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 ❤

Better than *Me*

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My favorite picture of the lot today. Had the honor of being shot by Ara Alexander. Wonder woman at its best!

A little excerpt from what I’d written back in December while I was preparing for Mr Gay World India, and I’d asked myself “What if it doesn’t work that way?” and this came out of that:

“The biggest problem with us is that we don’t let ourselves accept the fact that it can also happen the other way; that there is a possibility of things clicking. This can’t happen to me because I’m too poor, I’m too under confident, I’m too fat or too thin, I did not grow up in that part of the world, I did not grow up in that era, I can’t think that way because I’m not a writer or that I’m too young or too old. What you heard that other person say is that other person’s story and his/her circumstances. You don’t have to wait for your life to imitate every aspect of that person’s life. What you have to yourself right now is the only thing that matters. And try and achieve your goal a little every day of your life. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to hit you. This very moment you’re reading this could be the perfect moment for you to start something new and exciting. I have a goal because I let myself dream and not even once let myself tell me how it might not happen. Another thing that initially stopped me from giving things a try was my fear of failure. And in the process I realized how failure is in fact  failing to try. If you try and keep fighting all odds, you’re already a winner. Once you start trying there’s another fear you have to tackle-the fear of the unknown. I’m trying and I don’t know if it’s going to lead me that way. But what if it does? And there is a possibility that it doesn’t work that way. But you need to remind yourself constantly that it is still okay for it to not work the way you wanted it to be. Maybe you have something better in store for you?”

One of the reasons why I wanted to be a part of Mr Gay World was so that I could meet more people in life, get to know more varied perspectives and learn and evolve as an individual through the entire process. And while things have worked out pretty well for me, one of the things I’d never expected was how mind bogglingly my relationship with my parents has strengthened through the entire course of Mr Gay World India and beyond. My father and I don’t speak very often, and every time we spoke, we’d end up discussing our extreme opinions with respect to my career choices. I am a dreamer at heart, and I really do want to experiment madly with my life and push myself as much as I can, while my father would insist on me being a little more practical.  Bruce Springsteen had once said, “More than rich, more than famous, more than be happy, I just want to be great!”, and I would totally want to believe him!

So it was the morning of 25th of January when I wake myself up, get dressed thanks to my partner in crime Ashwini and take an auto to somewhere in Bandra where Darshan, my co-contestant picks me up and we head towards Sky Café near Church gate after me having puked in his cab and then forgetting to throw the paper bag out. Almost four hours later I was Mr. Gay World India 2016 and I was absolutely numb. I wanted to be ecstatic, but I was so numb and more importantly so anxious of what the future had in store for me. The week after was all the more over-whelming with me giving interviews everyday and not having enough time to talk to myself and make myself believe that a little dream of mine had actually come true. And I was back in Mumbai a little more than a week after for the Mumbai Pride and it couldn’t have been better. I was made to feel so special, meeting all the people I had someday dreamt of meeting and it was all happening in front of me. Wow! But a part of me still felt pretty empty. And I realized why as I sat down to finally talk to myself after cleaning my ever-so-messy room. The only person I have to compete with is myself! I would’ve never grown as an individual had I been sitting with my phone swiping through pictures of the ever-so-perfect people I follow on Instagram. I only had to be better than what I was. And that’s exactly what I’m planning to take with me to Malta- the best of Anwesh.

Peace out.

 

Pukaar for Chennai

This year Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu in India has been crippled by torrential rains leaving the entire city submerged in water. All sources of communication have come to a halt with people in parts of the city in dire need of your help. You can also do your bit by donating an amount you are comfortable with and picking an artwork in exchange. This is the link to all the artworks submitted by artists from around the world.
You can read all about the initiative by clicking here.
I have also made a submission of the following artwork.

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I request you guys to go ahead and do your bit. 🙂

Love and Light,

The Effeminare

|| Finding Anny ||

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A little something I worked on the other day. Recreating the official Vogue India cover for October with Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh in it.

Anny is a name I was given back in school by my closest set of friends and it sort of has stayed with me even today. 😛 I did a little Googling and it told me Anny is a Hebrew name meaning, “He (God) has favored me” and he indeed has. I am evolving everyday and still trying to understand who I really am and that’s how I came across something important.

I often find people looking down upon effeminacy. More often than not, people do not have an issue with homosexuality. The problem lies in what they have defined as abnormal for them. Anything that does not fit into their definition of normal is weird. Perhaps the problem could be solved by defining a new normal for us all?

“Men must behave like men”, said a man in his description on Grindr (And I agree Grindr is the last place I should be looking for politically correct and intelligent statements!). Isn’t that in some way suggestive of his dislike towards his sexuality? Or maybe he is okay with homosexuality, but has an issue with men being effeminate. One of the biggest problems on earth is how much we hate people like us. More often than not people hate people of their own kind more than the people who’re different than us. When Priyanka Chopra becomes arguably the first Asian to be a face of an American television series as slick as Quantico, it is the Indians who have more of an issue with her success. “Oh her accent is so fake!”, “And now she’s having sex abroad!”.

I feel sad when I see a classmate of mine pointing out how ugly and ordinary-looking Freida Pinto is. No one adores Freida Pinto as much as I do. I look upto her in so many ways than I can count. How many Indians born and brought up in India go abroad and are able to not just be a part of not just inspirational Indie movies but also crack all those big-banners? I really wanted to understand the real reason behind us doing so and I could finally find one- insecurity. One of my acquaintances on knowing my interest in the field of digital art and fashion condescendingly said to me, “But why do you want to be a part of something like Fashion?”

No wait a second, do you know anything about the world of Fashion? Do you know or even remotely understand the work that goes into coming up with something new and interesting in a world where almost everything has been tried and tested  and to top it all execute the same and make it look desirable and wearable enough to the audience?

She was also quick to assert, “I see how you also speak like those gay men I saw on Bigg Boss, may be because you have started living with such people?”

So much has been spoken of the problem with prejudice and the concept of passing a judgment without having even the slightest idea of the bigger picture. And all these people I talk about are educated individuals. Education isn’t only about learning the ability to read and write. Education is developing the ability to think rationally without mindless preconceived notions, the ability to develop a mind of your own and do something substantial for this society that you are a part of. But fuck that shit! “I went to a school so I could get myself a job, a spouse and judge people around me my entire life.”

Logic plays no role in such conversations. We are believed to be living in a country that came up with the concept of Karma, but yeah, ‘Fuck karma! I am going to look down upon what you do and make myself look bigger’. Well, I’m not sure whether someone told you, “You cannot fix yourself by breaking someone else”.

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Siddhant clicked this picture for me on Arushi’s camera and let me tell you I was back from a play and I was effing tired but all the sweat made my skin shine bright, so I ain’t complaining.

Peace in.

And she’s a Coder!

Mawi

‪#‎CoderAtHeart‬
Yes! That’s exactly what ‪#‎TheEffeminareWoman‬ is so passionate about. She loves the language of computers and could never imagine her life without it. She might have found the love of her life now, but deep down she knows what her first love is- Programming!
And who did she decide to Effeminare this time? @mawis_vintage isn’t only a talented blogger. She’s much more than that. Perhaps the most down to earth and hard working person I’ve met. You meet her once and you know why she is the kind of blogger she is today. Good Luck Mawi! You’re doing great.

Also I had the most fun-filled Durga Pooja ever! I’ve already mentioned of my mad-love for this event and this year was no less. I did a little Dilli darshan as well. And here’s a set of pictures from what I wore on one of these days during Durga Puja. Let me know what you think of these.

Also I love being back home. Haryana has one of the most beautiful places on earth and I had the opportunity to visit one of these places. Pratapgarh farms are about sixty kilometers from where I stay and it’s actually the way to the farms that is prettier.

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Following are some pictures I clicked on the day of my visit. ❤

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Wall Art | Location: Pratapgarh Farms, Haryana, India

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Location: Pratapgarh Farms, Haryana, India

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Cousin Love ❤

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Pretty pretty swans! Location: Pratapgarh Farms, Haryana, India

Peace in. 🙂

|| The New Ways ||

So I’m writing this post after quite a while since I posted the last one, and  I’ll tell you why. Lately I’ve been trying to focus on learning new things. I’ve been experimenting with a couple of new ways of making my art look more mature and defined. I’m trying to make my vision clearer and making sure that I don’t get lost in the dark. I want to focus on reading for a while now. A couple of days back, I had a little conversation with someone and I realized how stagnant I’ve become and that perhaps in some ways my writing is lacking elements that a good piece of article usually has. I want to focus on writing about the beauty that lies in the simple things in life. I want to be more versatile. And I am trying to also keep up with the academics in college. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in my posts earlier, but I’m an Electronics and Communication engineering student. In a lot of ways I’ve felt so detached from the course since the very beginning, but I’ve also learned a lot. I didn’t like my course one bit the very first semester. I would try and just run away every time I’d get a chance. I still don’t understand much in class, but what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I’ve learned the importance of deadlines, the amount of talented people we’re all surrounded with, and more importantly the importance of hard work. I can actually go on and on about the past two years, but we’ll do that some other time.

Getting back, since I’m experimenting, you’ll get to see some variety in my illustrations in the coming days. And therefore, ‘The Effeminare’ series might go a little slow for a while now. The story is going to take a lot of interesting turns, and I’m going to try and make them a lot more beautiful and slick, which means I’ll need time since I also have to get my academics a little on track. 😉

Anyways, I’ve made a lot of illustrations in the weekend that just went by. It was Shraddha’s birthday on the 3rd of October and I made this illustration of hers in her pretty blue dress.

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I also ended up making this fashion illustration, something very much in the lines of Shamekh Bluwi (I’m obsessed with his work!). I think I will be making more of these for a while.

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Peace in. 🙂

Queen Of Muzaffarnagar

The Muzaffarnagar riots were one of the worst things that happened to India in a long-long time. It’s a shame that people in our country still fight for issues as shallow as religion and here I am writing a blog aiming at queer acceptance that more often than not seems like a far-fetched dream when even the basic forms of equality is no where to be seen in parts of the country But we’re not losing hope ‘cos we’re either too headstrong or way too naive to be fighting this war. I really wanted to write a story of how powerful ‘queer-ness’ could be. Because I ain’t writing any sob-story. 😉 Read on to know the story of the ‘Queen of Muzaffarnagar.’

Artist At Work Productions

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It was a regular Saturday morning except for the fact that it had been raining for almost a day now. I was sitting on the veranda which also happens to be my favourite part of the house when i heard a familiar voice calling out.

“Arnesh! You know the riots are on right? You shouldn’t be sitting out there in the open.”

“But it’s raining Didi! And I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t kill a kid. Look I also have that cap gun you got me for Diwali last year.”

To which she sighed and said, “I wish they thought like you did!”

Shubham Didi worked as a Math teacher in a nearby school. I was the only one allowed to call her Shubham. I don’t exactly remember when she switched her name to Shobhaa from Shubham but I couldn’t let go of the habit and she was okay as long…

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Aravani Welcomes the Fall!

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This week Aravani is singing the song of love as her favorite season of the year #Fall is almost here. She’s dressed in her favorite dress from the most fun and colorful @itsjeremyscott SS 16 ❤💕 collection straight from the runway and she’s feeling no less than a star. 🎆

Remember the admirer we talked about in the last post? Hasn’t turned up since a fortnight. Does the possibility of love seem dwindling down the air?

A lot of the people have been asking me what the entire series is all about. So I’ve planned to release short Instagram videos for all my three characters in the future posts. You can always keep track of the series by using the hashtags. I’ve worked them all out and there shouldn’t be any issues either on the blog or on my Instagram account. ❤

Also it’s officially Fall! I obviously love fall for obvious reasons. It’s fun, it’s exciting, there are pretty leaves all around and you can finally dress in layers, which is absolutely awesome. Loads of amazing posts coming your way. So stay tuned and paws up!

Peace in! ❤

Did she fall in LOVE?

Mor

It’s only their second date and things seem to be clicking for ‘The Effeminare Woman’ like never before. He’s understanding, is intelligent and more importantly is interested in listening to her. Are things going way too quick, or is it okay to speed it up when you know it’s working? Can you really fall in love with someone in just a week? Stay Tuned. She wanted to feel feminine and sporty all at the same time as she started getting ready for her second date. And to her rescue came the ever-so-stylish Shaurya from @morphologyblog. Don’t you just love the printed blue with a pop of pink jacket?! ❤ Because ‘The Effeminare Woman’ always wants to get it right no matter what.  So I’ll be using the hash tag #Effeminared on my Instagram account from now on when I recreate a look so that you guys can keep a track of all the fashionable people around. Some amazing looks I’ve come across lately, not just from bloggers, but also on the street, and some people from my college. Loads of looks to recreate, so you’ll have to keep up with my work. Stay Tuned.

Also I have a performance today which I’m pretty excited about. Let’s see how it all works out. I’ll post a video on YouTube though. 😉 Now wish me luck. And Paws up! 🙂

Peace in.