Two years ago this month "Dostana" was released and made big news. The community was clearly divided in its reaction; some loved it and some absolutely hated it. Some said it caricatured being gay, and used all the stereotypes. I loved the movie. I thought it was ground breaking in many ways.
There are times when I wish I could just cut off ties and be 'free'. I know that this is impossible because I love them too much. Then I have conversations in my head where I confront them and tell them how mean and hurtful they're being. 'Am I a drug dealer? Am I a prostitute? Am I a bum without a job or a future?', I demand, in these imaginary confrontations. 'Where is the unconditional love that a parent is meant to give their child?', I follow up. All in my head.
While people were always telling me that I should come out only when I am comfortable doing so and which is true of course, I still found myself procrastinating. There were stages in my life when I was ashamed of myself, to the point that I was unable to open up even in a support group. I was just so embarrassed, that I would confine myself to the privacy of my home and sit through evenings and weekends together. Even after I accepted myself , I was still afraid to come out to my family because I feared I would hurt them or just purely that I would rather take the pain on myself than sharing it with anyone else. While it might sound selfless, it was just plain stupid.
I saw him the first time in a train. He was tiny and timid, very unlike his naughty and loud brothers and sisters. Dressed shabby with a torn t-shirt and torn slacks, a pair of mismatched shoes, all he wanted to do was just get enough place to sit but his siblings would not let him.
They were from the slum, it was fairly obvious with the way they were behaving. These kids seemed unperturbed when the aunties mocked them and asked them to move out of their seats. They had tickets these kids didn’t. The kids pretended to be deaf and continued being seated where they were, a noisy naughty lot of five.
As much as being queer and Indian can be a pain, being queer and at a large university can be pretty sweet sometimes. Even though my college town isn’t the most liberal place in the world, there’s still an active Pride Center and a pretty strong queer advocacy community. One of the events that the Pride Center puts on biannually is a drag show
I have had some friends tell me that this queer stuff isn’t so important to them, and with some friends it’s when they don’t tell me anything about queer issues and that’s how I know it isn’t important to them.
Well, in general, some say that one should focus on their own thing because no one will do anyone else’s dirty work for them. I guess that’s a big gulp to gulp for me because I’m a social work student and I take great pride and joy in wanting to help people and help myself.
It’s the holiday season and that can bring up all kinds of depressing, I mean cheerful feelings, right? Exactly. Holiday season can be complicated for us.
During Halloween weekend, at a gay bar I let out a loud “noooooo!” when I saw three white men, all at the same time, in the following costumes: a Native American man with a headdress, a blue avatar, and Antoine Dodson the Bed Intruder Hero. Thank goodness I didn’t see any blackface!
Indian society has long stifled the Queer expression and our way of communicating with the world. Therefore, the idea of stand up performances as a medium of expression…the Queer expression… is something I can never give a miss. So, this very inclination led me to Mumbai last weekend where the gorgeous and famed founder of Queer Ink, Ms Shobhna was holding a book fair and a Queer Open Mic event as part of the fair festivities.
In many many cases, because of the social and cultural environments around us, or because of lack of awareness, we never realise or develop our true sexual preference and instincts and end up feeling incomplete, unhappy or unsatisfied without knowing reasons. To me, a person is gay/lesbian if and only if he/she bonds both sexually AND emotionally with people of same gender.
Sometimes there’s nothing as relaxing as a good old piece of trashy straight romping in the hay. Literarily speaking, of course, the lack of straightness and above all the lack of hay making it rather difficult an art to practise. But it does happen sometimes, when you’ve reached the limits of work that well-meaning friends realize you’re about to explode and they provide the best cure there is—books. And so it came that I was handed over, as partial cure to job woes, Soulless.
My parents have had to pay to put three children through University (in different countries) as well as pay for the expenses that go with me having an increasingly severe disability. And obviously we sometimes like to celebrate our new, more comfortable lifestyle by going on vacations, but it is not always as indulgent since we are not accustomed to doing vacations. We have to be so much more careful, and this always reminds me of how I need to prepare myself for my inevitably poor future.
As a child post queer awakening, I vividly recall sitting in front of black and white keys and eyeing them with much hostility because above them on a ledge were pages and pages with notes to the Moonlight Sonata. And I did not want to play them. I just did not want to. For they made me cry. Even at that age, I recall thinking I was quickly going to run out of tears if I kept at it. Yet, my first thought upon seeing this specific scene in the movie was – “Oh my god…Mom would have done the same thing” …if she knew how to play the piano.
Reality shows and their viability, we shall leave for another time. But for now, let’s talk about Bigg Boss Season 4 and the eviction of Ali Saleem, better known as Begum Nawazish Ali. Now I understand I may have lost a few readers at the mention of Bigg Boss.
While I acknowledge we have ‘bigger issues’ to deal with, it’s worth taking a pause and flirting with the more flippant subject.
I’m a gaysi, through and through. I love my girlfriend as much as I love tandoori chicken. And I love that I no longer need to try and justify both of those aspects to myself – I fully accept and love myself. It’s just that sometimes I wish there were an instruction manual on how to do this. In a culture that (still!) can’t even talk with their daughters about heterosexual relationships, how do you bring up being queer? When everyone you know is a “didi”, a “bhaiyya”, an “aunty”, or an “uncle”, regardless of blood-ties, how on earth do you even begin to tell your giant Indian family?
Well in the good sense so fret not Gaysi supporters. And let’s rejoice with open mouths *…pants..err…let us not get carried away just yet* our very first main stream media outing. A big shout out to Time Out (New Delhi) for their forever Queer-friendly attitude.
I love glee. I think it’s just the right amount cheesy, funny, and ironic. It laughs at itself, which is something most TV shows (and people) just cannot do. But I was in fact a bit disappointed (even if the show was being rather true to life in this scene) when I watched Episode 3 yesterday and watched Kurt (The Gay One) tell everyone that no one chose to be gay because no one would want to be mocked and made fun of all his or her life.
It was learning the language of freedom in multiple ways, a language she could play with and write in without words throwing their ghosts upon the page. Feminism, which marked the actual redoubling; a continuous questioning of everything started then, in those classes, and as she made her way through everything she could get her hands on, from Kate Millett to Helene Cixous, from bell hooks to Mary Daly, falling in love with every single one of them, she developed the courage to take thoughts to their logical conclusions, though sometimes those conclusions were not easy to live with and sometimes voicing those thoughts in other classes was tricky, to say the least.
Being our radical queer desi selves can be exhausting, and it’s always a positive thing to be intentionally taking care of our selves and our minds. When I first came out, roughly four years ago, I was aching so much to become an activist that I really wore myself out, as well as everyone around me! I now have a long list of conditions I have to give myself in order to be radical but still enjoy the world we are currently living in.
Very often, in our lives, we need to make decisions in a split second. We use stereotypes to help us get comfortable with unfamiliar situations - people, things, etc. Stereotype, however can also let us judge stuff without giving the other person a fair chance. When do we draw the line?
Through our years of friendship, I was always careful never to judge, and separated her actions from her personality to be able to love the person she was. And I don’t feel like I received the same consideration. It was like she was just relieved that by Indian standards, someone had finally done something “worse” than her.