Given Aher and Awasthy’s prior experience of working in the advocacy space, the 45-year-olds joined hands with others from the community and formed the organisation with the aim of tending exclusively to the needs of trans people—be it accessing primary healthcare, educational and skill-building initiatives, or helping them update their legal documents.
Coming out as a lesbian in India, be it to yourself or to others, signifies the loss of a certain heteronormative script which governs the lives of most people. This script prescribes a certain timeline by which most lives are ruled, especially in India – marriage, children, in-laws, old age. To be queer in India is to realise that this script will never be your life. But even more significant than the loss of this script is the realisation that there are many things in life that you may never have – a lifelong companion, family, love or happiness. At least, this is what I believed.
What happens when you come out to yourself in the middle of a pandemic? I am a 22-year-old cis-woman who spent most of her life invested in heterosexual relationships. Most of my dating life was 'easy' as I navigated through real-life or dating apps looking for people with similar interests as mine. As the heteronormative setup has it, it was never difficult for me to voice my choices or to confess to people I had a liking for.
When we speak about ethical non-monogamy, people often assume that it is a riskier way of relating to one another than monogamy. On the contrary, it can be a liberating way of experiencing intimacy with the myriad folks you meet along the way of life. Each relationship develops its own pattern of bonding, sharing, and companionship, and is peppered with elements of friendship, romance, and sex in different measures. None of these relational experiences are comparable and each of them is cherished in its own right.
In a world where we are taught to be something, do something the moment we’re born, it becomes extremely hard to navigate through life while making sense of what’s being taught to us at the same time. And if you dare question
Children in the school teased me and called me different names like Bauna (Lilliput), Maiki (Womanly), etc. There were lots of confusing changes in my body; each thing seemed different than before and distinct from each other. I was just sure of one thing: that I was a male and related to others of my sex, mentally as well as sexually.
Every other day on Netflix, I watch a queer-affirming, high school series or movie. Elite, The Prom, Glee, Moxie, Sex Education, the list goes on. I …
Sometimes these labels of sexuality caused me more stress and trauma. It led me to the idea of defining all my partnerships and prove time and again my position within the LGBTQIA+ community. My sexuality has been validated with my choices and redefining it with a label was something which was upsetting and deteriorating to my well-being and I believed that it's more than just a mere definition.
Personally, I’ve experienced problems with faculty because of my invisible disability. My disability advisor had never heard of my condition, so she had to Google it while I was explaining it to her. Even then, when I was approved for the accommodation to show up late to class, I was still locked out of class by a teacher. It was really painful and invalidating, and I ended up crying to my disability advisor.
If one doesn’t think life is a war and fashion your armor in the 21st century, some serious soul-searching needs to be done on their part. Used to oppress, fashion does hold the key to opening spaces for those who are cast out for not conforming to the norm (which is not “normal” per se, just more common!), just ask the likes of Calvin Klein, Gianni Versace and Giorgio Armani who monetized it.
Sex is a lot more than just two individuals’ organs (or reproduction, as cis-hets will have you believe); it’s a unity, it’s a blissful cycle of exchanging things like pleasure, power, satisfaction, appreciation. If look towards sex for a deeper meaning, it does give you an explanation to multiple powerful things.
Our obsession with ‘uncovering’ identity is frankly troubling. Even terrifying. We sit restless, wanting to uncover the truth about identity. There is an insistence that something lies beneath, lurking. The underbelly is scary and the surface is never the surface.
If I had met any other queer person or had attended a talk or session in school around sexuality, that would have remarkably helped my self-esteem and confidence while growing up. My limited exposure to narratives of queer sexuality pushed my emotions into a never-ending internal turbulence; a turbulence unbearable for an adolescent person.
There was something about her reassurance that soothed my distress. "Forgive me if I do anything wrong," I managed to blurt out. Smiling widely at my words, she answered, "Never met anyone like you before," she exclaimed, "but I guess I am lucky."
When you realise your boss only does off-the-record, early morning catch-ups with you alone as soon as he discovered you are the gay lead in a play. Off work, he continues to single-handedly use his position of power to intimidate and invalidate you, without ever mentioning your sexuality.
Another cartoon that sticks out to me from that time is Daria. Daria was a show released in 1997, and follows the life of cynical Daria Morgendorffer. Daria is raised in an upper class neighborhood where she feels as if she doesn’t fit in with her peers or family. I found myself relating to her cynical attitude - a cynical attitude that I had adopted for feeling like there was something wrong with me for having my ‘gay thoughts’. But, I also felt myself wanting to watch her more and more. Looking back on it, I’m not sure if it was fully a crush. I just wanted to hang out with someone beautiful who understood what it was like to feel separate from everyone else.
Since we’re in the age of reconsidering the treatment of Britney Spears - and now even Jessica Simpson - who received apologies and reassessed their legacies in public, I think it's time we give Adam Lambert his just due. It would be remiss not to examine how we treated the former American idol not so very long ago. Looking back, we owe Adam Lambert an apology.
“I was called mittha, gud, and different homophobic slurs in my college and office. Once, one of my colleagues threw lemon on my leg and said ‘mitha ja raha hai’. I used to be so stressed and frustrated that I finally had to resign and come back to Lucknow,” Lovepreet shared.
I was anxious
when I was told to come see you—
anxieties many say I shouldn't have felt
had I been with “the right one”.
By and large, the tone of the Indian queer movement has been set by upper-caste Hindus. Queer individuals hailing from dominant-caste backgrounds have an unstated monopoly over the leadership of the movement. In fact, they are the face of the movement.