WOW | People

Unheard Voices

Text by: Pabita Dahal

wow photo file © Ram Tandukar/Gokul Shrees

Location: Los Escobar’s, MUA: Nilam Paudel

Laxmi Ghalan is a founder member and president of Mitini Nepal which works for the betterment of the LBT (Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) women in society who are still deprived of their rights. She is the first Nepali lesbian to come out in 2002 when being a lesbian was illegal.

LAXMI GHALAN 36 years old

Growing up: At the age of 14, I came to know that I had romantic feelings for my best friend. I expressed my feelings to her, then our friendship broke. Though I found my feelings I did not know I was a lesbian. I only knew that I am different from other girls and that I could not live killing my feelings. I found my gender identity as a lesbian at the age of 18 through the Blue Diamond Society. Then I decided to come out. In November 2002, I disclosed myself as a lesbian. At that time, my family was against me. My father wanted to marry me off and my uncle tried a lot to change me. I was not be able to convince my family and I left them for seven years.

After coming out, I formed a small group ‘Mitini Support Group’, now Mitini Nepal to find out if there are other girls like me. I found many friends and we struggled together. In our patriarchal country, it is very difficult for lesbians. When I came out, it was hot news and people used to tease and abuse us. I used to wear a cap, mask and glasses while walking in public areas.  But now I am happy with my life. My family also is happy seeing my happiness.

Society: I have heterosexual friends more than queer friends. The interesting thing is the number of boys is dominant. Usually, I do not get time to hangout but sometimes we go for picnics, cultural programs and occasionally meet with friends.

Relationship: I have been living with my partner for 19 years. The loveliest thing which keeps me engaged with her is her convinction.

At the age of 14 I came to know that I had romantic feelings for my best friend. I expressed my feelings to her, then our friendship broke.

The Law: The Constitution has promised the right of queer people but there are no effective procedural laws implemented. Even Muluki Dewani Samhita 2074 has not mentioned anything about queer people. Talking about citizenship, the gender marker ‘other’ is not inclusive. We want to be addressed by our particular gender identity: gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, etc.  It is a good point that the Supreme Court has permitted the same sexes to live together. But, there is no paper procedure to give a name to that relation. What if one partner cheats another? What if one of the partners dies? There is no evidence to fight for that relationship or to secure rights. I appeal to the government to provide the right to register our relationship as queer people too.

Message: I appeal to families, society, and state to make it easier for queer people to come out. The family should protect, love and support their children to live with dignity in society.
My message to queer people is to accept yourself as your greatest strength. It is not necessary that you must come out in the open about your identity, but it is better if you do so. Despite the challenges, you will get many opportunities, rights, and freedom after coming out. Your LGBTI community is waiting for you. You can contribute to this community. Economic success matters everywhere. If you are financially successful nothing can stop you from living with respect. Give focus to your personal and financial development.

If you could be PM for a day

Legalise queer marriage.

A super power you wish you had

Power to get my partner pregnant