This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Annie Singhal. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Painting The Town Queer: Understanding My Own Queer-ness

I am Queer, but do I fit in or stand out?

The interpretations of the word ‘Queer’, originally meant to define something odd or strange, have not been overdone enough. It is commonly confused with being gay, or as an umbrella term for LGBT. Or rather, we sometimes see it plopped at the end of LGBTIA(Q). Everyone seems to have an idea of what their sense of someone, or themselves, being ‘Queer’ is, making it a flexible enough identity to build my articulations of my ‘self’ around.

Before I begin, let’s get this out of our way: my gender identity is gender fluid, my chosen gender performativity is female, and my sexual orientation is pansexual. All of this… is me, a Queer person.

For me, the word queer is like a slice of bread – full of possibilities! You can do anything with it, be it any flavour of jam, toasted, dunked in milk, used in dessert or a main course, grilled with cheese, a simple sandwich or the one with multiple layers, or even just have it plain. It covers a lot, like the umbrella term that it is. However, at the end of the day, it is about how one wants to express, appear, feel, love… and be.

But is this ‘being’ so simple and easy to exercise, especially with people ready to tell you what queer does and does not mean? I mean, can you imagine people trying to put ‘Queer’ in a box? Oh, come on!

People have asked me what gender fluid means over and over again, while I have asked them to use the internet to get the very basic knowledge of things, and then come and have a conversation about it. Popular lesbians in the Delhi LGBTQIA (as if there is much of I and A visible here) have been shocked to discover the fluidity of my sexuality. In case you are a ‘biological female’ who sleeps with men (only one of the genders you are into), the ‘pure lesbians’ will judge you. I know this might make me sound bitter, but this is coming from a place of having received shocked expressions and taunts from the ‘swachh swachh lesbians’ who only sleep with their kind!

I do understand the pain of the experience of a female lover choosing a man (or a dick) over you. I have been there too… multiple times! However, the projection of the fear of such experiences feels like a phobia, which is discriminatory in nature.

On the other side of the meadow, I have had several men deduce ‘bisexual’ from me mentioning the word ‘Queer’. I don’t think there is enough awareness out there about bisexuals and biphobia in the first place because for most people, the only two genders that exist are men and women.

Statements like “Oh! Why don’t you just admit already that you like sleeping with men” and “Whom do you like better in bed – men or women?” have me thinking – which part of being Queer did these people not understand? Surprisingly, for me, such incidents have happened inside and outside the LGBTQIA community multiple times. LGBTQIA is not just about one’s sexual identity but gender identity, expression, performance, and so much more.

So, let’s see if we can figure out an equation to make things easier for… umm… you’d know.

Queer = LGBTQIA + so much more of my ‘self’.

‘I’ doesn’t only and always mean the gender and sexual identity, does it? ‘I’ am a lot more than that for me. I am my anxiety, my sadness, caste, class, religion, region, profession, politics, parents, abuse, survivor, oppression, perpetrator, education, language, privilege, food, and so on. While being so many experiences and choices, how can my sense of identity be limited to the structure of gender and sexuality? So, I define my idea of ‘Queer’ as being all this, because for me none of these identities can exist in isolation.

I call myself queer, as it allows me the fluidity to move about in myself and the various environments and identities I interact with. This fluidity also has space for me to express my sexuality in any way I want, and to feel safe against my history of child sexual abuse (CSA) every single time. Having a lot of triggers, for one, means I don’t feel comfortable around most people – physically, mentally, and emotionally. The fluidity I find in queerness helps me experience my body and mind sexually when I want, however I want, and with whoever I want.

You must be to comment.
  1. A L

    Leaving a comment to let you know that this article has been nominated for a Women’s Web Orange Flower Award under the category of ‘Writing on LGBT+ issues’. Here is the link to the nomination:

More from Annie Singhal

Similar Posts

By Aqsa Shaikh

By Suryatapa Mukherjee

By Ungender Legal Advisory

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below