The threatening messages and death threats started to appear as the gossip spread about Kammer, then 28, coming out as gay. He was told that he would go to hell and that he couldn’t be saved. The messages were from extended family members.
Kammer is half-Thai and half-Pakistani and comes from a conservative Muslim community.
“I’m the black sheep of the family and being around me is actually a sin to some people,” says Kammer, now 35. “Coming out in an Asian family is never really easy. I didn’t feel like I belonged to any groups, specifically my family after being rejected from everybody.”
Kammer Kaan first came out to a few of his cousins in hopes that they would understand and not pass judgement, but he was wrong. The news spread so quickly that his mom found out from others. He got a call from her while he was at the Forks.
“She was so angry with me because of her religion and repeatedly told me I was going to hell and that no one could save me if I stayed this way,” says Kammer.
It was a tough conversation but he tried his best not to get angry or escalate the situation. However, the conversation made Kammer feel like he didn’t deserve love.
His family cut all ties. They didn’t want anything to do with him and his lifestyle. His aunts and uncles told his cousins to distance themselves from him.
Kammer’s mental health deteriorated. The rejection and the death threats only made his depression and anxiety worse.
“I wasn’t man enough. I wasn’t tough enough to deal with things. I wasn’t prayed up enough or I wasn’t being a good enough Muslim. I had suicidal thoughts and my sense of self-worth was completely depleted and I couldn’t function,” says Kammer. “When I brought up the fact to my mom that I suffered with depression of course it was my fault. It was my fault because I was gay… because I was “choosing” this life.”
“She thought it was horrible that people would be so cruel to me during this time of mourning. I think that is when she came around,” says Kammer. “We addressed how the family was treating me and I guess she didn’t want to be a part of that problem… I think it clicked with her.”
The two sat down and had a real conversation about Kammer’s pain and depression.
He faked being sick so he could stay in bed, or cancel plans.
Kammer and his mom didn’t speak for six months. Within that time Kammer saw a life coach, took prescription drugs for depression and took part in healing circles.
Then one day he was at a family funeral with his mom. His aunt asked him to leave, and his mom stood up for him.
“When I came to her with confidence, she then understood. She then saw an example of her son who is living a gay life, is happy, making money and doing his thing,” says Kammer. “After I broke through and felt love for myself, she felt it too. She felt it was okay to love me because I was loving myself.”
Kammer makes a conscious effort to sing a song or dance every day to instill happiness in his system. He still sees his life coach. He also makes an emphasis to practice self-care like taking baths, going on dates with his husband and starting a podcast that is dedicated to giving a voice to those not often heard, particularly in the LGBT community.