16 November, 2018

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Dear Mr. President: Letter From A Sri Lankan Queer Woman

By Aloka Wijesinghe

Aloka Wijesinghe

Mr. President, 

As I was going home after lectures yesterday [Monday 5th November 2018], I had to wait in Malabe from 12.45 PM to 8.00 PM, because of your rally at Diyatha. On social media, I noticed a couple of friends of mine being boldly and bravely vocal about remarks you made during your speech. When I browsed through a couple of articles, I just said to myself, “Wait, I’m just an 18 year old and I never had a thing for politics unless it affected my right to live, I mean I’m neither a fan of Ranil Wickremesinghe nor of Mahinda Rajapaksa, I’m done with all these useless rallies where people from far away towns have to come to Colombo on buses and block the roads so students like us have to forget going home or worse, find a place to stay in the road, but in hindsight I bet homeless people have it better”. 

When I read a couple of articles I just saw that you, Mr. President, had referred to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as “සමනලයා”; now we all know that this is derogatory language. With this kind of dialogue, you, Mr President, have sunk deeper than the titanic. You also referred to politicians working with Mr wickremesinghe as “සමනල කල්ලිය”. 

When the most powerful man in the country takes issue with people like me on private matters, Mr President, I, for one, will not remain silent. 

Mr. President, 

Your presidential term is best-known for soundbites such as calling upon people to stop drinking Milo, and about the cashews served on board the national airline. But despite all that, there was some respect towards you, somewhere. And that is what you have now lost. For good. 

 Mr. President, 

You decided to degrade the lives of millions, who still do not have their basic human rights to love who they love, and simply to live in peace. You used our lives to insult your political opponent. 

I’m an 18 year old cis lesbian woman who was severely bullied at school, for which, in most cases, the teachers took issue with me and in most cases they themselves were my bullies that I couldn’t stand up to. Dear Mr. President, I am a Lesbian cis woman in Sri Lanka and for people like me, our siblings give up on us, in most cases. People like me are homeless because of their sexual orientation. People like me are forced to enter heterosexual marital ties at an early age without our consent, and in some cases, are raped by family members to turn us straight.  People like me are continuously mocked because people like me are not seen as normal.  

Many queer youth are scared to talk out loud because of the fear of cis-hetero-normative stigmas and backlashes. 

 Mr. President, 

Have you not yet been briefed [other than cashews and Milos], that people like me attempt to commit suicide a lot more than people like you? That many of us face precarious situations, of homelessness and joblessness, simply because of systemic discrimination that mercilessly targets us. Basic rights, such as the right to love the person we love, or hold their hand in public and walk around, are denied to us, Mr President, because of intolerant, ill-informed, prejudiced, uneducated dinosaurs like you. 

 Mr. President, 

Our lives are at stake. Our queer lives were always hanging on a ceiling. Some queer Sri Lankan citizens have been beaten to death, or banned from their native towns and villages. Some are addicted to drugs because people like you and your hateful language mess them up so bad. Queer youth often keep to themselves, or find solace in such destructive addictions, Mr. President,  precisely because people like us are animals to “respectful” people and powerful politicians like you. Because someone waving a rainbow flag hurts your ego. Because seeing actual සමනල කල්ලි – who have taken nothing from you or done to you and yours no harm – hurts your small ego. Whenever we shout “we need our rights”, your political colleagues keep telling us “Bring bigger crowds, vote for us and then we will give your rights!” Haven’t all of us who were born and bred in this motherland of ours stood up in silence on February 4th at Independence day celebrations, because that day does not mean much to us, as our fundamental freedoms are categorically denied to us by our political class? You have shown, Mr President, that this hatred is sanctioned by the Head of State of our motherland.  

Mr. President, 

If you have any respect towards people, the next time you want to blame Ranil or anyone else, please do not insult Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Sri Lankan citizens. Because of people like you, even the most high-profile amongst us face constant insults and marginalization. We are often forced to sacrifice our entire lives, because of a socially conservative and intolerant “[non]culture” and “[non]traditions”. 

By the way, Mister President, next time you want to blame your colleagues or political opponents, why don’t you merrily deploy your own sexuality instead of zooming on ours? [if a tip is needed, Mr President, you may ask your old friend Mervyn S. of Kelaniya!]. 

*Aloka Wijesinghe is a writer, undergraduate student and LGBTQI+ rights activist. She is the co-founder of Lesketeers                    

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Latest comments

  • 2
    2

    you repeat cis cis cis; am I to interpret that it is Colombo International school with bourgeoise values of people who pretend they cannot speak or read Sinhalese or Tamil? New wealth people send their kids so they can go to the USA. Or are you already overseas? I support your position and your arguments. Sirisena was despicable. But remember in Sri Lanka there is no in your face public display of affection even by heterosexuals except in clubs in Colombo and at Dutch Hospital etc where the pretentious people hang out with excessive money.
    You claim people have been killed for being gay? are you making that up? bullying yes, but it is not the USA where Mathew Shepard was murdered for being gay plus so many others who have been beaten and also murdered for being gay or a lesbian. We support you, but we cannot believe everything you say if you do not present facts. Right now, the US is heading towards Christian evangelical ideology. Mike Pence their VP hates gays. Secretary of State Pompeo opposes Gay marriage. Look how silent the US Embassy is now about gay/LGBTQ issues. They actively promoted the Gay parade in Colombo with the rainbow flag, they posed for photos officially sanctioning gay rights and gay marriage in a conservative nation, when Obama was President/ Now they cannot do that. They also no longer host Ramadan in the Embassy because Trump will not like it. So just don’t blame Sri Lanka. But reality is US is divided on this issue too. Colorado just elected a Democrat As governor and he is openly GAY.

    • 1
      0

      Thassim look for cis on Google. You will find it has nothing to do with Colombo International School or wealthy people or bourgeoisie values.

  • 12
    23

    You claim people have been killed for being gay? are you making that up? bullying yes, but it is not the USA where Mathew Shepard was murdered for being gay plus so many others who have been beaten and also murdered for being gay or a lesbian. We support you, but we cannot believe everything you say if you do not present facts. Right now, the US is heading towards Christian evangelical ideology. Mike Pence their VP hates gays. Secretary of State Pompeo opposes Gay marriage. Look how silent the US Embassy is now about gay/LGBTQ issues. They actively promoted the Gay parade in Colombo with the rainbow flag, they posed for photos officially sanctioning gay rights and gay marriage in a conservative nation, when Obama was President/ Now they cannot do that. They also no longer host Ramadan in the Embassy because Trump will not like it. So just don’t blame Sri Lanka. But reality is US is divided on this issue too. Colorado just elected a Democrat As governor and he is openly GAY. His Gayness did not matter; his policies did. RW’s problem is not that, but that his close cabal is all he has to govern/ Everyone knows who they are. He is hiding it/ If he comes out and says yes I am bi or gay maybe people will understand/ Look, they support Mangala Samaraweera who is open. But this closet dirty cabal is the issue, because they do not engage in a transparent discussion. MS WAS WRONG but something else is going on…

    • 16
      13

      Thassim,

      You may not know that at Perera and Sons a Gay and disabled boy had been severely sexually abused and the story is all over the newspapers.

      In fact, the perpetrators have mainly been his co-workers and managers and forcefully sodomized him so much that you could insert a tennis ball in his rear-end.

      Well, the perps may themselves be Gay to do that, but that’s besides the point. The point is that there is violence directed at this community. And there’s no denying in that.

      She did mention that even family members rape them to straighten them out. I know this personally. Girls become Lesbos because of biological reasons mainly. Without elaborating too much, let me just say that it’s just too small down there to be with a man.

      • 1
        2

        For a start Perera was not seeking votes to be the PM of the country. People are killed every day for many reasons around the world . People are free to decide who they invite behind closed doors. However, if people are paying all his bills they needs to know what he believes. President is correct- RW is a public figure and seeking support from the public to hold the highest office in the country. Dont you think people needs to know who they voting for? I would like to know who i’m voting for and there are endless reasons for this. Group of 4 childless/ familyless elderly samanalayo making crustal policy/decisions could have a certain impact on the country specially for SL in the future.

      • 7
        3

        Lt. Perera,

        While i appreciate that you are speaking out in support of the LGBTQ+ community in Sri Lanka, the last part of your comment is absolutey untrue and reeks of psuedo-ally bullshit. “Girls” don’t “become” “lesbos” because they are “too small down there” to accomodate a man. Good lord. Just no. Sexual orientation is caused through a complex mix of genetics, hormones and environmental influences. Check your facts, please.

      • 2
        2

        so the peeps who did that are gay themselves, that defeats your argument m8

  • 28
    9

    Well Said girl. we certainly needed voices like yours in our country.

    • 4
      4

      Gayani: You too get screwed up by women.

  • 10
    34

    Its just sad this the person who wrote this never watches news or havnt noticed the unp mp’s scolding the PRESIDENT as “para balla” and other offensive terms. So according to this person those are polite words and “samanalaya” is a bad word. 😂😂😂😂 and didnt she notice when the unp was protesting in kollupitya how people faced problems in travelling? Oh yes she didnt.Probably because she never uses that route. Shes just another selfish person!

    • 12
      18

      Uditha,

      Unfortunately, in modern Sri Lanka that is the only language that is understood by most people.

      In the 80s or even 90s, even Premadasa who was born in the gutters did not use such language. But nowadays every politician uses this type of words because that’s what the people talk at home and understands better.

      In the Army we used to use a 3rd language of filth. But we never spoke that outside of our contingent. Nowadays, when I visit SL, I use this type of language on servants and waiters etc. Because they just love it.

    • 0
      7

      You really sound like a stupid person. I suggest you stay away from Commenting on public forums

  • 8
    6

    Dear Aloka Wijesinghe,
    .
    I won’t type much for two reasons: I’m using an uncomfortable phone, and I am abroad for the first time in 24 years – 15 day holiday that my daughter insisted on and funded since I’m poor man.
    .
    My3’s speech (well delivered as usual) was horrible in content, but you’ve got priorities mixed up. He has systematically betrayed those of us who voted for him. Our votes made him President, but he now arrogantly thinks that he can tell millions of us what is good for him.
    .
    He embodies conservative thinking which made him the right choice to rid us of murderers in 2015. Now he must be got rid of but I don’t hate him.
    .
    If we don’t overplay our hand we will be helped by his speech. Ranil also must go for other reasons. The speech promotes the chances of “young” Sajith Premadasa; let’s be realistic. He’s sufficiently familiar, but my choice is Nagananda Kodituwakku. We must decide soon on one person who will govern well.

    • 1
      1

      Sorry, a mistake here. “My3 thinks that he can tell us what is good for US who are his masters.”

    • 3
      0

      Sinhala Man,

      I was also in the view that Nagananda Kodi would be the choice.

      But since he went to court in terms of of the Unconstitutonal fake PM position, I feel he should be an underhand of someone or he does know the law well.

      Now I am left to be upset, and thinking who could be the best fo rthe country. I know Sajith led group would not change much in the system, because he has no whatsoever experience going beyond Sirisena. Ranil is the man but wrongful inofmation about him has ruined his situation in the country today.

      He is very right to say that Parliament should the place to solve the problem with the FAKE premiership.

  • 4
    0

    Part 2
    .
    In backing a candidate, orientation, ethnicity, and religion don’t matter to me. Please Google Imtiaz Bakeer Marker. It’ll probably be difficult to fault him. Muslims! The need for MMDA is one of the few serious problems that I comment on apart from ethnic problems, education, and religious humbugs.
    .
    LGBTQ – never bothered with. In adolescence, like almost all I had those urges, but I was “religious” – mistakenly. Now I’m unfairly considered “irreligious”. Please Google “Quakers. I’ve been to dozens of their meetings – seeking them out. There are none in Sri Lanka. I agree with them on all counts. Each person must work out his/ her own stands. Result: LGBTQ has received serious thought but never been a major issue.
    .
    I now see “religions” as conservative social thinking. Sex is necessary for the continuation of the species. That will always be mainstream thinking. Let that be, provided you are not harrassed. I support your cause, but I think that there are others that are more acute.
    .
    If I feel that what I have said has been thought about, I will seriously respond to your observations.

  • 9
    1

    Aloka,

    Septuagenarian I am, I have my own private reservations about those with a different sexual orientation. Yet, in the modern liberal world influenced by education, “they” have a right to live in peace, protected by law and unmolested physically. This is a phenomenon the modern world, even those in third world societies, have to get used to. This applies to conservative societies as well. More humane treatment to prisoners and those with different social orientations are two new features in the post-WW2 world that I respect.

    Fear not – come out of the closet. It is now a “don’t ask, don’t tell” world. It will take some time and some taking but the world will fall in line – sooner than later.

    R. Varathan

  • 1
    0

    The author is a publicity seeking woman who wants to eviscerate the issue of gender identity. There are only two human genders and that is determined by biology. Either you have the necessary reproductive systems in your body or you do not. Of course you can develop an affinity to the gender you were not born into and follow many ways of the other gender but that does not give you the ability to reproduce unless you are born a woman.

    What’s going on with Wick the Wimp is a different matter altogether. They are very comfortable among a group of people who grew up together, who know each other and who have had homosexual relationships with each other. Again, in their privacy if they prefer each other that is not the issue. The real issue is the formation of a cult that works within it to address national issues and issues that impact the country, economy and its people. And due to their affinity to each other and their manifest revulsion towards knowledge and skills outside their group they tend to be incestuous in their thoughts and nothing creative comes out of their efforts. Hence the country is deprived of thought leadership, innovation and creative ideas that can catapult Lanka forward. Wick the Wimp should never be allowed to lead anything. He is an unfortunate retard who deserves to be retired to some protocol office job somewhere and left for low-energy work of no real consequence. Lankans must finally go with real go getters such as Gotabya who will delivery on their promises.

  • 0
    0

    I believe our president is a man of passion, he sees in others their intent. That I believe leads him to do what he does. Our leaders needs to have a consions most do not. I don’t believe that Sri Lankan society rejects the LGBT to the extent of physical harm and compulsive targeting of the LGBT individuals. But I believe the president must extend his compassion to the beautifull lady who wrote this article

  • 3
    0

    Well said! I am wishing you the power to stand for your rights and make this change in Sri Lanka. One day IF Sri Lanka decides to be open to the LGBTQ crowd, we’ll be a favourable example to all other poor countries who are clinging to religions and cultures. Sri Lanka always has been a first in many things when it comes to open mindedness. I’m sure, that day when Sri Lankans accept all forms of love is not that far. Have faith and keep going!

    P.S. This president jargon is not my thing.. So I’m not commenting on those. My focus is on the people.

  • 3
    0

    Well said girl! Although a so called “straight” person in a traditional relationship, I will support LGBT issues all the way…

  • 2
    4

    Kids are bullied for many reasons at school, and I was bullied for been fat at school. People are free to decide who they invite behind closed doors. My wife is gay and we have no problem with her preference. However, if people are paying all RW’s bills they needs to know what he believes in. President is correct- RW is a public figure and seeking support from the public to hold the highest office in the country. Dont you think people needs to know who they voting for? I would like to know who i’m voting for and there are endless reasons for this. Group of 4 childless/ familyless elderly samanalayo making crustal policy/decisions could have a certain impact on the country specially for SL in the future.

  • 0
    7

    We definitely dont need crooked minded, little europeanised princes to preach about rights, you enjoy the rights you have, however majority of normal people definitely does not need to be govern by butterflies

  • 2
    4

    It is timely ALOKA talked about RANIL the SAMANALAYA. Samanalaya may be the western way. I have read that Ranil was addressed even the TAMIL or Hindian way. I read Rajitha senarathne wanted media address him as SAMANALAYA. Do you feel sad abour Rajitha TOO. hOW ABOUT MANGALA he had declared in side the parliament that he was a Samanalaya. People know there more SAMANALAYAS around the EX_PM SAMANALAYA (I did not use the name because that would incrminate the PM, not Mahinda Rajapakse. UNP has the highest number of SAMANALYAS. Now, Dollar kaakkas made it public, we can publish the list when the elections come.

  • 8
    0

    Aloka
    I am glad you expressed your viwes openly..I attended a leading school in Colombo and always stood by the innocent gay fellows who were getting harresed though I am not gay.. There are so many who will support you and stand by your cause.. The president of course is a joke from the begining.. I think humans have a right to live peacefully whatever there sexual mentality is….

  • 9
    0

    Dear Aloka

    As an egalitarian atheist, I thought I should just say “Hurrah” to you and your well articulated post.

    These are the people who claim themselves to be ” staunch ” Buddhists. The single most factor, of basic Buddhist principle – compassion to all beings- never fails to astound me, with Buddhista of this calibre.

    This country has a long way to go before we become moral beings, leave alone all other types of developments. Decadence.

    Thilangani Jayawardena.

  • 9
    8

    You’re an 18-year old girl, who is sadly, mislead by liberal and millennial thinking. I don’t blame you for it, but your parents, who have no brought you up with values, morals, and principles. Your victim-mentality is what is wrong with modern society, because, guess what? We have much more crises at hand, than having to deal with the mental delusions of a tiny minority. Furthermore, if you’re looking up to the President for guidance, then again, you are mentally deluded. Since when has the President ever shown that he cares about your confused community? Stick to the real issues at hand, and there are so many! I pity you, and I pray that you see the light soon, since you’re still so young, yet misguided.

  • 8
    2

    The amount of privilege in this letter is astounding, what else is to be expected of us liberal Colombo elites right?
    First off, I’d like to mention that I have no problem with you being queer. That’s not what irks me about this.
    “Wait, I’m just an 18 year old and I never had a thing for politics unless it affected my right to live, I mean I’m neither a fan of Ranil Wickremesinghe nor of Mahinda Rajapaksa, I’m done with all these useless rallies where people from far away towns have to come to Colombo on buses and block the roads so students like us have to forget going home or worse, find a place to stay in the road, but in hindsight I bet homeless people have it better”.

    This, this right here is so appalling. You say its better to be homeless than to ‘suffer’ being home late in the comfort of your vehicle. Wow.
    You realize that people are out near the Liberty junction to protest injustice right? You realize that quite a few minority communities here have been persecuted, one to the point of starting a civil war? You realize that just recently we had anti-Muslim riots? But I guess it’s just politics and protests held for them would go under ‘useless rallies’ until you get attacked.
    How do you expect people to stand with you as allies when you make it clear you will not stand with others who are persecuted until it personally affects you? Seriously, get a clue.

    • 1
      2

      BadAli,

      Minorities screching at rallies is different than Gays and Lesbos rallying. Minorities are renown to protest, rally and engage in all nefarious acts just so that they can be disruptive.

      They bombed the Central Bank, they bombed our children, they bombed our railways and you think this is protesting? We have no sympathy for them.

      But show me one instance where Pinkies have engaged in violence to justify their grievances? NEVER.

      That is why I will always support the Pinkies to achieve their rights and will never support the Minorities in anything.

      And don’t tell me it’s just the Tamils and not the Muslims. I have seen with my own eyes how Muslim home guards attack Tamils. They would have very well attacked the Sinhalese villagers too. But they knew that with the Army around, if they touched the Sinhalese they would be enjoying their last breath.

  • 1
    0

    Aloka,

    As a working professional and a father of two , I appreciate a few of your comments and courage , openness ….you can say and present your views , it is your democratic right.

    Its a lack of confidence, maturity, and enlightenment on part of our leaders to demean anyone person irrespective of sexual orientation. Most of our leaders are just hypocrites, racially biased , greedy and power hungry, incompetent to say the least.

    Members of the LGBT are not a threat to anyone, Tim Cook Ceo of Apple (is a gay), is a shinning example….of a top business leader contributing to his country.

  • 2
    3

    Poor me for being a Queer!

    Always playing a victim but forgetting that they are corrupting our youths. What you do with your life is up to you, but stop playing the victim cards.

  • 0
    3

    This girl is just 18 years old. The earlier girl ws from anintrnational school. why don’t the Journalsits get Som parliamentarians to write letters for their Bosses.

  • 1
    0

    CT: hope you will publish this.

    An account of a non-elite LGBT person from Sri Lanka.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuK27LlaVIw

  • 0
    4

    Aloka,
    Dear child you are still 18 years of age. You have long way to go in your life. Try to concentrate on your studies. You havent seen the world yet.
    Your too small to comment on politics.
    Ask your parents to pay some attention to you. Poor girl.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Aloka,

    I am glad the young generation has started to write about these things openly. It is a shame that sexual orientation is ridiculed in a Buddhist country, by a president who claims to be a Buddhist. People are born as left handed, right handed, liking this food over that food, this color over that color, or this gender over that gender. Buddhism clearly says that all these are conditioned arisings without any particular purpose. When people have sex to make children, it conditions sexual attraction to the opposite sex over time, and no wonder, the majority likes the opposite sex after several millions of years of evolution. It doesn’t mean that diversity cannot exist. Sexual orientation is an issue in societies that try to give a purpose to everything – like believing that a man is designed to like a woman, and sex is there for the purpose of regeneration. These primitive societies are slowly changing. So, ignore these people who talk in ignorance. One day they are going to see wisdom. Keep believing that the president of a country should be wise to respect all citizens, not just one’s own tribe.

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