Rajneesh, 21, is a queer feminist pursuing his bachelors in computer engineering from NSIT.
I had just finished an exam on a Friday afternoon and was looking forward to starting the weekend. So I changed, wore my favourite dress and went to my favourite hangout at Connaught Place (CP).
I was quite fond of the place because of the ambience and cost-effectiveness. It was familiar. However, when I went up the stairs to the entrance, the doorman bluntly asked me what was I wearing. I was at a loss for words. He told me that I wouldn’t be allowed in wearing those clothes.
The words hit me hard. I had tipped him multiple times just in the last month. Today he stopped me at the gate. He not only questioned me about my attire but also did not allow me inside.
I maintained my composure, forced a smile and asked him one last time, ‘So you won’t let me in’?
The response was negative.
I turned around and then wandered around the block, trying not to think about what had just happened.
I definitely didn’t want to change my plans because of somebody’s prejudices. Though I was sceptical I still went to another lounge. When I was seated at the table there and served, it felt euphoric.
Once my nerves calmed down, realisation of the day’s events washed over me once again. I had just been turned away from a place I had spent good money until then. I had went there wearing shirts before, and was served.
When I showed up in a dress, I was turned away at the door.
I had noticed women wear the same kind of dresses and being allowed in. So why not me? My money was suddenly not worth taking? My anger soon turned into tears. I went to the washroom and cried my heart out, though I am not particularly proud of it.
Over and over again
I was still quite upset when I settled the bill and got out of there. So, I called my friend Abhi to see if we could talk. He had an exam the other day but when he heard I was upset, he came to see me.
We hugged and I recounted the humiliation I had faced that day. Abhi listened patiently as I cried my heart out.
It was an eye opener for Abhi too. He never imagined such discrimination, based on what I was wearing, was at all possible, that too in CP – one of Delhi’s common queer hangout spot.
I might have recounted the incident so many times to him that night. He sat all night through and just heard me patiently. His being there for me at the time when I needed him the most meant a lot to me.
Cheering me up
After I was done, he offered to give me a ride back home. I freshened up and washed my face so it didn’t look like I had been bawling my eyes out. He suggested we wait until I am in a better state of mind lest I have to explain myself at home. So we also had an ice cream.
He continued making small talk and telling lame jokes in an attempt to cheer me up. After a while, I was much better and could talk of the day’s events and the humiliation without breaking down into tears.
He dropped me home and also texted to check on me that night. He was concerned about me the next day too. More support poured in from my other friends when I wrote about the incident on my Facebook page warning my peers about the place.
Despite all that happened to me, I am glad I had Abhi in my corner that day.
To protect the identity, the persons in the picture are models.
Rajneesh shared his story with Love Matters India for our campaign #AgarTumSaathHo - celebrating Support, Acceptance and Allyship at the International Pride Month 2019. Through the month, we will publish stories of support, acceptance, love, and respect that members of the LGBTQ community have given and/or received from friends, colleagues, parents, teachers, partners or society at large.