The Indelible Muck

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To one incredible year of being Mr. Gay World India, 2016. The B/W pictures were shot in Malta, Europe during the pageant by Bradley Secker. You can find more of Bradley’s work here.

 

When I’d started off Effeminare back in 2014, (amidst all the resistance that there was) I believed that if I could reach out to even one individual, then that would be enough. While walking through the stats for my November post, I realized my posts have reached 38 countries ranging from Canada, USA, Netherlands, Germany, Guernsey, Belgium, Italy, France, Qatar, UAE, Seychelles, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal to Japan. I honestly hadn’t heard the names of a few of those countries, and I’m very sorry that I hadn’t. I made it a point to locate the ones I didn’t on the map, and read about them.  And, if you’ve read my posts, a big THANK YOU! It means the world to me that you made the time to hear my story and I hope that you’ll keep coming back and keep sharing the love. Looking back, I still can’t decipher what had gotten into my 18 year old-self, that made me so headstrong, so I wrote anyway. Back in the day, that it was ‘difficult’ would be an understatement. Nobody around me spoke of homosexuality and I never looked for refuge on the Internet, mostly because I hardly used social media. The only gay man I’d met was a hostel-mate from the same batch. His world was my door to the world of homosexuality- from music, to films, to literary works, it was insane! I’d sit in my room and watch hours of Freddie Mercury on the Internet. I really am obsessed with Mercury, his audacity gave me the power to own my sexuality. It’s been 3 and a half years since, I’ll complete my graduation this summer (that’s also if I don’t fail any of my courses this sem!), and I’m definitely not a naive 18 year old anymore, who’d walked into IIIT knowing nothing about the world. However, I’ll always be very proud of that 18 year-old who simply believed and was persistent. I’ll never and I really hope that I never let go off that 18 year-old within me.

I also want to thank each one of you who has reached out to me through all these months. While I haven’t been able to reply to each one of them, I’m extremely over-whelmed to receive all the love and support I have and I really hope you will continue to keep up with the same. Effeminare also began with a belief that I’ll get to share the positivity and joy that I’d experienced when I came out. I’ll be 22 this July and I still can’t process the fact that I’ll complete six years of coming out. So much has happened in these past six years, and I honestly can’t wait to finish my graduation and finally move into something I truly have always wanted to do. I’m still not giving out what it will be, but I can assure you, it is my happy space and I hope that it turns out well. 🙂 I’ve also had an incredibly busy past year, I’ve had the opportunity of seeing the world a little more and I’ve been my busiest self on the social media. Those who’ve been following me prior to Mr. Gay World India, also know that I’m not a very social media savvy person. To be very honest, I still feel like there’s nothing in the world that I’m best at. I feel a little empty artistically and I have soo much to learn, I would really want to gift myself that time and space for the next two years. While I’m very happy to see how well ‘Fitting Out’ has performed and how well it has reached people, it has also been a financially difficult year for me (despite of all the financial help I had from my family and colleagues). I’d be lying if I say I don’t think over a hundred times before spending my money over anything. I’m still a 21 year old student, and no matter what, I can never take up a well-paying job at this point of time with the strict academic curriculum of IIIT, which not to mention is doubly hard for me since I don’t have a strong aptitude for Electronics. I understand that money isn’t everything, but as Shah Rukh Khan had very rightly said, “There’s nothing romantic about being poor.” The work that I do opt for with the limited time I have, is enough as pocket money, but definitely not enough to pay my bills yet. So yes, I think I’ve found my true calling and I’m surely going to prioritize focusing and building a set of skills in my field of interest so I could also keep up with my campaigning, something that really drives me. I know how deep down within, no matter what work I take up tomorrow, I’ll always spare a part of it to a cause I truly believe in.

So coming to why I’d started writing this post! I’ve often heard people talking about why do I write about acceptance for the LGBTIQ community so much, or that I nag and correct people every time they make a derogatory joke. To add to that, it saddens me to see that four years since I joined IIIT and came out, I still continue to be the only out homosexual in our institute. I’ve seen students around at least make an effort to keep a check on their speech because I was around, I wonder if that’ll happen once I graduate this year. A couple of days back I’d posted on Instagram, a screenshot of some male chauvinism going around in the comments’ section to one of my belly dancing videos. I’m not going to post it here again, because I don’t want any of that filthy conversation on my blog. I was amazed by how the two boys had nothing but random cuss words to throw at people who tried rectifying them, and to add to that they were also verbally abusive and didn’t spare my girlfriends.

I have absolutely no issues dealing with hate on the social media or otherwise. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with hate and homophobia, and unfortunately this won’t be the last either. Then why did I choose to speak out this time, you ask? I’m not on any self-healing journey by posting about the conversation here. The reason why we sometimes need to speak out, is so that we can let such people know that they are wrong, because unfortunately most people don’t. When you don’t speak out, you are actually fostering their thought process. What bothers me, is that these two boys are the face of a larger popular mindset that has grown on patriarchy and don’t have the balls to face the fact that they are in fact wrong. What’s worse than making a mistake, is not accepting the same. That they don’t have an ounce of regret and the audacity to write such filth on the social media is indicative of the venomous generic attitude our society has been fostering. Are we really teaching our boys well enough? Are we really making them sensitive enough towards individuals other than their own kind? Would these boys really grow up to respect the women in their lives? What if tomorrow their children come out to them as LGBTIQ? Will those children have a safe environment to grow up in? Think of these questions when next time you ask me why I chose to speak out, and perhaps why you should too.

Peace out.

 

| Why we should all be Humanists |

Art Love

 

The recent attack on Pulse, a gay bar in Orlando has been immensely shocking and devastating and has been a huge jolt to the LGBTIQA community from the entire world. Enough speculations have been made on how the attacker was a closeted homosexual and had been a regular at Pulse himself. But the attack is a reminder of how we are falling short in making the world aware of our presence and why we too deserve a life of respect, dignity and above all a safer environment.

Almost everyday as I woke up in the last couple of days, I’d come across the story of an innocent gay man or a wonderful couple who lost their lives in this deadly massacre- the worst the US has ever seen. But what breaks my heart even more is how all of this is the result of a single ignorant man who was probably unable to come to terms with his own sexuality or his shallow pride and took to guns to bring an end to his own turmoil. It’s a shame we have to deal with such issues in 2016, almost forty years since Harvey Milk stood up for our rights and eventually died fighting for them. I really am not sure if we can in any possible way change the thought-processes of millions of stubborn minds out there. Sometimes it is futile for us to think that they could get some sense into their lives and you really can’t do much about it because well, people are rigid! When you’ve lived half or more than half of your life believing in something so strongly and then suddenly someone comes up to you and tells you, “Well you know what? You’ve been wrong all along!”, there simply is no way for them to give in! For example, no matter how much I could try and talk to my parents, they’d never be okay with pre-marital sex. My mum went berserk when she saw 7 condoms from Love My Condom gifted to me by Bernie- Mr. Gay New Zealand and then went all the more crazy when she saw a post I’d shared on Facebook with a picture of those condoms. I might have given my 200% to change their mindsets but if you yourself are not willing to, then there’s really nothing that I or you could do about it. But there’s a solution. We can make sure that our future generation doesn’t have to suffer. We can teach our kids at school that there is so much more to gender than just the existence of a man and a woman and that is okay to blur that line between the two, that it is okay for a guy to dress up in skirt and wear heels, that it is okay for a woman to not want to wear a bra and ride a bike, that it is okay for you to not want to be a man or a woman. I’m extremely happy to see the rise of feminism in the world. The rise of the concept of how men and women must be treated equally and given equal opportunities to learn and prosper in their respective lives. We do have a long way to go, especially in India where a substantial chunk of the female population knows nothing of what feminism is or stands for, but there’s hope and I choose to be optimistic.

But I’m here to talk about the people who don’t exactly fit into these two distinct categories of men and women. And there’s a lot of them. Enough for us to know and understand who they really are and why we need to talk about them. It’s sorta funny when I sit back and think about this issue. Mankind has existed for 200,000 years and the human civilization as we know it has been there for 6000 years yet we have failed miserably to understand our very own-self.  Just think over it. 6000 years of civilization and we’re still fighting for equal rights for women, half of my country still doesn’t know what homosexuality is and a major chunk of  the ones who know haven’t been able to grow out of their pea-sized brains to accept us for who we are, and let’s not even get to the stigma and the trauma that trans-individuals go through every f*cking day of their lives! The fact that it is so difficult for me to reach out to schools and persuade them to let me speak on sexuality and understand gender beyond the concept of a man and a woman is enough to prove the plight of every LGBTIQ individual in the world. We have manged to create the most ridiculous myths and stories around what God wants us to do, but have failed to understand the very foundation of God’s existence- love, care and acceptance. I wish there was a thing that would enable us to swap our lives for a day. I’m not even asking for more, just that one single day! And we’ll see what they’ll have to say then. All that you need to be happy is an open mind, a book and loads of hope. But look at how we’ve complicated our lives! I only wish for us to be humanists. Equal rights and opportunities for all of us human beings irrespective of our gender identity or sexual orientation. Let us all be humanists.

 

Love and Light

Anwesh ❤

#FittingOut Stories

Like I had mentioned in my previous posts, I had taken my campaign #FittingOut to the Annual Delhi Pride Parade this year and had asked people to share their Fittingout stories. They were all so beautiful and moving and I’m so glad to be finally putting all of them together for you guys to read. So *drum rolls* and here it goes:

1.

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“Like most of the introvert kids in my school, I tried fitting into groups that led to me being a kind of individual I wasn’t. And I resented that a lot! Not bothering yourself with the negative things that people have to say about you only leads to a positive discovery of oneself.”

 

2.

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“I was a little tomboyish at school and I never liked wearing skirts and all the other stuff that women are supposed to wear. I’m usually very friendly with people and that was also why I was so popular at school. So yeah, I’m happy fitting out and I think if you fit out you make an identity for yourself.”

 

3.

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“I’ve always supported LGBTQI rights and I think it’s absolutely normal. But my parents and my acquaintances have always asked me to not put forth my views out in the public. But I do that anyways.”

 

4.

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“I had no particular group that I belonged to in school. In fact I was that one girl who was mostly punished during classes. I have curly hair and people would often want me to have them straightened.

I think love is love. The queer community is so misunderstood and people aren’t exactly aware of their struggles and the challenges they face. People are always so quick to judge them which I think needs to change.”

 

5.

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“I’ve come out only recently to myself as bisexual and this is my second pride, however the first after coming out to myself. Though my office colleagues very actively support the queer community, I haven’t come out to them yet.”

 

6.

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“I used to play the female characters in school plays and most of my guy friends were cool with it. In fact I was in an all boys’ school, so the guys had to play the female parts and while all other boys would run away, I’d happily volunteer. My parents weren’t aware of my trans-fluidity until a year ago, in fact my dad still doesn’t know but my mum supports me a lot and has given me the freedom to be who I want to be.”