My tryst with the word ‘refugee’ dates back to my childhood days when I used to listen to the gory, horrifying and saddening stories of partition from a group of Sardaar-Sardaarni uncle and aunts. That was the time when I first heard the word and understood what it meant. I think I should hold my horses here. I actually got the real understanding of the word when I lived like I was living when I came out loud, clear and absolutely unabashed about my sexuality. I think I know the immensity of this word now, more than I ever did during my childhood.
“Refugee,” they said. I’m not quoting the exact definition here. They are the ones who came to India from Pakistan and vice-versa. And what made them refugee was that they were seeking validation from others and were totally dependent for help of any sort from any authority in charge and the rule in the land where they had come to take refuge!
I feel like coming-out as a homosexual is the same thing.
Isn’t it like coming from a different terrain? I mean what’s the point, your folks don’t even know such a thing exists. Yes, that’s the way they put it. “Aisa bhi hota hai?” (This happens as well?)
I wonder at this hour of the night while I’m writing this, what difference will this article make? What in hell will this do?
Can it change the honourable Supreme Courts’ judgement which refuses to identify us and rubbishes us as a ‘minuscule minority’? Dear court or the keeper-of-the-law, isn’t it your duty to protect the rights of a minority, howsoever minuscule it may be? Can it change the social and moral order of contemporary India? Can it anyway bring about a revolution, the way I want it?
Can it help me recognise as one among the equals, who has the right to live, enjoy the fundamental rights, feel free and kiss a man/boy I like out in the public without being judged?
Can it help change the mindset of those people who’re congratulating me on Facebook, saying, “Proud-Of-You, More-Power-To-You?” How does it matter anyway? Was I weak when I didn’t disclose my sexuality? Is it bad enough to be confused than to come to terms with your sexuality?
For almost a year or two, if I’m not wrong, I’m struggling or fighting these questions. Who am I? Where do I fit? Do I fit at all? Which label should I assume?
With this I want you to understand this very interesting compartmentalisation. Either you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, heterosexual, queer, asexual or whatever that may exist. You don’t have the liberty of being who you are without being associated with any of these compartments or assuming any label. With this I mean to say that one has to fit in even in the community itself! They don’t offer you a choice. [Just exploring if someone understands the nuances of being someone, one among the LGBTQIA+ cohort]
It baffles me when I think of this again because I now resonate with the word ‘refugee’ with the intensity with which my neighbours used to narrate me the stories of atrocities.
I’m a refugee here in this country which refuses to grant me the rights which I deserve to exercise just because of a Victorian law which the current government in power feels necessary to be kept in the Constitution, just because a baba, masquerading as a Yoga-guru says homosexuality can be treated and just because there’s an army of saffron brigade which will shove the idea down your throat that homosexuality is an ‘original sin’.
When I think of this, I’ve nothing to do but split my hair. I ponder upon this time and again. I’ve caged myself and I’m sitting with the key in my hand.
I’ve nothing to say but still, I have a lot to say. I want to say to my family that it’s really impossible for me to date a girl. I love them [girls/women] and it’s fine but we’re friends. They know it. And I know it. And that’s where it should be stopped.
I’ve nothing to say but still, I have a lot to say. I want to say to my friends that it’s really nice that you’ve been there with me all this while but I hate when you pass these homophobic jokes. I get uneasy when I see my very own, so-called ‘best friends’ calling someone meetha or gur (one of my eastern U.P. friends’ slang) if they happen to observe that the person whom they’re talking to is slightly effeminate or when they learn that the person is gay.
I’ve nothing to say but still, I have a lot to say. I want to say to my teachers that you’re the real culprit for not guiding us through ‘gender and sexuality’ even though it’s not a part of the curriculum. What more can you expect from an educational board of a country which rules judgement in favour of an archaic and barbaric law?
I’ve nothing to say but still. I have a lot to say. I want to say to everyone that one shouldn’t feel like a refugee in their own bodies.
I don’t know how to sign-off writing this extremely personal essay which will soon attract a thousand eyeballs on the internet.
If I have the liberty, then I should say, ‘Trust me, my friend, there’s something beyond social acceptance and recognition and it’s found somewhere between the process of coming-to-terms with your sexuality and its declaration. It’s the courage of being who you are, a bird who can’t be caged.”