Growing up gay in Mauritius
Growing up gay in Mauritius has arguably been one of the most, if not THE most defining experience of my life. Yet, it's funny to think of how, just a few years ago, I was resolute to take the knowledge of my penchant for dick to the grave. The mere recollection of this thought now seems absolutely ludicrous, especially when it is juxtaposed to how I can frequently be caught screaming to pretty much anyone that I am a flaming homosexual. Maybe then, in a bid to understand this stark contrast, should we revisit the past and take a look at what in the world could have resulted into such a glorious (yet sometimes, I fear, slightly obnoxious) turn of events? Yes? I thought it'd be a good idea too.
I shall start with the earliest memory I have of myself "gaying out", or, as sensible people will understand it, merely being a little human with a bunch of rather ordinary emotions. This would take us back to one of the occasional school lunch breaks where I'd just sit by myself. That time, however, something would be different. Out of the blue, the most adorable little dude sat next to me and stroke up a conversation. I mustn't have been older than 8 then, but I can clearly remember my fixation on his shaggy light brown hair and on the baby blue frame around his glasses. He would talk to me in Creole and I would reply in French, but the exchange would flow seamlessly, and from it, I can recall that his name was Ismaël and that, even though we were the same age, he had started school a year late and thus happened to be in the year below me.
I remember that the next day, I sat in the same spot, eager to see him again. But alas, he didn't show up, and wouldn't for at least a few more days. I didn't understand what it was all about back then, but I can now positively affirm that this little dude was my first crush. And if you're wondering what happened next, it's a little bit disappointing... I only got to see him one more time before he vanished from my existence, the thought of him following suit shortly after, only to reemerge more than a decade later as some sort of a homosexual eureka moment. But my gay journey went on still, unfortunately pitting me against less "awww"-worthy moments.
A few... Or actually many of these moments - which succeeded each other as if a life sentence - have witnessed me endure countless counts of bullying. I guess it was always a little bit obvious that I was tremendously gay. I've always been quite effeminate (which, as a reminder to my fellow gays, and to everyone else actually, is nothing to be ashamed of) and aggressively disinterested in sports (especially football, which is huge back home) and other stereotypically heterosexual endeavors. As a kid, while role playing "mom and dad" with my friends, I always wanted to be the mom. And speaking of mom, I had a profound passion for trying mine's heels behind her back - which was eventually discovered and reprimanded that one tragic evening when my parents, back from work exceptionally early, discovered their son in exquisite gender bending finery.
I could probably tell you a thousand more anecdotes about growing up gay on my little island, but I think I can sum up most of my experience by saying that I was a just kid with a human heart disguised in alien behavior. I felt like I was an alien to pretty much everything - to my parents' religion, to our education system, to the media, to our multicultural landscape that had somehow forgotten about people like me... What felt right to me seemed wrong according to everything else, so nothing felt like home for a long time... Until about halfway into highschool, when I got to be friends with other queer people. From then on, everything would change. Maybe it took me a bit of time, but I eventually wouldn't feel like a freak anymore. I didn't want to be ashamed of who I was. I had even noticed that no one could use my identity against me if I owned it. I felt proud to be gay, proud to be part of the LGBTQ community!
If anything, I think that being gay has made me a better person. It helped me see difference in people as nothing else but an integral part of their humanity. It let me to meet some of the most fun, kind, and outstandingly creative individuals all through the strongly bonding aspect of queer identity. It had me live beautiful moments, and love beautiful humans - something I can only be eternally grateful for. My identity has brought me so much light, and I want other queer Mauritians out there to enjoy similarly wonderful experiences.
So maybe that's why I'm so loudly gay. Because I know that some of y'all see me, and I want you to know that there's beauty in being you, despite the treacherous moments that might come your way. I want you to know that even though life may be shit for you right now, it will get better. I want you to know that you aren't a freak, that you aren't a sin, or a mistake. You are a child of democracy who is entitled to equal rights and equal opportunities. You are someone worthy of love and affection. You are important, and you matter! And most importantly, you deserve to live free of the bigotry that has long plagued your beautiful identity. Never forget that love will always win, and that an endeavor as pure as enforcing such a resounding truth can never be defeated.