The Queer experience in Greece is relevant to spaces in Bangladesh for non-normative modes of being. This story resonates to them, who deny to be categorized as ‘either’/’or’ in terms of gender and sexual identity.
‘‘Sodomela is my new name.
Not many people know this name, only good friends. I was christened Nickolas and this has been my name for the first 40 years of my life. Life on a Greek island does not have space for the “different”. Racism, homophobia, hate for trans people and for anything “different” was what we were taught back then. When they found out I was left-handed, I was forced to write with my right hand, because “right is the hand of God” (of course I’m still left-handed and still seen as ‘evil’ by some). Things are changing now here, fortunately, but slowly…From my very early years I felt I was not a “match” for their standards. With my feminine part well hidden, I was luckily skilled in sports and activities that are quite “masculine”, such as martial arts or motorbike-racing, so I successfully passed as a boy. But no matter the success, it was never rewarding enough, not for the true owner of this body. Sodomela was craving to explode when Nickolas had to act “in tune” with the stupidity and cruelness of other boys against any other human being who just wanted to be free. So I spent a lot of time searching for harmony in fine arts, yoga, Ayurveda, aromatherapy, and some other ways of natural healing, but even in such a class, I had to pretend to be male. My grand-mother’s garden was the only place where I could, for a while, be free from the stressful discomfort regarding my gender. Plants don’t judge. So I found one of my biggest loves, plants and herbal healing. This re-connection with nature, opened the doors that are responsible for the re-establishing of myself.
Sodomela would not exist without the journey into these philosophies.
The knowledge of my different nature came very early, years before any sexuality knocked on my door. But in my teens, I experienced an inner explosion not similar to other kids. My erotic fantasies were a mix of girlish romance and harem-like scenes, with a pint of wild bi-sexuality and BDSM, and they never included any scene of me penetrating a woman. So I had to keep this a secret from my school-mates every time they would talk about girls, and every day Sodomela went one inch deeper under the ground…Many years later, when I attended an amazonian shamanic gathering-workshop in London, Sodomela rose in all her glory, looked me in the eyes and came out with the very critical question “Will you ever listen to your soul, and walk towards self-respect and love, or will you continue dying in isolation in your dark safe prison?” It influenced me so much, and led me to live with indigenous people in the Amazon and the Andes for a while. There I realized that a “third gender” had always existed and has been equally respected, giving space to express and thrive in the community. Among these tribes, some “two-spirited” people, as they call them, are very famous and considered of a very high status, usually shamans and medicine people, as they carry healing qualities of both feminine and masculine nature. And, what a surprise! They dress the gender they identify with, just like I like to dress female. Clothing is a symbol, it either wraps one’s body in such a way that it reveals the soul on the surface, i.e. the skin, or it completely hides it. Those two-spirited Indians may not wear sexy fish-net stockings, but the feeling of being tuned in with their tribe’s female picture is enough to bring peace to their hearts.
Meanwhile, life on island hasn’t changed because they still know me as Nickolas.
There is much more fear and hate than the visible. The beliefs of orthodox church which are the community’s rules and ethics, make the place one of the most discriminating and aggressive against non-binary people. In such a small community, coming out as Sodomela would definitely destroy my family’s lives. People very easily act in massive hate. My family and I would be extremely stigmatized and kept isolated by the 99% of people there, with no right in social life, jobs, etc., and with an everyday struggle not to be humiliated, degraded, treated as “less than human”.
Its not easy. Thankfully, since I started speaking about Sodomela, when not on the island, I was welcomed by some amazing people and received all the love, support and acceptance I can’t find back home and this is my liberation. I have chosen to grow with these very few lovely people! On the island, no one will ever accept me in these heels!
I am about to take part in an erotic show now, where I will be performing with 4 other people, a lesbian couple, a woman and a man. With various interactions and practices, we will show people that any role, or gender, or sexual orientation should be accepted when you act from love. Love derives from the heart, no matter what we wear, who we are attracted or point our love to!’’