Lil QC: “ 2 plus 2 equals 4, right ?”
The World: “2 plus 2 equals 5, silly!”
Lil QC: “err…no. 2 plus 2 equals 4! Can’t you count?”
The World: “Don’t be stupid. Everyone knows 2 plus 2 equals 5 – Look around you!”
Lil QC: “ [looking around]… Oh. Ok. I guess you must be right, world. I’ll do my math homework in the closet then. So long!”
A exaggerated conversation in my head at a young age. The equation metaphor for queerness draws from the simple fact that most good little Indian kids spend their entire childhoods doing math. Some days it feels like I’ve spent my entire life doing Queer Math i.e. Problem solutions, Theorems and Cost-Benefit Analysis that Lil Queer Kids develop and apply in their day to day lives.These days I find myself often using the phrase “I grew up Queer…” almost as if its supposed to explain something about me. In a spur of reflexivity, I decided to meditate on what that means and why I keep saying that.
Growing up queer means knowing as a wee young one that I was different. Its not so much about knowing what “gay” or “lesbian” etc. means. Its just an inkling that something is not right with your part in the world. At that time, I recall not being able to understand why or how I was different because it was all still ambiguous. I recall being very very angry most of the time and not knowing why I was so frustrated or ill tempered. And for all that, I was an easy going and sociable child but one who frequently needed my space. Still do.
Growing up queer means I hated myself. And then I had to stop hating myself. While my growth hormones were all over the place and my body was sprouting parts and hair and elongating itself, While I looked at a bra and wondered by wearing it was I becoming someone I am not, While deliberately shutting out thoughts of my ‘queerness’ so for just a little while every day I could love myself.
Growing up queer means I have issues with trust. I say have because they apparently haven’t gone away and maybe never will. But my memories of agonizing deliberation about what to say, what not to say, how to present myself, what is acceptable, who to say what to and an omnipresent fear of being ‘discovered’ because things like my education and my family were at stake – made most days excruciating. Till I reached the point where I knew I was dependent on no one for my basic needs – I feared being Queer.
Growing up Queer means I felt all alone. I scrounged around for information, I sought out anything that indicated that there were more people out there like me, I read and read and read extensively. The internet arrived just in time for me to surf the big gay world wide web. I still went about my everyday life with no queer friends and wondering if that was how it was going to be for the rest of my life.
Growing up Queer means I pretended to be braver than I felt. All the time. I thought no one had my corner and ever would. My path in this world towards being myself and happy had to be forged alone. I had a constant sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I would have to give up everything dear to me – Family, Friends and other essentials – at the drop of a hat. When my queerness was revealed. And I would have to spend the rest of my life being ok with it. So why not start now ? as a young one? Feelings became irrelevant. Fun was. And Fun was something I could get anywhere with anyone at anytime. It all made sense in my silly adolescent head.
Growing up Queer means the Grown-up-Queer-Me sometimes wishes she could go back in time and give lil me a great big hug. Tell lil me it was going to be Ok all those nights I cried privately. Take away some of that pain and anguish. Grown-up-Queer- Me is so much more equipped with dealing with myself and any rogue volatile emotions, not to mention others. I think lil me would have appreciated the odd reassurance now and then from someone who understood.
Growing up Queer means I liked women. Sexual intercourse of the male-female form was plentiful and it didn’t take a genius to figure out that what went were. But what about women? I wanted them with all my vigorous youthful teenage passion but was sex even possible, I wondered ? Luckily, something told me it would be intuitive. And heck yeah ! It was. It is. And Its amazing.
Growing up Queer means I was like millions of other kids out there now. Searching, Wondering, Fearing, Questioning kids. But while this may have read like a “list of excuses for turning out to be a terrible deviant adult” – I turned out fabulous. Just like every other Queer kid out there is and will. I still have my good days and bad days but I know where I come from, I know who I am, I know fighting for myself is worth it and most importantly, I know I can love. And be loved in return. And Yes, that is the greatest thing I’ll ever learn.
So Here’s looking at you, Queer Kid(s). Tell us your stories.