Siddhant is a master's student at Tata Institue of Social Sciences. He recently developed a curriculum on comprehensive sexuality education for boys. His interest lies in working around men and masculinities.
Hurt and angry
I was on a school mountain biking trip when someone referred to me as chakka. I was sixteen at the time. At that moment, I didn’t know how to react and wasn't sure if it was their tone or the actual term that hurt me more.
I just wished for the trip to just come to an end. I tried to ignore them but they would find ways and means to corner and harass me. I felt annoyed with myself because I could not defend myself. I heaved a sigh of relief when the trip did come to an end hoping this incident would soon be forgotten.
Joking to fit in
But I was wrong. Back at school, my batch mates also started teasing me, calling me feminine names. They used to point at me, their hands bend downward, a physical expression which thanks to Bollywood, is considered a homosexual mannerism.
While the imitation didn’t bother me that much, the laughter and mockery is what hurt most. The same people also spread the word that I was a homosexual. Because of this I stopped speaking to people around me, started isolating myself, and stopped considering myself good enough for other people. I started tried very hard to fit in, even to the extent of making homophobic jokes.
Ladkiyon wale kaam
This crisis was made worse by the fact that I was interested in activities that were considered feminine. I preferred talking over playing sports and really enjoyed cooking. When I told people that I wanted to be a chef, they would giggle saying he likes all ‘ladkiyon wale kaam’. I began to shrug such criticism, knowing most world-famous chef were both men and women. I told them it was a personal choice and that nobody should interfere with it. Most conversations would come to an abrupt end at this point.
Embracing what’s natural
As school came to an end, I hoped that my body language wouldn’t define my identity at college and I would not have to deal all these horrible names. Fortunately, my college environment was such that I was surrounded by people who accepted me as I was and helped me understand the concepts of gender and sexuality.
During this period, I was also introduced to a non-profit organisation that works on sexuality. Having been engaged with this organisation for over a year and a half has enabled me to understand myself better and developed my confidence.
I realised that I need not feel bad when people refer to me as a homosexual. Homosexuality is natural and if anything is wrong or unnatural, it is their thinking. I also realised that ‘being feminine’ wasn’t something I needed to shameful about. If anything, I needed to embrace it wholeheartedly for all the wonderful qualities it bestowed on me.
I found me
Today as a bi-curious person, I have found a community that I feel a part of, that I know accepts me for who I am, instead of asking or expecting me to change my identity or behaviour in order to fit or be accepted. I now have the space to explore my body and my sexuality without any judgment. I also hope to be an ally and support anyone who themselves are facing or have faced a similar situation or discriminatory experience.
*To protect the identity, the person/s in the picture is a model.