“I wish I could go back to your age! Happy Birthday,” said my boss on my birthday last week. It got me thinking. Do I want to go back in time? Do I want to revisit some parts of my life? I came out as Queer (Gay) in my late twenties and I feel a lot better, more confident and happier after coming out. As Broom says “Once I was sad. Now I am Gay”.
I would only go back in time if I could go back as the confident and happy Queer that I am now. Only if I had a Queer Time Machine that would take my ‘Out and proud’ self back in time. Assuming I had one, what would I do? What parts of my life I would go back to? What things from my past would I change? What things would I do differently?
I love making lists. So here is my list for the Queer Time Machine (QTM). What is yours?
1) My share of fun : High school was THE worst time of my life. I was a weak, shy kid. I was picked on, bullied and harassed constantly. Some of you might have read my semi-fiction, semi-reality piece “Pain” about bullying. I dreaded P.T (gym) classes! I was so scared of most of the boys in my class, I stayed away from all of them, even at the play ground. The girls in my class used to play this game called “Kho-kho”. The one Salman and Aishwarya play in that song from “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”. It is a very common run and chase game, but played as a team, with the runner and chaser taking turns. I found Kho-Kho thrilling and very exciting. The girls always had so much fun playing Kho-kho. I loved watching them and always wanted to play. I have no idea why, but it was considered a girls game. Since I was already being bullied, I thought it would be a really bad idea to join the girls in Kh0-kho. I never did. If I could go back to my high school days, I would happily join the girls and play Kho-kho, instead of being a lonely, scared kid who never had any fun 🙁
2) Pursue my passion : If you are from South India, you know how special the Tamil month Maargazhi is! Maargazhi falls in the winter (mid-December to mid-January) and is considered a very auspicious month. Temples open early and poojas and paarayanams are heard as early as four in the morning. Maargazhi is also a season for celebrating colorful and elaborate Kolams or Rangolis. Women wake up early and draw beautiful Kolams in their front yards and at temples. As a kid, I loved watching Kolams and was so drawn to the beauty, grace and elegance with which women let their fingers create those magical figures which would leave everyone amused! I had a flair for it. Yes, I did. I would wake up early with my mom, and try Kolams with her. While my sister struggled, I was like a fish in water. Soon the men in my family noticed and mocked me: “Are you a girl? Why are you drawing Kolams?” I felt very ashamed and stopped. If I could go back to my childhood days, I would definitely pursue my passion for Kolams and if anybody mocked me, I wouldn’t hesitate to show them my middle finger dipped in Kola maavu! (Powder used to create Kolams)
3) Follow my heart : It was love at first tight. I was a teenager, so what do you expect? He was the most good looking guy in school. He was charming, fun, kind and warm. We became best friends soon. I loved everything about him. We used to go to these special classes after school. I would ride my bicycle and reach the class twenty minutes early, just to reserve a seat for him, right next to me. After class, even though our houses were in opposite directions, I would ride my bicycle with him to his house and then all the way back to my house. I just wanted those extra ten minutes with him. After a few years, his dad got a job transfer and the family had to leave town. I was so heart-broken that I refused to eat and fell ill with a heavy fever. It got my mom really worried. When I came out to my parents, the first thing my mom said was ” OMG! You were in love with him. Weren’t you?” He is straight as an arrow and now happily married. I am out to him and his wife (she is such a darling). I never told him though that he was my first love. If I could go back to my teen age days, I would definitely follow my heart and tell him those three words: I love you!
4) Stand up against homophobia : During my college days, something very unexpected and unknown happened on campus. A bunch of guys saw two guys kissing in our dormitory. The news spread like a wild fire and the entire college knew about it within two days. That was the time when Deepa Mehta’s Fire was released in India and Indians were slowly being exposed to homosexuality. If “fire” was the mocking name for “lesbos”, “water” was the word for “homos” (some idiots in college came up with these words). People started referring the two guys who kissed as “Water Boys”. Those two boys were ridiculed, verbally abused, and mocked for the rest of their time in college. College life became a living hell for those two. Once best friends, they stopped talking to each other in an attempt to stay off the radar. It was very sad. I watched all of this silently, because I didn’t want anybody else to know that I was gay too. If I could go back to my college days, I would strongly and boldly stand up against the blatant homophobia those two guys faced.
5) Make more honest connections : I grew up in a big family with lots of cousins. Though my high school life was horrible, college wasn’t that bad. I made a lot of great friends. To be surrounded by friends and family most of your life and to wake up one day to realize you are now alone is extremely painful. Some of my loved ones don’t talk to me because I am gay. I don’t stay in touch with some, because I know they can’t handle the fact that I am gay. Some stay in touch with me… barely. Some talk to me, but don’t acknowledge that I am gay. Very, very few, love me for who I am. If I could go back in my life, I would be out from day one and make more honest connections, even if it meant I would have only the handful people I currently have.