It has been a constant battle to come to terms with my identity and sexuality. I had to gather a lot of courage since childhood to accept who I am, partly because I have had several bad phases in the beginning that have left deep scars.
I don’t think I ever had the choice to be like this, but this is who I am! To be honest, the struggle is quite unending – first me convincing myself that I am gay, and now, convincing the world that we exist and how we too are a part of this society. We may be different but we are, for sure, not defective.
You feel worse when your dearest ones fail to understand you and make fun of you. More often than not, they go against you. Sometimes, when I look back in time, I recall how my cousins never understood me. I was like any other kid but I had a ‘feminine’ side as well. I played with my mother’s saree, dupatta, heels and lipstick. I would use her makeup kit whenever I had a chance. I enjoyed it thoroughly and felt comfortable doing this. My mother, father and brother were bemused but never paid much attention and brushed it off each time.
However, in this process, my cousins never left a chance to tease and mock me. Soon thereafter, my neighbours also started calling me a girl because I didn’t play cricket and enjoyed girls’ company more. They gave names like, ‘Bijli’, ‘Gaddan’ & ‘Maa di kudi’.
I had a sense of helplessness and embarrassment each time when somebody ridiculed me. So to counter it, I began to show that I was nothing short of a ‘cool dude’. I could change myself outside, but inside, only I knew how I felt. I felt broken when things fell out of proportion. My school mates gave me the title of ‘hijra’. I was only 10 then.
Because of the constant teasing and humiliation I had to bear at that age, I went into depression and stopped interacting with the people around me. I didn’t communicate with anyone for two years, including my closest of cousins as well. It was a hard time, I recall. I even tried ending my life but couldn’t. However, I believe my mother understood the state of my mental health and changed my school in class 7. It was a good English medium school. Since everyone was new, they didn’t harass me either. But I always lived under a constant fear. I had completely become the opposite of who I was in my previous school. I used to be an active and notorious child, but in the new school, I had clearly become reclusive. Nevertheless, the ‘recluse’ label was better than the uglier ones I had gotten before.
Ever since then, I have been the same. It’s been five years since I left home but the childhood scars still are pretty much fresh – I haven’t healed. I am still afraid of people ridiculing me. I am bold and open with my close friends, but I still prefer being a quiet person with everyone else. I hope this fear doesn’t stay with me forever.