Growing up, one of the many life lessons that I was taught was, “Pride hath a fall.” I was always told that I should never be proud of myself, but I should work towards making others proud of me. I should be the pride of my family. So, I was socialised into believing that pride is a bad feeling, till much later when feminism came to my life.
For the first time, I learnt that it was possible to be proud of oneself, proud to be a woman. While learning that patriarchy feeds off deprecating women, I decided to be proud of my assigned gender which I had taken for granted all this while. But something about it didn’t feel right and yet the answers remained fuzzy.
Several years of questioning myself in an attempt to find these answers about my gender identity made me realise that it is possible to reject the identity of womanhood and still be the feminist I aspire to be. Being part of queer political spaces, meeting some amazing trans men and gender non-conforming folks allowed me to be more accepting of my transmasculine identity.
However, can I say I am proud to be a transmasculine person? Perhaps not. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that I have very few masculine role models I can actually look up to. There is no denying that I do see a lot of men around me (both cis and trans) trying to reinvent the conventional norms of masculinity. I am perhaps trying to ‘do masculinity’ in my own way, having abhorred the available models around me for so long. Sometimes, successfully so and at other times, questioning all my life choices.
Now, I can imagine the need for marginalised people to be proud of themselves and their identities, having lived lives of stigma and shame throughout and historically. To be able to overcome the stigma and struggles and be able to talk about one’s marginalisation can be empowering. For me, however, it feels incomplete. I have perhaps come to a point where I feel I have spoken enough about my marginalisation and no longer feel so proud of it.
My relative marginalisation seems pale when I reflect upon the myriad privileges I have enjoyed, having been born into an upper caste, upper class, urban-based family with access to elite educational spaces.
In my limited experience, I have seen that the queer pride has rarely moved beyond talking about one’s own marginalisation. In fact, on several occasions, it has silenced voices which have tried to speak of multiple forms of marginalisation by calling it a dilution of the pride agenda. Yes, this space allowed me to come to terms with myself and allowed my scars to heal to a very large extent. I cannot deny the importance that it holds for me and perhaps for many others. The space still remains dear to me. At the same time, it no longer makes me feel so proud.
Perhaps, I have reached a point where I have become indifferent to Pride. But I will still try to reclaim my space within it, while also acknowledging that I have friends who choose not to participate in this celebration of Pride. This unheard side of the story is equally important to me because it means that both the celebrators and the dissenters of this parade make it possible to have multiple narratives about being queer and proud, which are not always coherent.
What are your experiences of being queer, and tackling heteronormativity?
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