Dirty Desi, Grungie Gaysi

Nervously, I rubbed the baking soda and water mixture into my scalp and rinsed it out with diluted lemon juice.  I was surprised that the kitchen supplies actually cleaned my hair.  After getting dressed I rinsed my face with the rose and honey face wash I had made the night before.  I was so proud of myself, but very amused by the whole routine.

I was back at home to visit and my mum said, “What is this?  Another hippie phase?”  I explained to her that phases don’t tend to be life-long.  I have been a misfit since the womb, and I’m sure many of you gaysis feel the same way.  I have been a loner, nerd, grunger, band geek, hippie, girlie, super south asian, dykey, crunchy, feminist, anarchist, and whatever else.

My high school was pretty cool since, although I lived in a small town, I was in the marching band so I knew a pretty diverse group of “band geek” misfits.  It was in the marching band that I was able to become comfortable with myself as a south asian, since there was a significant number of people of color.  I learned a lot from the African American community in the marching band and about the effect of teenage anti-racism on the self-esteem.  It was also in the marching band that I was exposed to queer people who were open about their sexuality, although I hadn’t personally explored my own sexuality yet.

In college, a lot of us in the progressive community went through the “crunchy” phase.  For those of you who don’t know what “crunchy” means, it was first described with an example of a lesbian mother eating granola with a baby in a baby-sling.  Anyway, we thought we were really cool, and to an extent, it was really cool.

For me it started after I came out as a lesbian.  I became involved in progressive politics and wanted to be as left wing as possible, but then I realized it was really obnoxious – the guilt-induced veganism, boycotting EVERY affordable business in town, etc.  In due time, I, and a lot of my friends, became jaded.  For example, I noticed that the crunchy lesbians I was surrounding myself with were all white and that made me feel tokenized and I wanted to find queer people that could make me feel more at home.

Anyway, due to my health, I recently decided to let some crunchiness return.  I started taking some herbal remedies for the side effects of my anti-seizure medications and I’ve started drinking various herbal teas instead of taking painkillers.   I’ve also started watching my meat and dairy intake more.  Sigh.

Sometimes I see white hippies out and about or on the internet and their attitude makes me want to throw it all away – start popping pain killers every time I get a headache and start eating red meat like nobody’s business.  I’ve been frantically contacting my friends from college and confessing to them all the “embarrassing” old hobbies I’ve been picking up – the tarot cards, the homemade shampoo, the vegan idealism, and I keep telling them I need an intervention.

They agree with me that these things are “too much” and laugh along.  I guess they lump me in with these “white hippies.”  While I can laugh along with them, it also annoys me that my extremely intelligent queer friends and my friends who are also people of color are not acknowledging that I am INDIAN.  I tell them that I need them to save me from my embarrassingly naïve and idealistic lifestyle changes, but then I remember… No, colonialism has made this stuff look ridiculous but this is my culture.

Indian and Hindu culture may conflict with queerness for other gaysis but I try to make vedic astrology and moderate vegetarianism something personal and spiritual to me.  However, while I do this, because of this western culture that we live in, I always seem to get labeled as a “hippie”.  I tell them that hippies are the people from the 60’s who took pilgrimages to India, but I just go there to visit my family!  How has western appropriation made me embarrassed to participate in my own culture?

I’m just very amused by all of this so I guess I will continue washing my hair with baking soda and drinking herbal teas until I become jaded again.  🙂

In conclusion: I have been a lonely, nerdy, grungie, geeky, hippie, girlie, super south asian, dykey, crunchy, feminist, anarchist, and now I’m just everything I ever was and everything I ever will be.

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Anurag is a queer, feminist, social worker-to-be. Currently residing in the cornfields of Illinois.  Fierce, emotional and reclaiming the brown-ness. 

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