I regretted coming to the Gaysi Family’s Read Out Loud (ROL) event almost instantly. Small spaces, too many strangers, bright lights= red flag, red flag, discomfort. Prior to this, I had never seen so many queer people in one place. Looked around; hot, hot, hot women. I etched their faces in my mind, promised myself to paint ‘em on canvas later.
Let me tell you flat out – every myth I had regarding what this event would be like was busted. I walked in expecting people to be reading out lines from some queer version of Madame Bovary; sex and hopefully lots of it. But here were gay boys and lesbians talking about what their life experiences are like; coming out to family, life as a queer in India, movies and shows about lesbians, pride parades. As the event proceeds, my ego takes a beating. I feel like I crawled out from under a rock; I don’t know the pop culture. I don’t know how to emote as these men and women do. So much for erotica! I admonish myself – Burn bitch burn.
So, I scoot as fast as I can from the event. I acknowledge that I am into women, but I didn’t realize I needed to know shit. The ladies had been right in the podcast. Queers should have their own manual; Queer 101. I feel out of my depth; it’s enough to inspire me to do the fox trot back into the closet and this time stay there permanently. I am starting to resent Gaysi Family for this feeling. I expected fantasy and got reality. What the hell, women!
I go home, straight to my room and sketch out on my book with charcoal, all the beautiful women I saw today. I skateboard on the street outside my home; blasting my ear drums with more punk music going back and forth, back and forth. I go inside only when I am drenched in the rains. Why am I so uneasy?
This is something I feel again on Queer Trivia night (Can You Repeat The Question Please?). When I look around, it feels like I am looking through blurry vision at a hive with alluring bees who know their roles, their place and rest easy. I realized I don’t fit in, and that’s how I have always liked it in the past. So that’s okay. I am also okay with being a low brow queer woman. I don’t know terminology, the relevant books, not seen the shows. After the ROL event, I tried watching “The L Word” and did not like it much and gave up after the second episode. There was once a discussion amongst the editors at Gaysi about men who identify as lesbians and I didn’t get it; it still confuses me. I don’t even know how to begin to be politically correct; I dislike people who are. But still as I head home I feel unsettled.
The skateboard is lying near the gate. I had been excited about buying it. I thought it would be really funny to text my friends saying that I saved up enough to buy a four- wheeler and then when they express disbelief, send the image of my sweet ride. Not a car yo!, just a skateboard. Ha ha. Ha fucking ha. Now it’s just lying there looking like a little, scared, out of order wooden board.
Arrrrgh. I am pretty convinced that I am going to double in height, turn green and bulldoze this city. I suddenly fucking hate you Gaysi Family. I am mentally writing a mail to MJ, Chicklet, Queer Coolie and Sherlock Homo, with The Cathartist in cc, telling them I quit! No fucking way am I editing essay pieces any more. I am not going to attend any more events. It’s churning my insides and making me feel like I am back in limbo.
As I enter home, my tiny siblings come running towards me. The 5 year old boy chirps, “Advait came to play here you know? He has SEVEN pencils and colour colour rubbers; purple, green, red, purple, green, red. Could you buy for me also Chechi*?”
“May be. Let’s see,” I reply curtly. I go upstairs to my room and crash on the bed. They follow me and jump in and sneak close for a cuddle.
“Goooooo away”, I yell. “Can you tell us a story?”, they yell back gleefully. That’s our ritual. “Nooooo! Chechi needs sleep tonight.”, I think I am turning a shade closer to parrot green, the rage is building up. “One smaaaaall story?”, they say in chorus.
I am about to reinforce my point angrily but I see their peaced out faces and stop.
“How about you two tell me a story?”, I say, exhausted by it all.
(The next part is verbatim what issued from the little girl’s mouth. Haven’t even edited the grammar.)
Excited about getting a chance to show her skills, she started, “Okay! Once upon a time, there was a lion and a tiger. They lived in a yucky jungle where all animals did potty (it’s the ultimate provocative thing to say at 5), and it was too stinky. So, they went to one new, sweet smelling forest. They had smaaaall babies.”
“Chotu, how can two boys have babies?” I say automatically.
“They was married Chechi. And they were Papas. They lived with their babies happily and had so much fun. There was also two girl cheetahs. They was also married and had smaaaall cheetah babies. Aaaaah….”
My bear hug catches both of them by surprise and I rock back and forth, back and forth, not wanting to let go.
We are going to be okay. We are going to be okay. We are going to be okay.
Never in my wildest dreams, did I wake up today expecting to be so casually schooled. We have stories to make the blues and green monsters go away. The rest is not a big deal.
I remember getting thrown into the deep end of the pool when I didn’t even know how to float. Bar the initial terror, you eventually resurface. It’s good to be overwhelmed. You learn something new every day.
Only the story matters; sometimes lions love tigers and girl cheetahs hook up.
Maybe we will all be okay.
*meaning Big sister in Malayalam