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 you should talk about Sex and Sexuality with your Ma and Pa

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Mum and Pa ❤

 

I very clearly remember this one time my father, my sister and I were watching ‘Gladrags Supermodel Hunt’ on television  way back in 2003-04 or probably before that and they had a swimwear round. So they had all the men and women parading down the ramp in thongs and under-wears and there was suddenly a strange awkwardness in the room. My sister and I looked at each other and my father quickly changed the channel. And I guarantee you this is the story of every middle-class Indian’s household. We never spoke about sex. In fact till the time I was fourteen I still thought sex was a bad word and should be never brought up in a conversation. So now you know I grew up real slow!

When I came out to my parents before my nineteenth birthday, I remember my father smiling at me. But it was his usual nervous smile. He didn’t know how to react. My mother on the other hand was very vocal about her disbelief in her son’s sexuality, condemning it at once and went all berserk saying, “This is all the result of those English films you watch all the time. It’s the Western culture getting into your system.” Then followed those months of crying and cribbing over how God had been so unkind to her and unjust with her and no willingness to accept any logical explanation to her crazy list of questions. Their denial was the toughest part. It was frustrating and I couldn’t believe the fact that it was happening to me? An openly gay guy at his college who’s never let anyone bully him and has strongly asserted his sexuality with pride? But interestingly for the first time in years, my father wanted to talk about sex with me. We had a very long conversation where he brought up topics I would’ve never in my wildest dreams thought of him to be talking about with me. It was insane! We spoke about sex, sexuality, attraction, masturbation to pornography. And I’m so glad he did! But he wished for only one thing from me- to never write about my sexuality openly on a social networking platform, which was impossible for me to do but I totally appreciated the fact that he was only being a protective father. But I also got a very genuine advice from a teacher who asked me to never give up on my parents no matter how politically incorrect their arguments were.

I really wouldn’t have ever expected how wonderfully my father stood beside me every time I was in a fix during the entire phase of me preparing for Mr. Gay World. He held my hand and walked me through the toughest times, gave me a hug when I needed it the most, helped me emotionally and financially without even questioning me twice. Neither of my parents ever questioned me when they saw my pictures in a swimwear, which honestly is a big deal given how we grew up. Coming Out is difficult anywhere in the world and more so for our parents who have grown up in a hetero-normative society. Be real patient with your parents, respect them for who they are because the only people who will stand beside you when you’re in a fix are your parents with their undying support and belief in you. Words fail to express how grateful I am to my parents. They truly are the real support-system in my life and I’m so very blessed to have them.

 

Love and Light

Anwesh

A Gender And Sexuality Glossary For Parents

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I’ve always felt that it is extremely important for people to be aware of the vocabulary that is appropriate to use when referring to the LGBTIQ community, more so amongst kids so as to ensure that tomorrow they grow up to become responsible, sensitive and mature citizens of the country. As a result I collaborated with Swaddle– a parenting website for people who don’t like parenting websites. You can read the entire piece here. Here’s a small excerpt from the piece:

“Only a week after I’d won Mr. Gay World India, I received a call from a television channel. During the interview, I was asked whether I was okay with being referred to as the son of Jagannath Sahoo (my father), or whether I was more comfortable being identified as his daughter.

I was taken aback and, to be honest, befuddled. Here was an educated journalist, from a leading news channel, with absolutely no knowledge of the terminology he ought to use to refer to a gay man. The journalist might have thought he was being courteous by letting me choose how I wanted to be identified. But his sheer lack of awareness was insensitive and offensive. I am a gay man. Why would I identify as someone’s daughter?”

Love and Light

Anwesh

Beautiful You

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The last couple of days have been extremely over-whelming with all the attention, love (mostly) and support I’ve received from the people around me and I will always be very grateful for every bit of it. This is going to be a completely self-introspective post and therefore parts of it might seem completely out of the blue, but I really feel like this is necessary and because it is something I’ve been wanting to share for some time now. I don’t think I ever grew up believing in the importance of self-worth, but over the years I’ve come to learn the importance of the same and I’m glad I did. But something that still bothers me is the way we define beauty standards for ourselves. The way we define beauty for ourselves is sometimes also the way we learn to value ourselves. But the definition is so limited and perhaps sometimes so wrong, especially because of how we are made to perceive beauty in terms of what we watch on our television sets or our social networking feeds or the books that we read, that it needs to change. I’ve mostly grown up with people telling me how dark-skinned I am or how my hair is never perfect or that my demeanor isn’t exactly the way it should be, which for that matter has never bothered me and hopefully never will. But I’m also aware of how it does affect a lot of people out there and that this very fact also needs to change.

Black hair, white skin, abs and long legs aren’t what ‘the perfect beauty’ stands for and never will. That perfect selfie you’ve been drooling over on Instagram is perhaps the best picture out of the hundred pictures that person took from that perfect angle with that perfect filter. 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).

#rantover #Haveagreatdayahead

Nehima’s #FittingOut Story- “I’m Asexual”

Firstly, a very Happy New Year to you guys! This is officially my first post of the year, so yay! Anyway my first post this year is another Fitting Out story that I’ve been eagerly waiting to share. And here it goes:

” When I realised I was asexual I had hit puberty and my classmates were getting increasingly sexual. I, on the other hand, remained the same. The apparent change in sexuality was more pronounced when I shifted to a new school. I was still the same person. I knew all the jargon but felt none of the hormonal urges. I read up a lot about what I was missing out on. I didn’t, however, read anything on asexuality because I did not know that such a term existed. So I hid behind a mask of knowledge and double meaning jokes. I faked it till I could convince everyone that yes, I wanted to make out with that cute boy. But I never believed it. Once I entered eleventh grade, any ounce of sexuality I may have had (highly unlikely) was further pushed in the background till it merged with the obscure blankness of the unknown. This was the time when I didn’t care about the fact that I had friends or not. I became secluded (not related to asexuality but to the fact that I started reading novels and studying). My friends were the boys in my group with whom I discussed problems and novel storylines (they read too, much to my surprise). I made a few strong friends here, some of whom I still talk to. Anyway, I digress. So, still asexual. I first heard the term while reading about LGBT. I wanted to know what was happening to me (I thought maybe I was a lesbian). No one knew much about it at that time but the definition of asexuality clicked with me. I knew that I was an asexual. I never told anyone about it though.

    When I told my family about being an asexual I completed my school without any event and entered college. It was a fun transition for me, one that I enjoyed a lot. I got to start over with a completely new and random set of people. I cut my hair short, changed my wardrobe (mom helped with that), and slept off the exhaustion of the last two years. But I still was an asexual. I saw how the females reacted in the presence of attractive males and my reaction wouldn’t be the same. They noticed this and I was mockingly termed half-male, half-female. I had no issues with that and I went along with this label. They didn’t mean any harm. After my first year, I made amazing friends. I met two brave individuals (Anwesh and a boy from my school) who are homosexuals and who are supported by their family and friends. I saw the love they got and thought of telling my family. This asexuality posed a problem for any possibility of marriage since my parents want me to have an arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage, the poor unsuspecting husband wouldn’t know that his wife is an asexual and doesn’t want to have sex. He would expect sex and would feel cheated. So, I had ruled out marriage a long time ago (since the time I realised that I was an asexual) unless I fall in love with a man who understands what he’s getting into and still wants me. I sat my parents down and told them that I wouldn’t get married, definitely not an arranged marriage. They reacted with shock. I put forward my reasons (asexuality being the brightest point). My parents said that this was a good thing and that I would grow out of it once I got married. I said that I wouldn’t. This was permanent. It wouldn’t change. They refused to listen, to understand. So I let it pass resolving to tell them this again. My sibling reacted much better and was genuinely happy for me. Fast forward one year. I decided to tell my parents once again, this time separately. So, father first. Same response, “it’ll pass, it’s good that you don’t feel this right now” and nervous giggling. My mother, too, reacted the same way. My only option was to make them read articles on asexuality. They both support the LGBT campaign. They would support this too once they realised that I won’t just ‘get over it’. And I did just that. Third time’s the charm I guess because my parents finally understood what I was talking about and supported me. I still have not told my friends and other members of my family but over time, I will. Till then, I shall remain anonymous.”

— Nehima

12 Things 2015 Taught Me about Life

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I did this picture with Savi for her college magazine. So much fun every time we do pictures together. :’)

 

2015 has by far been the most fulfilling and secure year of my life. I happily walked out of a relationship where I wasn’t an equal with my head held high, became fully aware of how I can’t make everyone happy in the world, met complete strangers in life who brightened my day up at once, made friends almost instantly who went on to become my closest set of friends and finally realized how sometimes in life some things can mean so much to you that you’re literally ready to give it all that you have.  Here’s a roundup of the twelve lessons I learned in 2015 about life:

  1. I had a lot of fun, and it isn’t fun.
  2. You can be the sweetest peach in the world, but there’s still going to be someone who doesn’t like peaches.
  3. Grow up, never become an adult. Adults are boring. If you are always trying way too hard to be normal you’ll never know how amazing you can be.
  4. There’s always going to be someone a lot better than you, someone a lot more talented than you are, and someone who has been working a lot harder than you have. And that’s exactly why one should never stop pushing oneself to get better.
  5. Allow me to quote Paulo Coelho here, “And, when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you achieve it”. ‘nuf said!
  6. Don’t wait for life to be perfect. What you have right now is perfection. If you don’t value what you have today, you’ll never learn to value it tomorrow. Don’t wait for your life to get back on track. Make the best of what you have right now. There’s always something wonderful today, that you might not have tomorrow.  The glass is never half empty. It is always full-half with water and the other half with air.
  7. Life is service. Service is joy. We’re all here to make a difference. You don’t necessarily have to change the world, but you can always do your bit and the universe will take care of itself.
  8. Experiment! Not everything in life has to lead to something. Don’t be scared to take risks in life. Remember, if someone has done it, you can do it too. If someone hasn’t done it yet, then you should definitely do it. Take a chance, follow your instincts. You’re going to walk out of it stronger and wiser than ever.
  9. You’re not going to be always right. Don’t let your pride over-shine you. Make your mistakes, and more importantly accept them. That’s the only way you’ll learn to correct them.
  10. Never stop learning. Like ever!
  11. You deserve all the happiness on earth. Work hard, be good, and let yourself be a good student, your life will be a great teacher.
  12. Life is magic. And don’t you dare stop believing in magic!

 

Love and Light

The Effeminare

#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.”

 

#FittingOut

Back in 2011, I chose to be a part of a dance routine at my school’s Annual day that turned out to be the beginning of a new me. It was a semi classical dance routine and had ninety girls with me being the only guy.

One of the girls came up to me and condescendingly asked me, “Are you too a part of the group?” I said yes. She gave me a look and walked off. That upset me and this particular episode stayed with me for a while and I kept thinking of how difficult it was for me to fit in. Then Steven Retchless in his high heels happened to me and I realised how I did not have to be sorry for being who I am.

I didn’t have to fit in anymore. I’d rather be ‪#‎FittingOut‬. Because you’re original and you were meant to stand out. I was also there at the Annual Delhi Pride Parade with my campaign and I’ll be sharing all the interesting Fitting Out stories I came across in the future posts.

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And now for the bigger news I had been waiting to share with all you guys. I made it through the first round for Mr Gay World India 2016 and I am also done shooting the pictures for the same. I have been working very hard for the competition and it has been a dream since 2012. I am currently waiting for the results for the next set of rounds. MGW would be a huge platform for me to voice my opinion and belief and do my bit  in bringing a positive change in the world. Let’s hope for the best and #Fingerscrossed.

It also makes me super happy to finally share the #FittingOut campaign video. This would not have been possible without Rahul from Artists at Work Productions backing this video since the beginning. This man is the boss. I can’t thank all my friends enough for being a constant support. Let’s make this world a place where being queer isn’t looked down upon. We all deserve to live a life filled with happiness and respect. Let’s all put a little of our efforts into making that dream come true.

 

Love and Light,

The Effeminare

 

 

 

 

 

The Mouse I share my room with

Nothing beats the happiness of a semester that has just ended. No really, it’s been a tough semester and I know I’ve grown stronger with the end of this one. It is no less than a war fighting assignments, projects and the one and half hour long lectures every semester. Engineering is no funny business. I’ve cried for hours struggling with the academics, I have tried hard at every lab exam I had to attend, noting down values I wouldn’t understand, practicing math equations I would hardly follow, but I tried. I’ve learned a lot from my eighteen year old self in the first semester who did not have much to look forward to but still clinged on to the little hope he had and religiously did his academics, studied till late at night and woke up at 6:30 in the morning to catch an hour and a half long metro to college and gave a dreadful exam where he was asked to implement a clock on Verilog he had no idea of and then went on to implement fancy muxes on a breadboard and made it through his final lab exam. I have no idea how I did it, may be the fact that I was done with one of my eight semesters made me happy. But I know it’ll continue to empower me. And I always pray to God to give me enough strength to fight all such wars in the future and never stop learning. Because learning is the only way we’re going to get better.

So while I had paid for a single seater this semester, I have been provided one with a little mouse running around eating my almonds. I used to try real hard getting him out of my room. Onions, deodorants (I don’t know why I used that), and every possible home remedy you name and I have tried. But that is one hell of a resilient (or stubborn?) mouse that simply wouldn’t go. And now I’ve just gotten so accustomed to him being around that I just cannot get a mice poison from the market to kill him. He’s sorta cute. Anyway I haven’t been able to make illustrations for almost a month now owing to my busy schedule due to my multiple projects, final assignments, photoshoots (I’ll let you know why I have been working on them)  and exams. But I will be back to business. So let the December begin.

Sneak peek into the pictures I did with Savi for her college magazine.

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Love and Light,

The Effeminare ❤

 

 

 

It’s a Yes!

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Recap: The Effeminare man was at his boyfriend’s sister’s wending last week and was about to meet his to-be in-laws for the first time. How did it go?

And it’s a yes! They were so happy to meet him and they couldn’t be happier that they’ve found each other. It’s all clicking so well. Seems like a dream already. So what’s next on the cards? Marriage? Not so soon! Stay Tuned.

CognoOfTheWeek:

Sometimes I feel like homosexuals or perhaps the queer community in general could be the most homophobic group of people and that’s exactly why we so need to teach our kids about alternate sexuality, other than the fact that currently we’re not exactly doing a very good job providing them with proper sex education. If you might have watched Caitlyn Jenner’s interview on Ellen, you can clearly tell that a part of her is still a Republican, and she’s not exactly okay with the concept of same-sex marriage. I will be posting something on the same lines in my future posts. Oh also, I have my exams from the coming week, so wish me luck! And I might not be able to post something new in the coming week, but you know I am gonna make up for it. 😉

Peace in. ❤