indonesia, you break my heart

The news about the caning of two homosexual men in Banda Aceh has caught my attention, and I am at a complete loss for words. As if this country hasn’t done enough to violate our rights and make us feel like we no longer have a safe place in this world. I can’t believe there are people out there who think that it is okay to invade someone else’s personal space and call it a raid for gay sex because apparently being gay is worse than being a terrorist. It breaks my heart, knowing that there are people out there going through the news and thinking that our country is awful for giving permission to the officials to hurt minorities. I am ashamed of all this fear, all this confusion and anger that has been caused by the news of the caning.

According to BBC, ‘the pair, aged 20 and 23, were found in bed together by vigilantes who entered their private accommodation in March. They have not been identified.’

I am a part of the LGBT community. I have been insulted by many people at school, been degraded by most of the teachers who had made homophobic comments that went by unnoticed. Like the minority of Indonesians, who I assume feel the same discomfort that I feel, I have questions which answers I fear are the ones that will hurt us the most.

Why was the caning done in front of a mosque?

Isn’t a mosque supposed to be a place for us to seek peace?

Why do people despise something that they don’t understand?

Are they doing this because of fear?

I am infuriated at how a bunch of people think it is okay to violate basic human rights just because some people don’t believe in the same God as them (remember what happened to Ahok?) or some people are in love with members of the same-sex, makes me sick. What I thought was absolutely disgusting was how there were observers watching, people cheering out as the lash made contact with skin. As if the humongous amount of people holding up their phones were already doing enough, some people were yelling out things like, do it harder! Or yes! They deserve it!

What happened to basic human rights?

I’m here to tell you that no matter how big the crime is, nobody deserves a punishment like that. For fuck’s sake, it’s 2017. Maybe some communities are still fighting to hold on to their rules and traditions, but they have got to remember that there are other people who are different and have different ideologies and different ways to co-exist in this world. Heterosexuals aren’t the only sexuality in this world, and just because your brother/son/uncle/neighbour/friend is attracted to members of the same sex, please remember that they are also human.

You want to show people what is unacceptable?

Tell Indonesians to stop using religion as a reason to legitimize their hate. If you think being a Muslim makes it okay for you to go around harassing homosexuals and everyone else who doesn’t identify as heterosexual, you’re wrong, because Islam is a religion of peace, and if you’re going around doing this sort of shit, whipping gay people at a fucking mosque, and doing raids for gay sex or whatever you think you’re doing, you’re not following the rules of Islam. I understand that this is your law, and this is probably your way of handling things like these, but I would like to ask those people who decided that these men should be caned in front of the public some questions.

Do people know what it is like to be a Muslim, living in another country, and having people ask you things like why does your religion hate gay people? Or why do Muslims kill people who are homosexual? on social media. Do you have any idea what your actions mean for the rest of the world? Do you have any idea what people think after reading news like these? Are you satisfied with yourselves? Are you content, because punishing people like these make you look more powerful? What are you doing in the name of religion? Putting an end to humanity? Putting an end to mankind? What is the point you are trying to prove? 

Tell Indonesians to stop degrading other people’s worth just because they’re lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Stop punishing people for something that they obviously have no control over. We didn’t choose to be born as members of the LGBT community. Being a part of the LGBT community does not make us less human. It does not lessen our right to feel safe and to be protected by the local authorities. It does not mean it’s okay for people to treat us like shit. It does not mean it’s okay for people to take away our rights.

Tell Indonesians to have respect for other people's’ personal space. Being a licensed officer does not allow you to be an asshole. It does not state in your job description that you were employed by the national police department to go around telling people who they can and cannot have sex with. You were employed to protect people, and if you’re telling me that you’re protecting people from LGBT couples who are unarmed and clearly have done nothing to harm the people around them, then maybe you should go get your eyes checked and reread your job description until you understand what it means to protect people from harm.

Tell Indonesians to stop oversexualizing homosexual relationships and to stop believing in stereotypes. You don’t get to scream out to the whole world about how much we disgust you and then masturbate while watching gay porn. You don’t get to tell your friends that all gay people think about is sex because we don’t think about sex all the time. You don’t get to tell your friends that being a gay man makes you less of a man. You don’t get to tell your friends that being attracted to the same sex means you’ve got a mental illness. You don’t get to tell your friends that we should be annihilated, destroyed, murdered, because those words are more than just words. Those words are words that are potentially triggering, words that invite tragedy and bloodshed. Maybe it’s a shooting. Or a bomb. Or a police raid that ends up in killing homosexuals.

Your words have the ability to make something happen. If only you’d use it for a better cause.

10 things for those writing about people who are blind/have low vision...

So…finishing up my portfolio and I just thought I’d share a few things:

1. Person first language: people who are blind/ people who have low vision/ people who are visually impaired.

2. It’s a cane… not a stick

Side note: Please have your characters be safe travelers and use canes or guides some of the time, not just super powers all of the time. It’s hard enough for some young kids to use their canes without comparing themselves to Kanan Jarrus or Daredevil…

3.You don’t get super senses… but maybe you become more aware of what you’re sensing and differentiating what you’re sensing

4. As far as I’m aware and according to people I’ve talked to…touching faces is awkward and not effective

5. People who are congenitally blind may not turn to look at who’s talking because it is a learned skill that may need to be explicitly taught to them. However, people who become blind/lose their vision later in life may still turn to face who’s talking or face things that they are focusing on regardless of whether they can see it

6. Some people turn their heads at angles or appear to be looking away from you because they only have vision in that part of their eye that’s currently facing you. They can’t see you if they look straight on.

7. When you can see, you learn things whole-to-part. You, who are sighted, see a house, you think house. Then you learn door, window, roof, chimney, shutters etc. If you can’t see, you learn part-to-whole, and you need to rely on touch/hearing/smell/taste (when appropriate) to form a concept of something you might learn like this: door, smell of home, window glass, window frame, brick of a chimney, panels on side of the house etc. But then putting in all together as a house is difficult to conceptualize if you’re going off random pieces of the puzzle. You may need a tactile model or something to fill in the gaps if it’s something you’ve never seen and can’t touch in its entirety.

8. Cane stuff: Not everyone taps their cane when they use it. Most that I’ve been with don’t or if they do, they do not use it all the time. Think about it. You miss a lot of tactile feedback and there’s a greater risk of missing things to trip on. There are three types of formal cane techniques: two-point touch (the classic tapping side to side), constant contact, and verification technique. The first two the cane is held at the center of the body and the person moves it from side to side wide enough just so that it goes past their hips. As they move it to one side, their opposite foot steps forward. This gives someone the most protection when moving. Verification technique is when the person holds the cane low in their non-dominant hand and uses constant contact as they see possible obstacles/terrain changes in their path.

9. Counting steps is a myth. People don’t take even steps generally. Sometimes it’s easy to count doors if it’s a small number. But if you’re at school and you have to travel across the building, are you really going to count 20 doors? What if you bump into something and lose count? You’d have to start all over. Most people create landmarks for locations. It could be something like the door with the only bulletin board in the hallway. Or the door with the water fountain next to it. Or the door that is one door to the left directly across  from the water fountain. Another thing here, is that you can kind of feel when you’re getting close to somewhere you’ve traveled to before. Like when you’re driving home and you feel like it’s been a while and your turn should be here, when suddenly the turn is here! That’s called time-distance estimation.

10. Most people are not totally blind. Only 2% of the population is visually impaired and only 2% of the population that is visually impaired is totally blind no light perception. This means that most people who are blind/visually impaired/have low vision can see something, and everyone is different and reacts different to their visual impairment and how they use the vision they have. 

This got long and slightly ranty, which was an accident… but I hope someone finds it useful. And now that I have this off my chest, remember creative liberty is a thing :)