Does blackmailing the LGBT Community exists today?

This blog hits right at home, as we have seen it up close and personal. We all by now understand that due to our heteronormative society, it has been very difficult for individuals belonging to the LGBT community to find love and acceptance. There have been many people open and vocal about accepting the community, but the majority of us are still struggling. We know that no-one is the world wishes their child to be born gay or lesbian or transgender, but there are very few families, friends and acquaintances who accept when one such case becomes a reality. As we know the majority of Humans long for companionship, it’s quite difficult to find a partner for these individuals like how ‘heterosexual’ people do. That's what tempts 100’s of young LGBT individuals to join the internet in search of love and affection. It’s essential to understand that the reason why these people go on the internet is not because of being desperate to meet people for random sex or attention, but it’s due to not having any other option.

It's truly said that ‘what happens on the internet, stays on the Internet forever’. Thanks to so many amazing applications like Facebook, Instagram, Grindr and PlanetRomeo, it has been really easy to find people sharing the same sexual orientation. While these amazing applications help in connection with new people, it also brings a risk of being blackmailed, bullied or physically attacked. Today lets focus on the blackmailing part!

It was a few years from now when a 21-year-old gay guy named Sameer who was born and brought up in a middle-class conservative family was just living his normal life dodging between work and college. He felt everything was going well as it should have been, but he always felt a little lonely as he had no companion to share his high’s and low’s with. So just like the any-other teenager, he took a little help of the internet. Set up a counterfeit account with a random picture and started messaging dude’s who would be interested in him. While this exploration was going on, he stumbled upon a guy named Aakash who seemed to clear all his checklist. As cautious as they could get, they kept the majority of the details discreet and just spoke to each other for a few days. Once they realised that they didn’t want to explore any more options they decided to make it exclusive. Sameer started falling in love with Aakash and he always knew how to reciprocate with his words. There started being a small discussion about the future, sharing of pictures etc. They realised that they both live almost at the extreme ends of their country as Sameer was from Mumbai and Aakash from Kashmir.

One pleasant morning, while everything was supposed to be going as per routine, due to some miscommunication Sameer and Aakash argued. In return of accepting the apology, Aakash demanded Sameer's nudes with his face. Sameer felt weird about it but he was way too much invested in the relationship, hence he sent him those pictures. After a few hours of receiving those pictures, he realised that Aakash had started behaving a bit suspicious. He started asking for private information like his address, Facebook ID etc, and that made Sameer freak out. Not knowing what to give and what not to give, he decided to keep his mobile aside and not to respond to him for some while. When he came back, what he saw changed his life forever.

There were around 15 - 20 messages from Aakash threatening Sameer about revealing his secret to his friends and family. He claimed that he found Sameer's Facebook page and would upload his nudes on his Facebook wall. If Sameer wanted to save his reputation he had to pay the price. His initial threat started with Sameer to instantly do a video call and follow all the instructions given by Aakash. (Which he probably screen-recorded for further blackmail.) Things started getting out of hand when Aakash kept conditions like whenever he’d call, Sameer had to pick it up within 3 rings or he would be punished. Sameer was completely helpless as he didn’t know whom to consult or how to handle the situation. He started feeling guiltier for being himself and decided to end his life and part away from all this pain and misery he was going through. He was way too scared to let the secret come out as it would ruin every bit of love and respect his family and friends had for him. There were a few times when he would just go on the building terrace or the balcony of his office and stand there for minutes and think about jumping. As for him, he thought that only death would make it all better for him. Before attempting to kill himself for the last time, he decided to call Aakash and confront him before he could tell him that it was supposed to be his last day. Aakash answered the call and he heard to everything that Sameer has to say. Sameer sobbed and sobbed throughout the entire call asking what his mistake was? Was is the fact that he trusted someone without knowing him or was it the fact that he was gay? after a brief silence, Aakash promised that he will not upload the pictures, disconnected the call and never contacted Sameer again. This incident left a big scar on Sameer and he couldn’t trust anyone else after that, especially on the Internet.

This story somehow has a positive ending with the victim not killing himself and the blackmailer not going ahead and destroying the victim’s life. But this is not the case with every victim, as there are hundreds of people who kill themselves even today, fearing being exposed! Sometimes we feel that these deaths could have been avoided in the first place if these stigmas about homosexuality and people's naked pictures didn’t exist. We somehow feel that our society has given an upper hand to these blackmailers to manipulate and play with the victim’s fear and hidden identity. the worst part is that it happens to more number of LGBT adolescents than we know.

(Hey there, do you know that bottling up emotions somehow affect your mental being and that isn’t safe for your long term mental health. Sameer didn’t have anyone who he could talk about his issues but you most certainly have us. If you need someone to talk to or confide in, contact us at closetedstance@gmail.com or DM us on all our social media platforms and we promise to be there for you and keep everything confidential.)

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Created with compassion by NJN