The great Marathi poet Suresh Bhat once said, “ भोगले जे दुःख त्याला सुख म्हणावे लागले एवढे मी भोगिले की मज हसावे लागले ” roughly translates as, “Whatever grief I have had so far, I had to think of it as happiness, I have suffered too much till now that I have had to laugh”. The poet is trying to say that he is so overwhelmed by all the grief he has had so far that he isn’t able to cry but is instead laughing while looking back at his tragic life. Isn’t this true about every queer’s life? We queers know what pain is like, the pain of being alive. We queers know what it’s like to have tea and biscuits with our families on an enchanted evening, deep down knowing that these close ones will become strangers the moment they learn about our queerness. I know a day will come when they will learn about my truth and I will be homeless and orphaned and nowhere to go. Nobody to seek help from. Where on one side my peers are imagining their beautiful life with their soulmates and families, and marriages; I fear that the day I will come out to my parents, my education will be terminated. Hence, I am concerned about my financial independence, the roof above my head, and my bread – butter. People like myself are not considered normal humans but rather faulty pieces who deserve to vanish in the air and are deprived of basic necessities such as food, a home and education. To me, my worst dream would be either having to beg on streets and signals or to sell my body for a measly 50-100 Rs. just to afford food and stay alive. Queer people like me are considered drenched with impurity from head to toe and are deprived of even basic labor. We are not considered worthy of dignity, respect, love and affection.
Everyone thinks about romance and intimacy and so do I but the major difference is that theirs is completely valid, natural and legitimate and mine is not. The feelings that I have are nothing but an absurd bunch of thoughts which have no connection with reality. They are more like fantasies which are illegitimate, and invalid (according to the world). What is life if you remove the romance out of it? By romance, I do not mean only infatuation but affection, love, emotions, and feelings for someone. If these things are removed, life would become a mechanical task and we humans would become emotionless robots who are determined to complete a task assigned to us. I cannot go emotionless, because in the end, I am a human too and I also have a beating heart.
Whenever I like a guy, I think I am interfering in straight people’s business. Whenever I like a guy, I feel I might deprive a girl of a nice male partner. Because a guy falls in love with a girl then they have a baby, and this is how it has always been. I feel that it is a straight people’s world, and I am living in their world. So where do I stand here? Where is my place? What is my role in society? Because I simply do not fit into the stereotypical boxes of a man and a woman. Where do I fit in? There is nobody to answer my questions and I feel guilty for merely existing. You cannot dream like others, you cannot expect a normal life like others and most importantly you cannot love anyone or have anyone loving you. I certainly cannot dream of a life partner and a normal life like my friends. I feel terrified and get goosebumps when I think about the loneliness that I have to confront in my future life. And this is why I get tears in my eyes. I have to pretend to be someone else and not my true self. I cannot express my feminine side and if I did I would be ridiculed for that. Falling in love with a boy as a boy is no less than a heresy.
Yes even after 6 years down the road, I still love my Junior college crush when we were both 16 and I cannot move on because I have nobody else to think of. He made me feel like nobody else ever did and I am sure nobody ever will, giving me tachycardia with every eye contact. Despite the amount of insult and humiliation he hurled over me (because he was straight), he was the only person; I felt intense love for. I certainly remember that there were moments when I was drenched in his love, I was almost mad for him; I still am. And now when I think of that unrequited love I just can’t let it go. And even if I let it go, my life will become so dry. My life is going to be full of humiliations, insults, traumas, tragedies, grief, miseries, despair, agony, pain, crusades, suffering, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness; the entire world will turn against me in future but, I will still have him with me in my imagination, in my mind when I simply close my eyes in the night while sleeping, to cry on his shoulder and to be cuddled and hugged by him so warmly and to be consoled by his vague and sweet voice that ‘ don’t worry I am with you, I love you’. But the truth is that he will never return my feelings because biologically I am a boy and not a girl.
I feel very frustrated when my parents talk about my marriage and give advice/suggestions on how my wife should be and that they are okay with any girl I would love regardless of caste or religion. They are dreaming of my marriage and my children, and I feel extremely sorry for them. I get very upset when I realize that I cannot think like the boys of my age or I cannot fall in love with girls like them, I feel very sad. I look at my mother and think how she will react when I come out to her…will she orphan me? Will my father kick me out of the house? Will I have no family and friends? Will I ever have a loving life partner?
I have this profound guilt that I cannot have a life like the boys of my age. I am too timid to commit suicide and die, but I often feel that should not have been born. I wish I had some solution to my problem. I have no tears left to cry. Earlier I could at least cry and could give an outlet to my pain. But now I am incapable of doing that, and because of this, it hurts so much. I wish I were a different person. Quite normal like others (straight). It is so excruciating to be a sexual minority in a country like India, but this isn’t the only minority I belong to….
I was privileged to not face blatant casteism in my face so far. My parents are the first generation who are educated and have a job. They were financially capable to put me in a decent school and buy a house in a good locality where people were not so casteist (at least openly). Growing up in an Ambedkarite household where caste atrocities are discussed around the dining table, I was conscious of casteism in society. One day, I realized that I am a minority within a minority. Being a Queer and a Dalit. Even though my parents are Ambedkarites, they are not necessarily liberal. My family and the Maharashtrian Buddhist community are extremely heteronormative. Growing up my parents never discussed queerness and homosexuality with me. They consciously chose silence on this topic. Being a Dalit Queer has two consequences, first that you are less likely to be accepted within your Maharashtrian Buddhist community. Second, you are extremely less likely to be accepted in society and the outside world because of your caste identity. I also realize the moment I come out as a Queer, my caste identity will be stigmatized and held accountable for being ‘ABNORMAL’. Since Dalits have been considered impure and inferior humans for ages, being a Dalit homosexual makes it a worse combination. I heard Grace Banu speaking in an interview about how there is zero to no Dalit representation in queer spaces. Is it just a coincidence? Or is this a conscious attempt to marginalize the already marginalized? As we see in other fields, most of the fights against oppression are led by upper-caste upper-class Savarnas. So be it the women’s movement, anti-superstition movement, labor movement-we very seldom see a Dalit leader. Queer movement is no exception. Savarnas try their best to maintain the hierarchy in one way or the other. Dalits have been historically side-lined and have been denied taking up leadership. As a closeted young Dalit queer when I look around, I seldom find someone to look up to. I feel very hopeless right now, I am just trying to survive, doing my daily chores, studying for assessments, making presentations, and reading articles. Basically, I have lost interest in everything in life. But I hope to see a day in future when I will see a more accepting attitude of society towards the Queers.
I can certainly imagine an easier life for Queers in the future. I can recognize the positivity in the new generation. Though I see a huge part of today’s youth cursing the Queer community all the time….but still there is another side of the coin where I sense acceptance, security and peace, a ray of hope. We always say that the society should change but we forget that we are the society and it’s us who are supposed to make the paradigm shift. A day will come when a boy would not have to fear his life to confess his crush over another boy, when a girl can openly call a girl her girlfriend, when people wouldn’t have to face mockery for their choice of clothes. I hope a day will come…..