Exactly a year ago, "Dhee" - the first lesbian comic character of Bangladesh - was launched. It was a day of such immense celebrations, grand hopes. We sang, we danced, we smiled and we boasted it all. Our happiness shone.
Around five months ago, I sat in the AJ+ newsroom and proudly told my colleagues about Bangladesh's progressive LGBT movement: there's a magazine, there are comic characters, there are workshops. There is momentum.
In less than ten days, things changed. The machetes rose. Blood spilled. People went offline. People hid. People began fearing like we never had before.
In hindsight, it was the beginning of so much more. In a few days - and again in a few months, Dhaka fluctuated between life and silence, between being home and a ghost town, being a place of comfort and a place of conflict. Dhaka became unrecognizable.
I don't know what we've entered into. I don't know what we will become but God, if for one day, we could go back to that place of hope, of dancing and singing out loud, of living with celebrations and not fear, of living in that momentum and not in stagnancy, if for one day we could have that spirit back.
If, one day.
Happy Birthday, Dhee. We still believe.
[Artwork by Project Dhee]