I am not a homophobic. Neither am I a gay basher. I even have good friends who are gay. And I am comfortable amongst gay people. Yet it was with a great sense of trepidation I entered the auditorium of the British School to watch the play “If you promise not to tell” billed as a performance of stories from queer men’s lives, organized by Sakhi Collaboration a organization that works with Lesbian, Gay ,Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) persons. “Would they think I am gay too” this was the first question which went through my head. This was the first time I had been amidst such a large amount of people from that communityWill someone try to make a pass at me? Or behave in a manner which would make me feel uncomfortable? These were some of the questions which were going through my head a couple of days before the event. But I am glad I overcame my fears and made it to see the performance. My reaction was a sense of sadness and dismay and relief. “Thank goodness I am not gay because it’s a terrible thing to be gay in this country” is what I said to myself after watching all the stories most of which were based on real life situations. You are harassed, you are persecuted and you are misunderstood. From society from friends and even your parents. How sad. There were two scenes which caught my attention and stuck to my mind. One was the story about a boy who loved to dance but he dances in an effeminate manner and how he is harassed and beaten in the end. It took my down memory lane to Wilpattu where I can recall a young boy who was our tracker telling us proudly how he and his friends assaulted some “Ponnayas” at a music show in their area. What makes this terrible is that this young man was a nice young man who was otherwise a very respectful hardworking and kind person. But in his environment this kind of behavior was as natural as killing a cockroach would be for me. He works in the police today and I hate to imagine what queer people in his area of jurisdiction must be going through. The second scene was the one of a mother trying to dress her homosexual son as a man shouting “Aiyo Samaje!” in an anguished way. After all “what will other people say or think?” controls the actions of lots of people. This too reminded me of what one of my friends mother has said when he came out of the closet. Believe it or not her words were “Aiyo Son if you are homosexual at least can’t you marry a lesbian” Pathetic actually Sympathetic isn’t it? The direction of the play by Matt Tyne was very good. It was very simple and minimalist. The acting was good too though it was quite clear that they were amateurs. And the production values were pretty good specially the music which impressed me no end. Even the individual stories were excellent. Some were funny and some were serious though there was nothing funny about the message they were trying to communicate. We need to teach the people around us to treat gay people with more respect. Educate them that being gay is not something you choose to be but rather a manner in which people are born just like some are born with brown eyes whilst others are with black. Or straight hair and curly hair. It is the way god intended them to be. Now I know that if some of my fellow church members saw this statement there would be a holy uproar. But I stand by what I say. And most importantly we need to make people understand that Gay people are human too and hurt and bleed just like the rest of us. After all being Gay in Sri Lanka comes with its own set of dangers. We don’t need to add to it do we?