Personal Stories

Queer, But Not Enough.

Countless times I have asked myself if I should colour my hair a brighter shade of red, get more piercings (maybe a septum?) or change my clothes, just to look queer enough. Because on more occasions than one, I have been labelled "straight-passing" by fellow members of the community.

Coming to Chandigarh a year ago has been somewhat of a blessing. Here, I have been able to find a queer community that lets me express myself for who I am, which was rare in my hometown. The ability to be in openly queer spaces, without the fear of a sneaky relative questioning me, or the fear of getting harassed, has liberated, and relieved me. But, the more I engage with the friends I make here, the more I feel like an imposter. 

I am a pansexual cis woman and my long-term partner is a straight, cis man. We have been together since before I came out, and it has been the most fulfilling relationship of my life. We took a year to open our relationship so that I could fully explore my sexuality without the guilt of infidelity. Even though I have known that I am definitely not straight, probably since I was in middle school. Watching Winx Club and having a crush on both the fairies and their warlock partners was an early indicator.

Nonetheless, that one year of my life taught me so much about my own heart and body, which I was previously a stranger to. Like how much I love the softness of my Bumble date’s fingertips when she glides them over my face, counting the moles on my cheek. And how other-worldly a girl’s cherry-coloured hair looked in the sunlight, which made my heart full of warm, cosy energy when I gazed upon her laying on the grass. How the little jingling of a woman’s jhumki made me smile as I crossed her in the hallway, her eyes full of warmth, and mine filled with awe.

But even now, when I share my experiences with my queer friend circle, I feel like it is unimportant in some regard. This is despite the fact that it has been made clear to me by my friends, who just so happen to be the most genuinely loving and ardent people I have ever met, that I am in an accepting and safe environment. But when one of my friends is a trans-masc, asexual, non-binary person with a disability, another a transwoman who comes from an unconventional family and another, a bisexual man from a traditional household who is still (mostly) in the closet, my own problems take a backseat, at least in my head. Sometimes I feel I lack the necessary adjectives before my name to solidify the queerness in my identity.

In queer gatherings, I have openly been made fun of for dating a cis, straight man. My queerness has been invalidated on multiple occasions. I have been told, quoted verbatim: “Tujhe to hum ginte hi nahi hain” (we don’t even count you in) by a lesbian acquaintance.

I have been challenged to kiss a woman to prove that I am “really queer” knowing full well that I am in an exclusive relationship. I have been made fun of for the way I dress, on multiple occasions by gay men, because it is ‘too fem’ as per the standards they have for queer women’s fashion.

My mother took my coming out surprisingly well, and although not fully on board with the idea, my safety and happiness are her main concerns. My dad, bless his heart, still doesn’t fully understand the concept of not being straight, but will always ask questions and try to learn.

But the problems I face with my family never fully translate into conversations with friends, at least not to their full severity. My paraplegic mother, slowly learning to live as a disabled person in her 50s; my aging father, who is losing the grasp on his memory and bodily functions without the realization; and my unaccepting, conservative elder sister, whose mind functions like that of your average WhatsApp uncle, has sometimes made me want to escape reality and go someplace alien.

My mental illnesses have taken a toll on not just my mind but also my body. From walking several kilometres with ease to struggling to leave my bed, it has been an experience I wish upon no one. But even when I want to communicate how I feel, I always end up holding myself back from unloading this tsunami of emotions that is trying unrelentingly to break free, in front of my friends. Because I know for a fact that they are going through battles of their own; battles, which have left them tired. And no matter how hard I try to convince myself that it is not a competition, my friends’ struggles always take the gold, in my head. My friends know what I am going through, just not the full extent of it. And I prefer it to be that way, they have a lot on their plate already.

Countless times I have asked myself if I should colour my hair a brighter shade of red, get more piercings (maybe a septum?) or change my clothes, just to look queer enough. Because on more occasions than one, I have been labelled “straight-passing” by fellow members of the community. 

For 18 years of my life, I have tried to find comfort in the way I am, hoping to find a haven for the weird cousin I was at every family gathering, only to now be the unwanted cis-woman at a queer event who just happens to be there. At 23, I was blessed with a community of like-minded folks who not only inspired me but also taught me some of the most valuable lessons of my life. And while I will be forever grateful for the genuine support I have received from the community and the abundance of love that has been showered over me, I always seem to not validate my own identity.

When will I be enough to just exist? When can I stop trying to prove to people that I am queer? Queer enough!

One thought on “Queer, But Not Enough.

  1. Di you don’t need to prove anything to anyone of being a queer or not…just live the life in your own terms…in the way you are more comfortable and happy…my best wishes are always there for you…and hoping that one day society understand us and still in search of my charming prince in my life…just like as you got, the best out of best for yourself….who standby there for you🙂
    Best regards

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I'm a counselling and educational psychologist. I have a passion for travelling, working with children, service to animals and collecting pretty trinkets for my journaling. For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of reading and now, I can't end a day without reading at least a bit of what I love. My favorite quality in a human is empathy, which I believe we are all capable of. I'm a pansexual woman and an advocate for queer and women's rights.

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