Not Just A ‘Tomboy’

All my three years as an undergraduate in sound school, I was the only girl in an entire batch of around 70 students. I figured I’d have no problem blending in with other boys as I always thought we were very much alike. But apparently, they didn’t see it that way.

I’ve had a wild childhood that included short haircuts, bossing other kids around, hitting boys of the same age, roaming around in stereotypically masculine clothes. That’s how my parents, relatives and other elders labelled me as a ‘tomboy’. And the term stuck with me throughout primary school. In high school, when my fellow female batch mates started to discuss boys and vice versa, I found all of it nonsensical and naively thought that I was more mature than them and focused on studies. When I was 13, I fell for a girl in my class. Turns out, I hit puberty late; and when I did, boy did I immediately realize that I was different. I realized that I was romantically and sexually attracted to people of the same sex. I started worrying about the future and dreading as to how I would ever be able to share this secret with my parents, losing many friends in the process. My academic progress began to deteriorate. The rowdy kid that I once was, now I slowly began to withdraw, and I kept to myself, becoming reserved and unsociable. My music was my only happy place and comfort zone. I practiced on my piano day and night to escape from the constant melancholy.

All my three years as an undergraduate in sound school, I was the only girl in an entire batch of around 70 students. I figured I’d have no problem blending in with other boys as I always thought we were very much alike. But apparently, they didn’t see it that way. Furthermore, I forgot how to behave with and felt awkward around women. After completing my bachelors in mass media from Pune, the 21-year-old me returned to Mumbai and started internships and working freelance on commercial projects in the field of audio, film sound and music- a field that is highly male-dominated. I felt lost and found it difficult to maintain a balance between my professional and personal life surrounded by the constant clichéd stereotypes and hackneyed ideas. And that’s when I decided to come out to my parents in June 2017. Guess there’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. I’d always figured that I would do it when I was independent and stable, financially and spiritually. But the emotional burden was too much to handle. Mama and papa, both, were initially shocked, and even today, are still apprehensive but supportive, nonetheless. And for that, I’m grateful. My relationship with my father, though, has been a bit strenuous since. But I’m patient because I know that as I took so long to accept myself and be courageous enough to tell them my truth, they too will need a while to get used to and accept this fact.

Coming out is a process and not just a one-time thing that happens overnight. A year after I came out to my parents, I understood that gender identity and sexual orientation are two separate entities. I realized that I wasn’t just attracted to women but identified myself (and felt more comfortable) as Transmasculine.

In Feb 2019, I attended my first PRIDE ever in Mumbai and was overwhelmed to see such a diverse and colourful crowd & it was even more amazing to mingle with so many unapologetic, flamboyantly-dressed strangers!

On 6th September 2018, we decriminalized consensual homosexual sex in India. A positive start for sure, but we still have a long way to go with working on issues such as equal marriage, adoption and inheritance, among others, because the society that we currently live in, is still strictly heteronormative.

I belong to a conservative family. My extended family and relatives are not even aware of the LGBT existence. And this is what has prompted me to speak up and share my experience, my story. Not to gain acceptance from people who don’t truly matter to me or to raise debates with people who would adamantly refuse to acknowledge this issue, but for some other closeted kid who’s going through the same dilemma that I was once in. To assure them that it’s okay. It’s not you but it’s the conservative society that we are currently living in & constantly making efforts to change it will make it better!

‘Love is Love.’
‘You don’t have to be gay to be a supporter; you just have to be HUMAN.’
Awareness, Diversity and Inclusion is what all of us need to collectively promote.
Encourage gender equality, keep defying stereotypes & change is inevitable
‘This is the funny thing about growing up.
For years and years, everybody’s desperately afraid. Afraid to be different, you know, in any way.
And then, suddenly, almost overnight, everybody wants to be different & to stand out from the crowd.
And that is where WE win.’

About the guest author

Priyanka SE

Ambivert. A healthy narcissist. Socially awkward. Reclusive. Trying to get out of my cocoon. For a pessimist, I'm pretty optimistic.
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