This series of articles "Non-binary and proud" was launched with the idea of providing the necessary platforms and space for the stories and voices of gender non-binary persons and their families. That is why this article will enhance our conversation with a non-binary person and their mother. We are thankful to the parent who agreed to talk to us, but for security reasons we will have to hide their identities, so we will simply call them "mother" and Alis - at their request.
The first relationship we create in this world is the one with our parents. They are the first to touch us, talk to us and take care of our well-being. They say that parental love is almost irreplaceable. However, the reality of our society is such that parental love is often conditional for LGBTI persons. Parents do not want or cannot work on themselves, they reject the identities of their children and often force them to make radical changes that are not in line with their feelings. For LGBTI persons, parental support is a great foundation, a foundation for further development and a freer life. You can find a million stories about bad experiences that LGBTI people have had with their parents, which is why this story will be special and empowering. Because this Mother, is the one who accepted Alis, and this Mother fights for equality and understands the importance of freedom.
We first talked to Alis, who asked us to use male pronouns during the interview. We just started from there, we asked how he sees our language and its native rigidity.
“Our language is strange, at least to me! English is a hundred times easier, I'm not saying that from the perspective of a person who doesn't have appropriate available pronouns, but objectively. I choose to use masculine pronouns because it’s kind of easier for me. It's easier for my friends to talk to me. When we speak English I use they / them pronouns, but there is no such thing in Bosnian. For a long time I tried to find a way to avoid using that He or She, but it was not possible. I believe that we will have to have a lot of struggle to accept new words and a new standard in our language. "
On the other hand, the mother saw some freedom in linguistic expression. Although our language is rigid, it is quite rich, we can play with it so easily, but we often don't even think about it. I love to write and talk, especially about my child. See how I used the word "child", not son or daughter. It's up to us, we have to do our best. It is simply liberating for me, if we didn't have a language, my child wouldn't be able to tell me how he feels. That's why I love language, those words somehow free the soul from pain and suffering. "
The next topic we talked about was the proccess of coming out. How Mother overcame her attitudes and her surroundings for the sake of her child’s safety. We asked Mother if it was hard for her to hear that and accept it.
"I laugh every time they ask me if it's hard, of course it is. It’s hard for you when a child tells you they want to change their hair color. It’s hard because you’re kind of used to one thing, I don’t know, we’re human and we’re afraid of change. It was difficult because I didn't understand much, it was all unknown to me. But with the effort my child put in, everything was easier. It's a two-way proccess, I could accept it but without education it would not be "all that". He could also have educated me without me accepting in principle, and then where are we? Nowhere. So it's a 50-50 job. Everyone has to contribute a little. I hope no one misunderstands me, but mothers must be lionesses who will always protect their children."
"I remember how my mother came up to me and gave me a hug. She said everything would be fine. I was falling apart. I was falling apart because I was afraid of additional rejection, a life without support and love. But then my mother convinced me that together we are the strongest and that she really won't leave me just because I want to be honest with myself.” Alis rememberes this event with a smile.
We wish we could transfer all the energy from the room into this article, but it’s not exactly possible. Love exuded the room, their photos are hung everywhere, and the mother just smiles and says she would love to change the world for the good of her Alis. We continued the conversation about how strong the love between a mother and child can be.
"I outed myself to my mother first and then to my father. My father never accepted me, he is just too religious. My mother is also religious, but she never gave up on me or her faith. I remember my dad attacking her and claiming he never wanted to see me again. I know she doesn’t want me to say that to you, but she broke up with my father a year after I came out to them. He just couldn’t accept me, he wanted to throw me out on the street. She was my support system, she chose me and became my shield. I still feel bad because of my dad, I probably always will. But Mother is my everything! I am grateful to her for every part of my being. "
"It's not a matter of choice, there's no choice to be made. The heart says the child is more important than anything and anyone. No one is allowed to touch or hurt my child, no matter who they are." Mother concluded.
Finally, we asked them if they had any messages for our readers. Mother spat this sentence out immediately:
“Love yourself! Love yourself first, then everyone else. I know you want the support of your parents, but if you don’t get them, go look for it in people who will know how to provide it. When your parents reject you, you reject them too. When your parents accept you, then thank them and help them become a full part of your life because they deserve it. "
Once again, through this story, we can see that love is stronger than anything and that love always wins.
Author: Admir Adilović
This article was written as part of the project "Access to Justice for LGBTI persons in Tuzla Canton", which is funded by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. The article does not necessarily express the views of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, but only the author.