Supporting protests and coming out in a lecture
Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 - 8:54 pm.

Today I drove to my in-laws' house, in a town about 1 hour away from our city. I don't have a license here, but I was fresh from my driving lessons and a friend of Andrew's kindly lent us his car. I packed my home country license and passport, along with gifts and food and our masks and hand sanitisers, and off we went.

It's Independence Day tomorrow here, and both today and tomorrow are holidays. This is a huge holiday with lots of eating, drinking and dancing. Andrew decided to go see his parents today to avoid any trouble on the actual holiday (e.g., drunk drivers), and so we could stay home and celebrate on our own. I was really happy to do this for him, to drive us there. He appreciated it, and we both had a great time with his parents and an auntie (a friend of the family) who stays with them from time to time.

Andrew and I hadn't been on a road trip since before the pandemic, I think. Maybe even before we left for the UK. I was a bit uneasy because cops might stop us at checkpoints and fine me for not having a national license, but thankfully it didn't happen. And we did see a lot of checkpoints on our way back. It was just great. I missed us going out like this.

I also looked forward to this road trip because I'd had a somewhat slow week at work, but Wednesday had been ROUGH. Emotionally rough. That day it was Independence Day in my home country, and I was giving a lecture on sexual orientation and gender identity in an Evolutionary Psychology course.

Independence Day in my home country was like I'd never seen it before. People never march there on that day, but things are so bad there that a lot of fronts, some even at odds with others, united and walked together. It was a sight to behold. But also there was lots of misinformation from government sources about how small and evil this march was.

Meanwhile, in the lecture, I ended up coming out. I did it in front of an undergraduate class (60+ students) and its two professors, and the class was recorded. I knew all this. I didn't know this coming into the zoom meeting (I thought it was a master's class, for 7-10 students), but I knew it very well when I decided to blurt out I was bi, in our Q&A section.

I also did it because other students had already identified themselves in their comments, whether spoken or written in the chat: Non-binary, bi, lesbian. And here I was lecturing about coming out, and heteronormativity in academia, and how there are no referents of LGBT+ professors for students. In the end I got some feedback from students that made me happy.

So my coming out wasn't a point of contention at all, that turned out to be my nationality. A very not-ill-intentioned but still very dumb student made very dumb comments about it. My reaction is usually laughing with discomfort and explaining patiently, but I ended up regretting that. I should've just set a boundary and move on to the next question.

Nevertheless, I was on a bit of a high after coming out in the lecture, and after a day of following the march in my home country. Due to the former I was shaking a bit, and regarding the latter, I posted some reports about it on Facebook. I decided that this day was not the day to remain silent but to show where and with whom I stood.

Just five minutes after I posted that, I got a WhatsApp message from my mom on our family chat (parents + siblings) reminiscing about her school marches for independence day. Obviously not at all the same thing as this march, and my dad quickly replied that her kind of march was tidy and clean and other shit.

It hit me hard. It was clear they'd seen my post on FB and took the side of the government, as usual, and could only make this passive-aggressive comment about it. Obviously I couldn't respond. Obviously my siblings didn't know what that was about so they were just saying nice pictures and shit. I said the same thing and tried to let it go.

In the end, on Wednesday night I went to bed feeling overly exposed, furious and disgusted. The lecture (my coming out, things I didn't say, the dumb student's comments) and my parents' revolting support for a dictatorship (as a stand-in for everyone who supports it) were too much. It fucking broke me. I felt trapped in my head, in the apartment. I was ruminating on all these thoughts and I did not want to do that.

I asked Andrew to hold me that night as we fell asleep. He does sometimes but this time I needed it so bad, and it helped. But then I woke up at 3 am and I stayed awake until 5:30 am fighting intrusive thoughts, until I was exhausted by that effort and I broke down and cried hard. I cried HARD. I was feeling, I repeat, exposed, furious, revolted.

I was aware that I sort of had brought all this upon myself. I could've had a nice, calm day. I keep politics off FB (and I won't even look at reactions or comments on my post), and I'd decided that I wouldn't come out in front of colleagues, especially during a session that's being recorded.

And yet, fuck that noise. I had to say something about my country and show support. I would've regretted not coming out much more.

Hence, after a horrible, horrible night (which included cats stirring and Andrew snoring loudly and feeling guilty about it), I took it easy on Thursday. Things were better, or rather, I was feeling better. Andrew has been the best through it all. In fact, I think I dare to speak my mind and come out because I know I have him. I know I can run to him and he'll hold me. I know he has my back, he supports me and cheers me on.

I'll stop here. I'm doing much better now, and I'm looking at a holiday weekend with way too much food for two people, courtesy of the in-laws, and also Andrew who buys more groceries when he's in a festive mood. I also have to catch up with my girlfriend. She knows the basics about this week, but lately I'd just rather tell her on our weekend video call instead of reliving stuff right after it happened.

Stay safe!

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