“Do you want to be gay?”
The question still rings in Aman’s ears, followed by the sound of the slap. He still remembers the anger and tone of his father’s voice, exactly as it was. He was 10. He did not know what that word meant. In his mind, he was doing what made him happy, and what made him happy was the right thing to do.
Now 19, Aman is a member of the Delhi University Queer Collective (DUQC). Looking back at those days, and today, he says he has realised the full importance of the accessibility and availability of spaces that are inclusive of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
As we transition from the phase of childhood to adolescence to adulthood, our understanding of ourselves and the perception of the world around us also changes. From a kid who’s slowly noticing the changes in their body and mentality, to a mid-teen who’s romanticising this sudden eruption of sexual desires and fantasies, to a nearing adult who’s learnt how to be in control of them. This is the general course of development for a person who identifies with the heteronormative space of the society.
But, for someone outside it, the period of adolescence and beyond is not only about how to contain one’s desires and fantasies, but also how to correct those ‘tendencies’. Or as it is popularly put, how to ‘outgrow this phase’. In the face of this, many queer people developed a defence mechanism of sorts. For Aman, it was acting masculine, to save himself from bullying. You eventually start hating yourself after a certain point, when your identity is at odds with the societal prescription of functioning.
It can be a shock to enter an environment where who are you physically and mentally attracted to is something that people are the least-bit bothered about. Says Aman, “I was in a space where I was called a sheer black spot in the name of masculinity, because I did not play rugby and chose to read a book instead. To see this pervasiveness of acceptance in the air around did choke my lungs initially. But gradually, I became familiar with (and also a channel of) this circle of love and acceptance.”
That’s when he joined DUQC. For so many of our members, it is heartening, to see positions of responsibility as well as accountability, being taken up by queer people, with allies working alongside.
As we move towards the 1oth year of Delhi Queer Pride on November 12, 2017, we understand more deeply the value of LGBTQIA+ inclusive and affirmative spaces. To further that spirit of inclusion and diversity, DUQC has launched #Write4Pride in association with The Cake and Youth Ki Awaaz, from November 1 to 11.
What are your experiences of being queer, of tackling patriarchy, heteronormativity, and phobia? What does Pride mean to you? A culture of conversation needs to start, to shake the foundations of patriarchy.
Email us your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not forget to use the hashtag #Write4Pride!