In highschool, you meet friends that teach you how to do body shots and others who tell you how to survive three-ways. But those friends rarely have the depth to truly rock your world.
However, sometime between 2008 and 2009, an odd mover and shaker popped up in class and that mover and shaker happened to be lesbian and proud. This is an ode to that person who taught me how to dance like no one is watching.
March or dance to the beat of your own drum.
When Vanhi strutted into the room, her pleather jeans, coloured hair and low-cut tank top gave away the clear indication that no you-know-what was given. For a liberal school, she was still very much pushing the boundaries with her attire. And that push didn’t just stop at her fabulous clothes.
When she squatted next to me, we exchanged uncomfortable glances before I commented on how pretty the Economics teacher was. To this, unlike the other haters, she responded with “yes, I’d love to date her”. Since then, our bond forever cemented over my awkward remark, her honesty about being gay, Macroeconomics and micro tits. This was the best first conversation I ever had and it taught me to own my sexuality and maybe invest in some pleather pants to strut in.
Persist to be who you are even when the struggle is real.
For me, the struggle in 7th grade was not understanding Algebra and for Vanhi it was about not being understood by her parents. She didn’t get to cut her hair the way she liked or wear the gender neutral clothes she preferred because her ma and pa didn’t get why she didn’t want to prance around in a dress like an oestrogen filled bunny.
It got to a point where they thought their daughter was “troubled” and needed a psychiatrist to tell her who she needed to be. You know how she responded? Like a boss, of course. She ran away momentarily, she threw her life-changing pills in the sink and she rebelled with persistence over long periods of time. Now, the same ma and pa are ready to sign over their inheritance to this trooper and their soon to be bahu. Achievement of being yourself, (even when the struggle is real) — unlocked.
You can’t make everyone love you.
Before the previously mentioned bahu came to being, my lovely lesbian friend did what we all do when we want love — we try to make someone love us even when it’s not the right fit. Case in point: the experimental closet bisexual named R. Banerjee.
Her and Vahni often exchanged smiles in class. This turned to kisses in the car and then sex on a balcony at a high school after party. Soon the flame was strong and I was the cover feeling the heat of the questions coming from the inquisitive eyes around us.
Vahni wanted the Carrie Bradshaw “real, ridiculous and inconvenient kinda love” and R. Banerjee didn’t want to be inconvenienced with the word “lesbian”. The balcony that heard their muffled orgasms once, also heard the loud cry when Vahni was denied the right to openly be someone’s girlfriend. I’ll never forget that cry, the one that screamed that you can’t change someone and you can’t make everyone love you.
Make your own perfect world with rainbow flags.
India is not ideal, my high school wasn’t ideal and at many times, Vahni’s own home wasn’t ideal to be a lesbian in. But that’s not what my lesbian friend taught me about life. She didn’t bow down to scenarios.
Yes, prejudice did exist externally but the bravery, self-pride, and self-identity that existed inside her outweighed it all. She created her own life, with her own career in design, with a fanny loving wife who’s proud of the former fact and with parents who now accept her and her disdain for dresses. If she can raise a rainbow flag of progress, (against the odds and Banerjee breakups), then why can’t we raise the life we want?