to be against the norm.
Various kinds of psycho emotional maladies are associated with being in the closet. The maladies are somewhat proportional to your levels of repression - is it just your spirit, both body and spirit or all three? Repressions of any kind lead to outbursts because these are not sustainable. Our psyche cannot contain them. So even the third kind - all three aspects repressed - will find opportunities for release. They may get really drunk in order to have sex with men. They may make elaborate plans to get away just for sex and never talk to anyone about it. They will try to even not think about it. Erase it from their memories.
As I implied earlier, what I have outlined above is simplistic. Just one way of looking at things. Sexuality is hazy, difficult to put a finger on. According to Alfred Kinsey, who developed the Kinsey Scale, most men are not exclusively homosexual or heterosexul, but rather fall into a realm (0 being exclusively heterosexual and 6 being exclusively homosexual). Our innate levels of sexual desire also varies; some people can be quite asexual and may be happy with a loving partner without caring so much for sex. But it is important to understand this and try as much as possible to come to terms with it, to express your desires with your friends and lovers. As you may have guessed, my model’s mind and body were free. He enjoyed sex; he liked taking night walks with me along my neighborhood’s alleys. He even kissed me at a dark street corner. He even considered being together. Once, briefly, he expressed that he wanted to be my boyfriend, that he had always imagined living an adventurous, independent life. But he could not take that step. He could not do it. He did not have the mental strength to face the consequences. His spirit was still in the closet.