Why you need to learn to say No!

img_20161024_171847

Picture from yesterday’s event at IIT Delhi in collaboration with Gaylaxy magazine. It was good to meet some very accepting group of people and spreading some Rainbow Love. ❤

 

 

I have been trying to get this out of my system for long now, but let’s just say it has been pretty difficult. In fact to put it in simple words, I’ve been scared to even talk about it, simply because it involves someone so influential and someone who I truly admired and we unfortunately don’t live in a world where we talk as much about men being sexually abused or touched inappropriately. I have read and heard so much about it from friends and my acquaintances that the possibility of it happening to me seemed next to impossible, since I tend to think a lot before making any decision in my life. We’re never taught to tackle such situations in our lives, and many a times we don’t even realize or understand that it has already happened to us. A couple of days back, a friend of mine mentioned how he was in an abusive relationship for long, never realizing that he himself was in one. He said, “Imagine me? A Yale and Harvard graduate and even I didn’t have the sensibility to understand I was being abused!”

Since I won Mr. Gay World India in January this year, I have been working on my campaign ‘Fitting Out’, and very actively meeting influential and inspiring people from the LGBTIQ community. While it it has been a very fulfilling and enriching experience for me, needless to say, I also very often get approached by men to spend a night with them, which I can only politely refuse to. Only days after I won the title, I very well understood how difficult it is to carry the responsibility of winning a crown and the hard work and constant dedication that goes into living up to your role as the reigning Mr. Gay World India, which is all the more tough since I’m still in college. Every time I meet someone officially, I prefer talking to them at their office with people around or at a busy coffee shop or a market place. A few days back, I went to meet one of these many officials to discuss a possible collaboration and an awareness campaign with respect to the LGBTIQ community. Let’s call this official Mr. X. Mr. X happens to be an influential and wealthy figure in the community, and like I mentioned, happened to be someone I truly admired. I received a text asking me to meet him at his hotel room late at night for a longer conversation. I had met Mr. X prior to this one very briefly, and I was very happy with the idea of a possible collaboration. With sheer respect for him and his time, I agreed to meet him at his mentioned time, which I honestly would’ve never agreed to had it been anyone else. And while all this happened, not even once did it ever strike me that he could ever have any other intentions other than just an official meet. Another reason why it also never struck me was because Mr. X happens to be married and is older than my father (which on a second thought shouldn’t have stopped me from thinking otherwise). He had also mentioned that he was going to reach the city late and therefore had asked me to visit him at that time. So I went up to meet him, where we exchanged ideas related to our respective campaigns. I went to wash my hands and we were still talking while I was in the washroom when I felt his hands fondling my hair and touching me at the back of my neck. I was instantly uncomfortable. Moments later I find his arms around me, with him trying to kiss my ears. I was shocked, so grossed out by his behavior, and honestly so scared that I didn’t even know how I could’ve pushed him away.  A series of questions ran through my mind, “What is he trying to do to me?”,“How can he even think of doing this to me?”, “How can I raise my voice?”, “But he’s simply too powerful!” I finally gathered the courage and said, “I have to leave!” and rushed out of the room. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who to talk to. I called an Uber and went back home. I couldn’t get his smell off of me. I kept blaming myself for what had happened. How could have I been so naïve? How could someone of his stature do this to me? How can I speak out being a man? I was appalled by his behavior and with time realized how lucky I was to have walked out of it safe and sound. I’m also very grateful for the friends, my family and my mentors who have supported me through this.

It is only when it happens to you that you understand the trauma and dejection you feel when you undergo such situations in life. I can only imagine the hardships that individuals who’ve been sexually abused for years (by the most unexpected people) go through.  I shared my story with a couple of my friends and realized I wasn’t alone. A friend of mine mentioned how her tuition teacher would try touching her breasts every time she went to his class, another mentioned how this guy she was kissing once, suddenly started forcing himself on her and wouldn’t let her go when she refused. But something else was common to all our stories. We did not know how to refuse. We didn’t know how we could’ve stopped what was happening to us. We, especially the men are never taught to deal with such situations. Perhaps, one of the ways we could stop it is by speaking out? Go to someone who you believe. Be strong and courageous and don’t let anyone else touch you without your consent. While reading more stories online, I came across this incredible quote by a writer named Miri:

“Just like you wouldn’t touch a bag or a purse that belongs to someone else, don’t touch a body that belongs to someone else–which, by definition, is every body except your own.”

 

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.

IMG_20151202_192316

“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.

DSC_2806

“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.

Screenshot_2015-12-29-11-56-21_1451370511094

“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.

Screenshot_2015-12-29-11-56-09_1451370478227

“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.

IMG_20151206_190254.jpg

“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.

Screenshot_2015-12-29-12-19-52_1451371925191.jpg

“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.”

 

When Aravani got herself a club for Queers

12

Aravani is obsessed with Asifa Lahore and following in her footsteps, Aravani has opened up a night club exclusively for the Queer community in Delhi where she often performs. She has also been helping some teenagers finding it difficult to come out by taking time out of her schedule and meeting and talking to them personally. Meanwhile she’s found some admirers in the club. But there’s someone she finds pretty interesting. Who is he and what is he like? Stay Tuned to know more. Much Love ❤

I think a few weeks ago I came across Asifa Lahore’s hilarious music video Jimmy which is a remake of Mia’s Jimmy, which itself is a remake of Mithun’s popular song from the eighties- Jimmy! Jimmy! JImmy! Aaja! Aaja! Aaja! Remember? Anyways, that sort of took me to all of the most inspiring interviews of this incredible man named Asif Qureshi for whom drag is more than just gaudy makeup and clothes, it is a way of life. Asifa Lahore is one of the first out drag queens and how! A recent documentary of hers (that was showed on Channel 4 in the UK) was widely talked about. She talks about how she gets mails from troubled teenagers trying to fit in, to hate mails with people telling her how she’s a disgrace to the Muslim community and that she must be killed. But here she is, living her life proudly as a Muslim drag and fab. More power to people like her.

Peace in.