Being Different

It’s quite stressful growing up with the constant questions –

Why don’t you like earrings?
Why don’t you put on some make up?
Why don’t you like lipstick?
Why don’t you try on a salwar suit?
Why don’t you try on some bangles?
Why don’t you give saris or traditionals a try?

Being bombarded with these questions and being unable to answer is pretty exhausting mentally. Up until I hit puberty, I never really gave a thought to why my choices did not match with other girls. Fortunately, my parents didn’t give a damn regarding the same either. Things were just happening the way they were. After puberty, all of a sudden, all the girls around me started having crushes on boys – except me. My first crush was actually a female teacher in the 4th standard. I thought it might be fine as I’m just a random kid, like any other, who likes their teachers. But then, it started to make a difference, as I found myself constantly having crushes on my teachers all the way till 7th standard. And then finally, I had a crush on a girl in my own class, while other girls were having crushes on random boys in the same class. I was pretty confused and could not understand why things were happening to me in a different way. I was trying to understand myself by constantly questioning myself about my choices and preferences. It was hard to express what I felt and what was going on in my mind, because once when I tried to tell my classmates, I was mocked with the word ‘gay’. And that was the first time I had an encounter with that word, whose meaning was unknown to me. Back home, I looked up the meaning. But the definition did not match the normal scene around me. I got scared because of the experience I had in school. If it’s not normal, then telling my parents might not be the correct thing to do. I wanted to explore more as I was confused about what it means to be “Gay”. Because being LGBTQ was a big taboo at that time.

Today also the scenario is no different, but the youth have become quite outspoken about it. I wanted to explore it more, as I was not able to accept that I am gay. Eventually, exploring more about the LGBTQ community, I realised there is a more appropriate word given in the dictionary for gay women, which is ‘LESBIAN’. Then, I started searching more. Is there really something like this? After a lot of research and self-exploration, I finally accepted myself the way I am and that was the day the real battle started. I had to face a lot of questions regarding my appearance from my so-called relatives and neighbors. Many of our relatives told my mother, “She is your son, not daughter.” I wondered many times if they all really understood how it felt when they say all these things and if they would have just tried to understand me. The funny thing is, I can’t say anything because they wouldn’t be able to digest the new normal. I read a lot of stories of people coming out to their families and many of them were terrifying as it’s quite hard for parents to accept.

So, I decided to wait for the right time. I tried to prolong it but recently, I came out to my mom and, surprisingly, she listened to me and tried to understand. No doubt it was a shock for her, but no drama took place that I was scared of. She tried to understand me at that moment but, she is still not completely convinced with my choice. I hope for the best for the future and wish myself with more power to handle people’s questions every day.

[Note: While I was exploring myself and my sexuality, there was always one silent support which was not at all judgmental as well as never ever questioned me and was always there like a big pillar by my side. And she was my best friend, Nimisha. She was always there and because of whom this whole path always felt easy. No matter what, she was always there through all my ups and downs, and also to entertain my crush stories and console me through my midnight cries. She is my biggest source of confidence and strength.]

Padmaja Ghaisas
Jalgaon, Maharashtra

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