To celebrate Pride Month, a WiredScore employee shares with us their experiences from childhood to working in Real Estate, as they struggle to assume their identity. An identity that has been questioned so many times by society, laws, and religion.
What is a pen name? A pen name, historically, is an assumed name adopted by a writer to conceal their identity and their true name. I am not writing this text under a pen name. I am writing it anonymously. You might ask yourself why, but the answer is not simple.
A name has a character; it has a history, experiences, manners, qualities. Your name might not be unique, but hearing it would evoke a certain feeling in certain people, be it love or hate, excitement or annoyance, or merely serving as a reminder of past events. I did not assume a pen name because with it I would be assuming a character that is not mine. I did not assume a pen name because with it I would be fathering a creature with the character of which you will be molding your own reality of it, with a history and experiences that are not mine. I will not be signing this text with a name, for my reality on these pages is enough ink to recreate my identity.
I am writing this text anonymously, and rightly so. I am writing this text anonymously for the sake of your objectivity, as difficult as your own experiences and history, coupled with your prejudice, might make it for you. I am writing this text anonymously for anonymity might after all help me stay true to my identity that was, not once, not twice, but numerous and uncountable times, questioned by minds and souls that had not seen the light.
That light that I first saw in a developing country – a politically correct way of saying a country that is at the onset of capitalizing on its riches and resources that were once colonized. Alas, riches and resources were not the only things that were colonized: the culture was too. It was perceived as a modernization and a westernization of socio-economic structures that were bound to fail, as if the only norms by which we had to abide were those of western states. Needless to say, with their now archaic, lightless views of this world, in the name of religion or societal organization (aren’t they the same after all?), they brought about and institutionalized laws and regulations that would serve as a reference point for giving them the official, legal right to question and restrict my identity and that of every individual not abiding by their norms – the wicked spawn of diplomatic decisiveness in civil and personal matters.
Laws and culture were not the only constituents of the governance of my identity. Religion and the cruelty of the apparent freedom that was bestowed upon you since that first light tied you to the constant fear of choosing the wrong side of that “freedom,” highlighting ceaselessly the fiery consequences of it. But after all, you were free as long as you paid the price, as hefty as they made it up to be.
Laws, culture, religion. All of them combined would not measure up to a single look from your family or your mother’s eyes. That disownment tear of rage, saddled with the restraints of laws, culture and religion, would break you in unimaginable ways, the mere thought of which would make you reassess your need or desire to assume your true identity. Your true identity that if ever perceived would be disregarded and dismissed for mannerism. Your true identity that made you conceal your preferences for gendered toys not coherent with your assigned sex.
“He’s special,” they said to themselves. As a child, you do not understand, but they make you understand that your favorite color is blue, that you love soccer, that barbies with brainwashing, idealized beauty standards were prohibited, that you love soldiers and action figures instead. Fortunately for them, you stuck to the gender of toys you were allowed to like. Unfortunately for them, it is also the gender of humans that you like but not allowed to.
None of it was easy. Walking between two very thin, not fairly distanced lines, even as a child, was a struggle and a burden no one should ever endure. Being bullied for mannerism, getting picked last in sports, preferring hanging out with girls over boys, not fitting in, to name but a few, none of it made sense growing up as you were struggling to make it through. It got even harder with age; as a teenager, experiencing life and discovering your body, trying to fit in by appealing to the opposite sex while you know your mind and lust are elsewhere. But you dismiss it over and over again until it becomes an obsession and a depression of which you won’t be able to rid yourself. “What’s happening to me?”, you keep on screaming on the inside. And then you grow up.
And then you grow up to choose your own colors and shades. And then you grow up to understand that what was happening to you is not odd. That first enlightenment and sense of belonging ironically emerged on a flat screen animated by a production of those same colonizing, culture-saving and discriminatory-law-making states. “I’m not alone,” you say to yourself. “My struggle is real and valid,” you admit to yourself for the first time.
Then you realize that everything is configured for you not to be able to assume your true identity. In the country that gave you everything and to which you would have given everything, your destination was lockup; lockup to make you convert to their heteronormative cult or lockup behind bars for lacking morals and ethics.
You are a danger to society. Your love is a danger to society. You start acting “manlier” at police and military checkpoints. You start worrying when you try to steal a kiss from your significant other, an attempt at holding their hand publicly being sufficient to be seen as an act of terrorism against public stability and morality or as a tumor to be removed at once before it spreads. You start worrying in the comfort of your own home of being raided by God-loving, morality-protecting policemen, proudly publishing their prizes and achievements so that a lightless, heteronormative society would pay them in a standing ovation for helping eradicate love as they never knew it.
And then you learn that “somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue and the dreams you dare to dream do come true.” You pour your entire strength and energy to move to the free land, the land of those same westernizing states for the likes of you spent years and decades fighting, marching, and bleeding for freedom and basic human rights. You move to a land governed by new laws and new ideals.
You are protected, you are safe, you are legal. Your identity is acknowledged. You live the dream not long enough until you perceive the disparity between what is written and what is applied. Yes, laws have evolved. Yes, you have your rights. However, holding your significant other’s hand, that once would have been reason enough to put you behind bars, appears to still offend and shock people even in one of the most diverse areas of the world. Offense and shock start becoming the last of your concerns when brutality and violence are the substitutes of lockup.
A shimmering ray of light that land is. A promised land it is for those who are still looking for a home. There are still mountains to be moved, but at least we have workers willing to take on the workload. It takes courageous soldiers to set us on the right path in worlds governed by heteronormativity. One of those worlds might be that of Real Estate. Leveraging our channels to serve as pink-washing machines should not be the path for us. Using our diversity, equity, and inclusion policies to serve our seemingly progressive purposes without any real change, actions, and accountability at the backstage should not be the path for us.
Eradicating discrimination should. Equal opportunity should. Education and actions should. Stepping into this world made me realize how much work we still need to do, but I am lucky to be part of the change today. I am lucky to be working in a company that is respectful of my identity and sexuality. I am lucky to be given a platform to make my voice and the voices of the likes of me heard. I am lucky to be fighting the right fight. I am lucky to be celebrated and not condemned. I am lucky to assume my true identity. I am lucky to love without being afraid. I am lucky.