It’s been a year since I came out to myself and my friends.
And largely, through the support of my super supportive straight friends, put up a Facebook profile and found like-minded queer people on the Internet.
In a few weeks of having met and chatted with some, I met the ‘gang’ and this bunch of six-seven women became my pathway to meeting new people. Hanging out with them felt awesome. Like I belonged… We dressed alike – skinnys and converse, had diverse coming out stories and yes, we loved women! Midnight drives, impromptu dinners, long telephone conversations, shopping sprees, and coffee sessions – all became de rigueur and suddenly, I was hanging with them every night!
It was almost all perfect… till one day, I figured that I was shifting my focus at work, delaying work submissions and my even neglecting my friendships of many years for my ‘lesbian friends’ of a few weeks. I sent out a text asking everyone for time out explaining my need to sort my imbalanced equations. And discovered that I seemed to have antagonized the entire group in my ability to stand up and say enough. The antagonism spilled over… as suddenly, I was treated like persona non grata at many a lesbian event.
In the meanwhile, I discovered new friends largely through Facebook, L Lounge parties and Azaad Bazaar in Mumbai at my own pace. And whilst the new friends existed… meeting these old friends at common events was a given. A few weeks ago, an emotional meltdown at trying to understand this complicated tangle, provoked a pertinent query raised to me, “Are you friends with me because I am gay or because you like who I am?”
The question made me see: the visibility of a cult, of group dynamics at work. It underlined how if you had a crush on someone, it became the whole group’s business. Yes, a random infatuation shared with two or three friends seemed to have taken epic proportions. So much so that months after the crush had passed, some ‘well-meaning friend’ brought her up in a conversation and told me how hapy she is!
It also made me realize every move was dissected and bisected. You couldn’t be friends in public/digital or online spaces without someone raising an eye brow or questioning banter on your status! No exploration was private and everyone in the community had a judgment and an opinion about it… A supposed orgy after a party got discussed for months. A friend’s sexual threesome escapade became much fodder for gossip despite it being very much in her past. Or even the fact, that it took one ‘click on the delete’ button on Facebook, for an acquaintance to instantly text regretting their cold behavior.
It made me realise in the last few months why managing perceptions and people in the L-World was even more important than managing a brand! For people seemed to have an opinion without even having met you online or in real? It made me realise how fellow lesbians would nip a ‘could have been a potential relationship’ by telling another she’s not your type? Why recommendation of you being a cool person through somebody’s lens became so vital and important? Or why an off-the-cuff remark could cause a hulabaloo?
This herd mentality worries me. It makes me think – if there is scope for individuality and perhaps a ‘think’ different from the group? Can you really loose one friend and still have others from the same group as your unbiased friends? Can you handle the sudden bitchiness and the cold vibes from a group for an equation in transition and supposedly private? Does being a lesbian automatically qualify for your life becoming visible to every other: Who you are vibing, who you fought with, whose girlfriend you had a little extra conversation with, or who you didn’t hug become chatter for weeks… All because you want to be a part of the community?
As someone still trying to find my own space and niche in the community – because being gay does make us flock together –I want to be in a group and yet not lose my individual voice? Is it possible to do so without making more enemies than friends? How do you suss the undercurrents? How do you deal with the constant-being watched?
The only way, I realize for now, is making and maintaining your own equations, being friends with everyone and spending one-on-one time getting to know people. And finding your own true flock of common-minded people… It also makes me see that wisdom lies in keeping quiet and sharing your opinion with no-one else but your diary!
Will I succeed? Will I be ‘in’ and yet be ‘out’? The next few months will reveal all…