The Indelible Muck

complete-picture

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.

 

Ugly Enough to be Mr. Gay World India

I don’t think I would’ve ever thought about writing an article about this, especially months after having been through the sort of Internet bullying I was subjected to, not that it made me feel any less fabulous about myself (mostly because I honestly don’t give a fuck). But I’m very well aware of what the general mentality of the entire gay community in our country is like and you might not know, but you could be affecting someone else’s self-esteem majorly and you really shouldn’t. I was blessed enough to have a childhood where my parents never told either of me or my sister that we had to be fair enough and well-built enough and good-looking enough to achieve our dreams in life. Neither of us were insecure of the way we looked, or wished for our butts to be bigger, for our noses to be longer and sharper, or for our jaw lines to be more well-defined to be successful in our life. However, the only thing we were time and again reminded of was how we had to be more focused, how we must meditate to concentrate better and never stop learning to be better versions of ourselves. But interestingly, not many of us seem to have been taught of any of this through all those years we managed to exist. Minutes after I won Mr. Gay World India in the month of January, the social media was exploding with, “He’s too ugly to represent our country”, “Oh he didn’t even bother to shave his beard before the pageant”, “He’s too dark to represent me!”, “India couldn’t find a hotter representative?” I laughed them all off! And I’m not trying to be my beauty pageant politically correct self here. Not one bit! If you know me, you’d also know how head-strong I am when it comes to sticking to my conscience and standing by what is right. And I’ll tell you why it didn’t affect me. Because I was made to feel so small each day I went to school, that nobody could’ve made me feel any lesser about me and my existence. I never expected people to find me beautiful on the outside, because it is hardly what defines me. But in the last couple of days I’ve come across way too many friends of mine who keep telling me how they don’t think they’re beautiful, and that is a problem. The way you look on the outside is nothing more than simple grooming. And all your face lifts and beefed up chests can never compensate for your inner darkness.

 

 

Nobody saw through how Mr. Gay World India and Mr. Gay World challenged traditional notions of beauty and gave everyone the right to feel beautiful about their selves. And why exactly should I feel any less pretty of the way I look? Because I didn’t fit into your stupid fucked up and limited notions of beauty? Or that you couldn’t come out of your virtual world of Grindr and Instagram filters? Come out of your little shell and let yourself be a part of the world of possibilities. Value yourself with the number of great books you’ve read over your WhatsApp texts, or the number of lives you could change for the better over the number of guys/girls you slept with (do it because you want to, not because you want to tell the world how cool your life is over theirs). You are perfect the way God made you and you don’t have to compare yourself with others (even though we’re all guilty of it). Interestingly, while I was being picked on for being way too ugly to represent India, my good friend Esteban, Mr. Gay Argentina 2016 was being picked on for being his muscular self and not being a representative of the average gay men across his country.

We live in a world today where body-image issues make up a huge part of our life, unfortunately, and that is a very dangerous world to live in. If I don’t judge you for the gazillion surgeries and implants you’ve got to achieve your perfect notion of beauty, please refrain from judging me from the surgeries I chose not to get done on myself. He made me beautiful. He made you beautiful. I am beautiful.

Peace out.