Singing In A Choir Helped Me Find My Queer Community

Over the past 2 years, I have learned more about the community’s needs. My space has been acknowledged and my voice encouraged.

You see I have always known I liked both girls and boys. I just assumed that I could grow up and settle for whoever treats me well irrespective of their sex. I was never really in the closet, given the fact that I wasn’t even aware of its sad existence. It was only when I was 19 that I realized there weren’t any same-sex married couples around in India- and that was the first awakening about my “weird” sexuality. Something beyond straight and lesbian women existed- a middle ground where I could run as I please. It was a hilarious secret I had with myself- the revelation of which terrified me since I had just learned how to punch back a life full of sexual abuse, and a family crisis. I was stronger but something about the foundations now seemed dishonest. I needed to know what I was and fall in love with it.

Bisexual/Demisexual. I had a tag to carry now. One that I did not, and do not intend to shed till everyone strives to make a space where I don’t need to use it anymore. I attended my very first Pride Parade alone in Mumbai in 2014. It was while walking on the streets, waving a rainbow flag that a person asked me about my orientation for the first time. It was also the first time someone told me I was confused and that no such orientation exists. I was supposed to be either straight or a lesbian. Needless to say, I cried myself to sleep for days after that and skipped the parade for the next year.

In 2016, an online friend finally convinced me to join him for an LGBT event. When he said he wanted me to audition for his choir- Rainbow Voices Mumbai, I jumped the gun. I have always loved the stage for being the only place that both terrifies and liberates me, and the idea of joining an all-male choir at that point somehow didn’t even strike as unusual. Initially, I didn’t want everyone focusing on the fact that I was the only woman; I wanted this to be a genderless place for me. It was only within a month that

I realized how wrong I was. I needed to accept my gender/sexuality/preference with pride if I had to embrace others for who they were. Here, patriarchy was the common enemy. It was not as much about trying to fit as much as it was about focusing on what bound us together.

Over the past 2 years, I have learned more about the community’s needs. My space has been acknowledged and my voice encouraged. Even during our London trip to sing with the Pink Singers, they made sure I spoke out and stood my ground as we talked about our collective rights and LBT+ women’s rights in particular. From singing together to sharing our personal struggles and helping each other grow- we do it all in this family. Our recent performance at the Serendipity Art Festival in Goa is a perfect example of that. We explored a whole new plethora of art forms, met passionate artists and rejoiced to have shared our personal stories with the audience. While in the past, all we did was sing and give a voice to those who needed it, now we have learned to build a stage and pass on the mic to everyone. And it is interesting how my write up as well as my heart has eventually gone from ‘I’ to ‘we’, just the way gay-days have multiplied!

Please help raise funds for Aazaadiyan- RVM Pride Concert 2019.

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Manasie

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