Its burning and bleeding dry
So near, yet so farfetched the cry.
Bantering, whom to blame
Helplessly watching the flame
In the name of Saffron and Green
Hues of Rainbow in between
How easy it is to belittle the feminine, to blame her. Perhaps women are easy targets for nothing happens without them. The feminine energy is both the lowest and highest rungs of the ladder, of the darkest valley and the tallest peak. The world does not start with Adam, it starts with Eve.
Based on that sole piece of advice, I asked around, read more to find the truth of the matter and just like that, an article published on the Forbes website last year caught my attention which reported that fewer gay men choose to opt a STEM degree than heterosexual men. My focus quickly turned towards my own experiences and I started pondering deeply over situations that I faced as a homosexual individual in the STEM community and here’s my story.
You, a stranger miles away.
I won't romanticize this feeling that I felt,
I just like being liked.
I remember that I waited for you for two hours. I was shuffling between the pages of my diary, trying to write many things about you, so at least one thing will eventually make sense. But it was as challenging as looking for a needle in a haystack to express what I feel for you.
I am a proud person. I have attended a couple of Prides. I too had put a sticker on my face and felt happy. But when I am alone, disgust creeps on me like little ants. The air feels stagnant and I am scared again.
It feels like I’m reading a sign at the train station, This can’t be me, can it?
Buried under those fluorescent-dyed teddy bears, I’m the shiny little one in the corner,
Maybe this time it’ll be my turn.
I remember looking at those colorful pictures of Pride Marches in the papers. The bright but defiant faces, people protesting the law and celebrating themselves, I was more in awe than anything else. It just never occurred to me that people in small towns also do love or queerness or revolutions. It was one of those things, something amazing and rare but one that only happens in movies, books and big cities.
With the exception of the phrase ‘Yes ma’am’, ‘lesbian’ was probably the most-spoken word in school. It was the first word from the LGBTQ+ acronym that I encountered while growing up. It was used as a slur to end petty arguments on the playground. It was magnified as an insult to make fun of someone displaying affection or care towards a friend.
So, I turned to an artform, a science, a philosophy to help me understand the language of people who won’t explain themselves to me. Obviously, I turned to astrology. Jokes apart, alongside my aro-ace peers, astrology introduced me to a new language to name different parts of the self.
Sex became the forbidden fruit I couldn’t have - not until I was far away from my parents’ watchful eyes at least - but could only seek pleasure in thinking of. In my head, I imagined a hypersexual alter ego of myself, who would appear the day I moved out and could finally live as their true self. I did move out, I did begin to live the way I wanted to, except that this imaginary persona never revealed herself. She didn’t really exist.
Char of my burnt heart—
Makes watery her eyes
Tears skittering down on her hot cheeks
I long to but cannot wipe
Despite my inner turmoil and dwindling self-confidence however, for the first time in my life, I fostered valuable female friendships. I learnt that they were struggling with the same difficulties I was dealing with and yet, I couldn't understand why they would consider themselves unattractive.
I will not bat an eye if you walk out wearing makeup one day, or a skirt for that matter. If you would rather wear polo shirts and khaki pants, I still wouldn't flinch. I'll love you no matter what, unconditionally, without an asterisk or expectations.
The popular notion that lesbians desire like men is infuriating: our affections may be directed towards the same subset of the population but we neither experience nor express them in a similar fashion. However, as evident by the movies that I would gravitate towards, my perception of women was unwittingly steeped in the ‘male gaze’.
Back then, I hadn't known who I was, or who I liked. I felt raw and fluid. I was naive but wild; I had the edges of my head shaved, only to have a long ponytail at the back. I had tubs of bleach and would colour it every week.
The confidence of having strong friendships was felt elsewhere too, as I started putting myself out there in terms of romance. I’d been using dating apps for a while but …
It was in Class 10 that I thought I found true love. Spoiler alert: It was just another episode of infatuation. I was alone with no one to truly call a friend, feeling out of place in the world, depressed and dysphoric.
For me, I am unbothered. I have always been single on Valentine’s Day. The last Valentine I had was my best friend in high school, and we went to the local diner where I gifted her a box of candy and a balloon. This was back when I had yet to come out and still felt the need to conform to the heterosexual norms that society has so tastelessly imposed in the form of heart-shaped chocolates and kitschy Hallmark cards.
The skin experts say to leave the pimple alone
But I was sure she knew better
The third time she said
I walked around like a leprosy patient
‘With all that on your face’