Malki Perera; Happinez

By Shania Perera 

Photo Saman Abesiriwardana

So Malki, tell us about yourself.

I completed my O/Ls in 2013. Afterthat, I began my first relationship during the first year of A/Ls. There were many complications with her, my sexuality, and my parents. The school atmosphere wasn’t the best for me either, so I quit and studied photography at a well-known campus and got my first diploma. After that, I started working on small projects and later, catered to a bigger platform on social media.

When have you been the most satisfied in your life?

My diploma was mainly focused on advanced camera settings. After I got my diploma, I was curious as to how deep I could go into the field of photography. From that point onward, I was mainly engaged in self-learning through videos and tutorials online which helped me form my ideas and later, helped me produce my own work. Nothing is more satisfying to me than saying: “Hey, I managed to do this all by myself with my own hard work.”

Who inspired you?

Myself. I had a lot of problems because of my sexuality, and knowing that it is considered taboo in Sri Lanka, I wasn’t very open with everyone, and this cost me many connections and opportunities. Fortunately, I found myself through photography and it made up for lost time and relationships in my life. People now love me for my work and I’m more than grateful.

Who is your role model and why?

My dad. He was the first one to come to terms with my sexuality. Don’t get me wrong; initially, he was hurt and shocked that I didn’t tell him and he had to find out on his own, but he spoke to me and accepted me for who I am. He supported me through all the hard times, especially with my work. He stood beside me every step of the way and I’m blessed to have him as my father.

What things do you not like to do?

I don’t like to do things just for shock-value or attention. I like to be original and I don’t want to do things for the sake of it. Plagiarism is a big no in my opinion.

Tell me about projects you consider the most significant in your life.

I mostly created travel videos about Colombo and Hikkaduwa. The most well received and significant project was the video based on Colombo. It’s an insight to the city. I got a lot of positive feedback on YouTube and Instagram because of that video; it brought me more opportunities in this field.

Tell me about a time things didn’t go the way you wanted.

Well, when I had my first relationship, I was a confused teenager. I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know the outcome of that relationship. Everything was so limited and needless to say, society was not in my favour. I love to create and had an immense appreciation for art since I was small, but there were many obstacles I had to overcome. I don’t regret anything because it shaped me to be who I am today.

Where do you see yourself in a year?

I’m not expecting anything big, but I have a plan to expand my work and I’m also planning to produce short films and inspirational content on my platform that my audience can relate to. I expect to make a difference in how Sri Lankans perceive the LGBTQ community through my work and I’m going to start small and reach new heights in the future.

What is your message to our young readers who are confused regarding their sexuality?

Some people are still schooling and confused. My advice to them is to give it some time and take it slow. I know it’s hard because you think about coming out all the time but you fear the consequences.

Take your time and don’t force yourself to do anything you don’t want to. Changing your personality to fit into other people’s expectations should not be a solution. At the end of the day, even your parents should accept you and try not to change who you are. In the future, it will create many complications for you and those around you if you conform to the norm.

Finally, tea or coffee?

Definitely coffee! I need coffee to function daily.