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

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.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset 

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 Silent Mourner? No More.

IMG_20141228_234224

Way back in December 2014. Location: Ramachandi Beach. Picture by my sis.

Every morning as I wake up, the first thing I do is thank God for what I have today. I am extremely grateful to him for every little thing I have in my life, because not all of us have been lucky enough to have had a happy childhood. As I went through Kevin Kantor’s powerful poem named “People you may know”, there was this one line that hit me the most. “No one comes running for young boys who cry rape.”

It is no doubt one of the most influential poems I’ve come across in a long-long time. He talks about how he found his abuser on Facebook in the ‘People you may know’ section and when he checked his profile, he had three mutual friends with the same man. Such men are no different and do not live in some parallel universe. They very much live with us. Lately I’ve been coming across a lot of stories, more importantly in India than abroad that talk about the horrific crime of child abuse and how no one really looks at it as something that needs to be talked about. Men get raped too. And we all need to be aware enough to stop this from ever happening to an individual again. A YouTube video shared by ScoopWhoop showed a guy narrating his experience as a little kid when one of his teachers took him to the staff-room, asked him to take his pants off and forced himself on him. Another guy told how he was held up at gun point and asked to give blow jobs  to a group of men along with his partner. I was deeply shocked when I heard of all these stories that I had never heard of.  We hardly got to know about it when Shia LaBeouf came out and told us about the time he was raped during his performance art project. Why had I not heard of them before?Because men can’t be raped? Or men raping men isn’t a story spicy enough to be written down a newspaper? Or is it because they never came out and spoke about it? There could be several reasons why I might not have heard about it. But currently what matters is that we speak about such issues like the way people like Kevin Kantor and Harrish Iyer have. Because it exists and it is high time that we fix this. When your child comes to you crying for help, listen to him. Children hardly lie about issues like these. Help them because you care about their well-being.

I’m pretty sure you must have heard about the doctor from AIIMS whose wife killed herself after she got to know that he was cheating on her with another man and was constantly torturing her for perhaps dowry. I have been very vocal about how important it is to come out and not be weighed down by how the society perceives you even in my previous posts. (A Seven on pH-> https://theeffeminare.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/a-seven-on-ph/)

For god’s sake, talk to people. You have an Internet connection. Google stuff. You can never fake things till the end. There’s a threshold level. Once it breaks off, you’ll never be able to keep it all in. I very well understand how difficult it might be for you to come out. Many parents tend to live in denial for years. But they will finally understand. I personally don’t give a shit about what my peers think about myself. I’ve made some very close friends after I came out and have as well lost many. But the friends I have now mean so much to me than the ones who left. People will judge you. I have met men who on getting to know about my sexuality sort of back off. I have as well met men who on knowing that I have come out, have stood beside me and have fought for me. Stand by your true self proudly and the rest will be taken care of. If you still think you need time to come out, for heaven’s sake don’t let another individual’s life be adversely affected  by it.

Last year I was seeing a guy who when we first started talking seemed like the perfect guy. He had told me about a guy at his workplace who was never able to rise above being a judgmental chauvinistic pig. He was picked on every day he went to work. He was also being forced to marry off a girl chosen by his family. And here he was talking to me and living the life of a virtual player on the social network. I advised him to take a stand and at least try talking to his parents before making things worse for him. We can all give it a try. We’re stronger than we think we are. Such dating apps in fact have become a refuge for a lot of guys and have cemented their view that they could perhaps lead a dual life where they can happily date men online, have a perfectly healthy sex life and can as well maintain the image of a perfect husband and more importantly the quintessential man offline. An illusion is an illusion. It’ll wear off one day and will hit you harder than you think it will. Don’t get off guard with such delusional apps. They’ll perhaps do more bad than good to you.

Peace in.

IMG_20140712_151014

Picture from last year. Thought it was my last day at Umeed (near Qutub Minar). I got back this year with AAW’s Impart and it was still the same. Always happy to get back to Umeed. Location: Qutub Minar

|When my World was Candy|

Durga Puja Days

So the other day, I was a little low and I was thinking about the time last semester when I was genuinely very happy. A friend of mine was doing a project sort of thing for her Psychology paper and I was her subject. One of the questions in her questionnaire was how often do I get upset. I ticked “I am always happy”. A while after I went, “You know what, even this won’t last forever. I am gonna get back into that vicious cycle of human emotions. But yeah, as if I care!” And almost 7 months after, I just wish I could get back to being that way again. So I switched on to this amazing song from Monsoon Wedding, “Rabba Rabba Mee Barsa“. This song always gets me going. I absolutely love the movie. It is undoubtedly one of the finest movies by Mira Nair and I was incredibly happy when I’d watched this movie for the first time last year. It has the most awfully lovable songs from the late nineties (Remember ‘Chunari chunari’?). There is a certain sense of nostalgia associated with this movie. Every little thing in it reminds me of the way things used to be. From the tap (the T-shaped ones) and the white tiled sink, to the clothes, the picture of Delhi that I had in my mind back in 2000 to the songs again. It was all so beautiful. My world comprised of the little Kaniha, and that long coniferous tree at the end of my block. When I didn’t bother about how I looked, or what I ate. When competition and heart breaks hadn’t taken over me. When liars and fake promises didn’t exist in my life. When I did not have to be the quintessential man. When the real world hadn’t taken over me.

Where did it all go wrong? Duh! I grew up. 2014 has been a roller coaster ride. I used to be a lot different than I am today. I became more real and practical than the dreamy me. I do like the way things are today. I like being secure but there’s always a little emptiness that we all have to deal with everyday. A lot of my illusions have been all shattered. And I am glad. It is very important to face the reality and work over it than just wish for it. God is incredible. Everything that we come across in life is wrapped around with a lesson inside. Difficult to learn but acceptance makes it easier to deal with.

I know I can’t go back in time. But I can’t help thinking about how it used to be. May be tomorrow I’ll think about today and be like, “How amazing were those college days?”. So moral of the story? Let’s not be a tape that keeps getting stuck all the time and keep rolling no matter what. It’s good to be nostalgic, it’s good to go back in time. But sometimes, you need to stop bothering yourself with the past and just suck it up. Your present is what you have with you. Celebrate it. And the rest will be taken care of.

Peace in.