Social Networking among Bangladeshi Male Homosexual People: Another Side of the Portrait
“this is rubbish. Hijras are born with it, hence they cant do anything about it. However, when it comes to homosexuality, i really dont support it. In my perception, homosexuality is an extreme case of sexual desirability, and its controllable like any other forms of extreme emotions ( e.g. anger, depression etc.). If being ‘Gay’ is ‘Natural’, then why they cant produce babies ‘naturally’? If you any ‘open-minded’+’non-judgemental’ person has answer to this, then please do inform me.” (Sadeque, 2014)
“আপনাদের প্রচেস্টাকে আন্তরিক অভিনন্দন জানাই আর এর উত্তরাত্তর সাফল্য কামনা করি ।একজন মানুষ কি ভাবে তার জীবন নির্বাহ করবে তা নির্ধারণ করার অধিকার তার জন্মগত । বিকৃতমানষিকতার অধিকারীদের গাত্র দাহ হওয়াটা তো স্বাভাবিক, কথায় কথায় ফতোয়া জারী করলেই যে ধার্মিক হওয়া যায় না এ বোধ টুকুই যাদের ঘটে নাই, তাদের কথা অগ্রাহ্য করাই শ্রেয় । “ (Sadeque, 2014)
hese two quotes are taken from The Dhaka Tribune page where they publish news on the first ever gay magazine in Bangladesh titled “Roopban” from where anyone can have an idea about the mix feelings about homosexual people. Homosexuality in Bangladesh is still like a taboo because the term and the meaning of it are still not available to everyone and also as it is forbidden according to some religion. It is observed that, not everyone has the same feeling about this different community. To some people it is natural to some it is not. Some society is allowing them and some are not. Whatever the viewpoint is, from the internet and social networking site, even from some newspaper it is clear that there is significant number of homosexual people active and they like to express themselves as a homosexual person. Besides, they have their own network, culture and community. From this minor observation, I have decided to explore how they inter connect with each other where people feel shy about talking about homosexuality and do not feel comfort to declare self as a homosexual. Another attempt of this work will be to know behind the reason for which they connect with each other and the destination that the connectivity takes them.
This is a six chapter research where chapter I will start by a brief introductory paragraph focusing on the current trend of homosexuality in Bangladesh. Along with this the chapter will also include the purpose and the significance of the study. Chapter II will contain the objective of this study. Chapter III will contain the research locale and population. In chapter IV, the methodology of the data collection process, instruments that will be used for the research and the time frame will be mentioned. In addition this chapter will also include the scope and the limitations of the research. Next, chapter V will show the interview result and discuss the findings based on the collected data. Finally, in chapter VI the research will conclude by showing the research findings followed by a conclusion.
The primary and core or specific objective of this research is to figure out the way in which the Bangladeshi homosexual male people inter connect with each other. The supplementary or broad objective of this study is to explore the reason of this connectivity and the result.
RESEARCH LOCALE & POPULATION:
This study is focused on exploring the reason and the way the homosexual people interconnect with each other for which personal experience of different homosexual people of different age and background is necessary. For this reason, the study is based on personal interview and some mini survey. The research work has been taken place in Dhaka where the interviewees are from different area of the country. The interview has been taken place by face to face, phone and chatting conversation. There are five interviewees in total where only the interviewee number 5, named Tonmoy is known to me as we were neighbor and know each other for a long time. As I do not have much contact with others Tonmoy works as a referral here. Though it looks simple like omnibus but there is much complex relationship between this five people. The brief introduction of the interviewees is mentioned below. The complex relational graph will be shown in chapter VI.
Interviewee 1: Tanim
Tanim is a male of 24 years and now currently studying in fashion designing at a privet university in Uttara, Dhaka. He is from Narayanganje district and from a middle class background. He grew up in that suburb and shifted to Dhaka right after his higher secondary. Beside of his study he works as a classical dance master at Bulbul Lalitkala Academy. He claims himself as a gay, having no sexual interest in female which only his friend circle knows. According to him, his family has doubt (not confirmed) on his sexual orientation as he walk like a girl and dress like them as well.
Interviewee 2: Shafin
Shafin is currently an internee of private foreign bank. His age is now 28 and an unmarried person. He prefers himself to call as a bi-sexual though has no interest in women. He is from an upper middle class family and from Dhaka metropolitan area. Finished his undergraduate from a private university in Dhaka and now trying to go USA for a master’s degree. As of him, his family and friends are well aware about his sexual orientation as he tried to commit suicide in front of his family member after getting the news of his boyfriend’s wedding with a woman.
Interviewee 3: Farid
Farid is a married guy of 48 years old having 2 sons. He is a professor of a private university and residing in Chittagong. Frequently visit Dhaka to have sexual intercourse with some teen boys. He preferred to mention “straight” in his sexual orientation and identified homosexual sex as “fun”. Only his driver knows about his sexual preference as the driver has to pick and drop those teen boys to his house/place.
Interviewee 4: Arif
Arif is now 23 and doing his undergraduate at a college under National University near Motijheel, though he is from a village of Shirajganje district. He came to Dhaka after his secondary education exam as his father left his family and went to Kolkata, India.He is from a lower middle class family and he does not feel comfortable to introduce himself as a homosexual and neither of his family or friend knows about his sexual orientation. He claim himself as a straight guy but practice homo sex just because to earn money as he has no other way to earn and identified this as a fun way to earn.
Interviewee 5: Tonmoy
Tonmoy is currently an undergraduate student of a government university and residing in Khulna. He grew up in a middle class family and in a sub urban area. He likes to introduce himself as a homosexual to his friends so that everyone knows him and try to do physical affair which he always welcome. Almost all of his friends know that he is bisexual except his family.
This study focused on exploring the way the homosexual people in Bangladesh usually connect with each other and the reason behind there connection and the result as well. As the research required the real life experience, taking of personal interview started on November 18, 2014 and finished on December 5, 2014. In this research, data were collected through structured and semi structured questions for the participants (Appendix A). The number of the participants is five, among them 1 is from rural area and another from urban. Rest of the 3 participants is from sub urban area and the age range of the participants is 22–48. While most questions focused on the process they connect with each other, some questions was about their desire and their future plan about their sexual or professional life. Analyzing the data and reviewing the existing thought the insight and finding will be mentioned in chapter VI.
The research however, is not beyond its limitations. Firstly, the time frame of this research was not satisfactory for which different scope of this study has been omitted and only focused on a particular point. Secondly, as the majority of the participant’s profession is student, and they are now appearing in their semester finals, often it was hard to find the correct answer/data from the various conversations which is another limitation of this research. Finally, as the study is based only with some of the people of the homosexual community, it may not be compared to a study that has been done for the same purpose.
The data of this study has been collected through interview and structured questions. The summary of the interview is given below.
Tanim, started his classical dance class at the age of 13 when he was in class 8. The dance master and his junior colleagues were very interested on him and frequently invite him to go any of their houses after the class. He did not know the intention until that day when he was physically abused. One Friday he went to one of the junior teacher’s house (who was an undergraduate student then) to attend his birthday party, requested to pass the night with him. Finally, he realized that it was something which was neither expected nor known to him. From that day, Tanim getting started to know people around him to have the same interest on him just as the junior teacher. The people get to know him just watching his appearance and his walking style, said Tanim at one point of the conversation. Sometimes they blink their eyes on him so that he can understand their desire. Sometimes the known introduces him to the unknowns. By this way he was getting to know people around him which were not intentional. After his HSC examination he shifted to Dhaka and get admitted into a fashion designing university. After 4 months he started realizing that he is feeling sexual attraction into male. Whenever any macho man passes him he stair at him and feel to ejaculate. When he expresses this to a female classmate who is from Dhaka, get to know that there are various sites online where homosexual people can find their partner. Manjam.com is such website that he has been told. The next day he opened an account in manjam and within 10 minutes he got 10 friend requests. That was the beginning, and now he got a life partner from there though he did not stop browsing that site as he is interested to get to know new people.
Shafin has a wonderful life with his girlfriend who was a classmate of him in the same university. He was so much in love with the girl that planning to marry her after his graduation. Passing time together, swearing that they will not forget each other for the next 10 years when he heard that his girlfriend is going to get married with an American Bangladeshi guy, he was unable to accept that, and one point attempted to commit suicide in front of his family member. His family stopped him and sent him to a physiatrist for counseling. According to Shafin the counselor was about the same age of him and was very friendly. After 1–2 weeks Shafin realize that the physiatrist has own his broken heart. He started losing his faith on women and start loving the physiatrist. On day he proposes him to be his partner and the physiatrist accept as he was a homosexual as well. To him a person was needed in his life to save him, no matter what gender or race of that person has. As he was happy, his family has no obligation and takes the matter very simply.
Farid was not happy with his married life after the birth of his second child as he called it an “accident”. He blamed his wife fir this as his wife was not interested to do anal sex and in penis sucking. Besides, he did not want an extra mouth in the family as the income was not sufficient. These were the primary reasons for which he started ignoring his wife. To produce much more money he started tutoring the students in a rented room where mostly boys will come. Usually there was one student who had responsibility to keep the key and close the room after the class. One day Farid found a male underwear inside the room which force him to believe that the student do something wrong in the room. The next day while everybody left the room Farid came back and caught two of his two students doing sex. He was terrified and told the students to call their parents. Suddenly, both the students request him not to say anyone regarding this. In exchange they will do whatever Farid want. That day Farid had an evil idea, he starts the music on his mobile and the students had to dance without any cloth. At one point Farid asked them to suck his penis and the next day he wanted to do anal sex with those students. That was the starting. Farid feels happy that he is getting money and also sexual pleasure at a time. This happiness with the students does not continued long as the students passed and left the university. He asked the students to recommend some of the teen boys, so that he can do sex. By this he started getting to know more homosexual boys. He takes them to some hotel, in his tutoring room and even in his house when nobody inside. Nobody of his family knows about his sexual desire but his driver, as he has to pick and drop those boys from different places.
Arif came to Dhaka in 2008 after finishing his secondary school certificate in search of livelihood as his father left him and his mother and became settled in Kolkata, India. He started living near Kamlapur railway station and usually passes his time at the station yard in afternoon. Usually it was a common scenario every day that he found at the place; some people is smocking, some street boys are playing and some women are searching their customer as they were doing prostitution. Nothing but this catches his eyes very strongly and he became more curious about those women. He wanted to know how they feel and the amount they earn by doing this. Hesitating for than 2–3 weeks, he forced himself in front of one woman and asked his desired question. From them he came to know that, it is not only women but there are thousands of male prostitutes out there beside him. He also came to know that “Ramna Park” is the heaven for male prostitutes and when it is Friday, it seems the park became a small hut of them. Inspired by this and having no other way to get a job and earn money, Arif decided to go to the park and offer himself as a male prostitute, so that he can find his way to earn. He chooses one Friday and headed for the park and reached at evening. He slowly started walking into the park and looking around. Many people are walking for exercise and some people were looking at him from feet to head continuously. Suddenly someone call him and ask him to sit beside him. After a short conversation he came to know that the guy is businessman and unmarried, living alone in Mohammadpur ; willing to pay him five hundred taka for doing sex once in his house. Arif became very excited and agree to go with him. From the next week onwards he started getting call from different person from different part of Dhaka city including some foreigner. Once he introduced with a teen boy from Gulshan who help him to open an account in manjam.com so that he can find his customer smartly. Earning money in this way is not a bad job to him rather he admires himself as he is not earning by harming others.
Tonmoy claims himself as very smart in this community as he had a long story of the connectivity between him and various online homosexual communities. When he was in class VIII he used to chat in yahoo with his distance relative who lives in Canada and suggest him to go through some chat room in yahoo to pass his times. One day he started browsing some chat rooms and found a room named Bangladesh. He entered in the room and found lots of advertisements are going up and down. Among them only one catches his eyes. It was mentioned “any one from Dhaka for M2M sex?” He knew what sex is but did not know the meaning of M2M. He asked that person to give a clarification. When he heard that it was about having sex with a man being a man. Basically it’s male to male sex. He was astonished and when asked the person to give description about how to do it, suggested to search in google. Without spending a moment he rush to google and search with the keyword “male to male sex” and found lots of gay porn and dating sites which forced him to get into the topic in deep. In about 2 weeks he opened account in outpersonal.com, manjam.com and a social chatting site mig33.com. From these sites he was getting huge requests to do sex with various people and while met with one guy he fell in love. Though it was love at first sight, it was like one night stand. Later he realizes that he needs to do sex with more people that can bring more verity and experience in him. He thinks it is also a platform for networking which can help him to boost his career in future.
FINDINGS & CONCLUSION:
The different desire and viewpoint of life has established separate ways and reasons for connection between two male for physical affair in Bangladesh where everybody has a negative view on it. From the interview summary it has been identified that the connection happens in various way. The traditional way of connection is reference and physical gestures. “People in Bangladesh know each other by their friends, surroundings and neighbors and they can identify the gestures of a homosexual male” (Khana, Roddh, Saggersb, & Bhuiyaa, 2005). Internet has worked as a strong medium of this connection. People can open account in homosexual social networking sites like outpersonal, manjam and mig33 where they can introduce each other before meeting physically (Appendix A). Beside of this, some of them are created some forums online like boysofbangladesh (bob), Bangladesh association of gays (bag) etc. All these connections are not happening intentionally always but unintentionally as well. For example: Shafin was not a gay but being betrayed by a woman he was distracted which force him to get relief and thus fall in love with a male. Though some one can say that he was broken hearted and “a broken heart can easy to steal” (Viefhues-Bailey, 2007) for which it was easy to steal his heart but the argument is, if the love or time that the physiatrist share with him which encourage him to start his life again. These are a sign of unintentional connection that the homosexual male practices in Bangladesh. On the other hand, the majority has an intention to be connected. Towards today “It is not only the body but the demand of the modern mind to have a body to do sex no matter what gender it comes from” (Dutta, 2012). Fulfilling physical desire, making a source of money or establishing a network is the common reason behind the connection as of the interview. The final question arises now, that the connection takes them where? Analyzing the data it seems the connection takes someone into their desired life, someone to their hope and someone to their livelihood.
 Roopban is the country’s first ever lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) magazine in a bid to promote wider tolerance of persons of diverse sexual orientations. — See more at: http://www.dhakatribune.com/arts-amp-culture/2014/jan/20/first-ever-lgbt-magazine-launched#sthash.2pd6PgI4.dpuf
 Boys of Bangladesh previously known as Boys only Bangladesh is one of the largest homosexual community
 Bangladesh Association of Gays is another homosexual community in South west Bangladesh