17 May is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia & Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). IDAHOBIT celebrates LGBTQIA+ people globally and raises awareness for the work still needed to combat discrimination. To celebrate and acknowledge IDAHOBIT 2022, we asked Maldivian-born trans and non-binary multidisciplinary artist Eman Ezekiel to write a piece for Satellite. Here, Eman writes about honouring yourself, your joy, and your mental wellbeing despite “the expectation to centre our stories on trauma alone.”
Words and Images by Eman Ezekiel
As we cycle through a different year, observing another International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia, and Transphobia, needless to say that it’s not been an easy one for our community. Wherever we look, these days, it seems our lives are hot topic for conversation to be had by everyone but us.
There’s this expectation for us to centre our stories on our trauma alone. Our trauma may shape us, but it does not define us. There is so much more to who we are than simply the immense weight of what it means to be queer.
Finding little moments of honoring our personal joy, and our mental wellbeing despite our hardships can feel difficult. But those moments can exist, and they deserve to have their space to exist.
When I think about how I continue to honor the person I am today, I think about my younger self that has brought me to who I am now. I think about growing up most of my life (in the Maldives) never seeing myself represented anywhere around me. I did not have the language to define myself, and I did not know how to describe the way I experienced the world. I was forced to fold inward, and find myself in the little nooks of subtext in literature, film and television.
When I think about honoring myself and my wellbeing, I think about the ways I have continued to show up for myself. Lots of those little moments of queer joy and caring for myself exist privately, in the little details of all the ways in which I live.
When I dance in my bedroom, every limb in my body carries the multitudes of my identities. When I write in my little journals, the words that fall onto the page celebrate my past, and my present. When I watch a movie, or read a book that touches my heart, I experience just a little bit more of life. All these little ways in which my heart has found a way to expand the love it feels, are the details in which my joy exists.
And finally, I think about how I would have loved nothing more than to have had someone simply say to me, “you are valid, and it is okay to be as you are.”
So to you, dearest reader, I offer you these simple affirmations – I hope you know that the little ways you show up for yourself are never a small feat, they deserve to be celebrated, and know that you are loved and valid.