I am a decent Punjabi girl from a decent family. I studied in a school only a selective population in this country could afford, I am studying what I wanted the way I wanted it. I have rules, regulations, biases and prejudice held up against me often, sometimes as an example of what I should not turn into. I have been raised by a single parent, who is well educated and may even be elite, but that does not spare me the wrath of society, and sometimes, even parental bias.
The point I’m trying to make is, despite having a shit-ton of privilege, I am learning something new each day, primarily because I have been brought up in a somewhat conservative, somewhat well-educated and aware environment.
When we say things are changing today, we mean two things; one, we are all trying to look at a wider spectrum of reality, and two, we are constantly facing new facts, which make or break our beliefs. Ever since the inception of social media, things are changing at a higher speed, and this makes it difficult to keep pace with the amount of development there has happened or is happening.
The past few years have been an eye-opener, primarily because I took my head out of my own ass and started looking around, trying to feel more, trying to do more. With the recent developments in the #MeToo movement, I was forced to look back at its very history and it was baffling to see how many people were brave enough to come out with their truths and face their demons. I had read somewhere that blood, tears and sweat don’t discriminate, they each hurt equally. In this case too, regardless of finances, societal position, age, religion, outfit and gender, the violation did not discriminate.
Gender. To be very honest with you, where I have been all my life, the company, the place, even my educational institutes have taught me there are three genders, Male, Female. and the taboo-ed Other. Not only is this wrong fundamentally, but it is also insulting and insensitive. For generations, we have suppressed any sort of truth we were uncomfortable with, even if it meant suppressing a part of the global population. Why is ‘coming out’ such a milestone in the first place? Because (a) we have been accustomed to this suppression and (b) making somebody uncomfortable in their own body does not matter if it keeps our idea of ‘normalcy’ alive. I was taught to not make eye contact, I was taught to look through, I was taught this was not normal, that something about it was not right. Well, I was evidently taught the wrong things. And I was not alone. As a child, of course, I listened and even adhered to what I was taught. I learned to look the other way, I learned to look past, I learned to not acknowledge, I also learnt to use identities and truths as abuses to make any argument stronger. Fighting my bias took time, but I realized that in order to come up front with the truth, I had to know what the truth is. So, instead of asking someone, I went seeking answers to the Internet.
Now, the Internet played a very important role because there were no supervisors here. You could be anything you liked, no one would chaperone you. This, of course, had many side-effects of its own, but that is another discussion for another day. For now, as a clueless 15 year old, I wanted to know what was the flaw in the truths I was so happy believing. I Googled gender and was surprised the there were sub-parts to the Other.
LGBTQ+. I did not even understand what most of this meant. There were people who were biologically female but had a male gender expression, and vice versa. Then there were so many who were biologically male but identified strongly as female (and the other way around), and wanted to turn their mental reality into a physical one. There were those who loved their own kind, those who loved the opposite kind, and those who’s love did not know discrimination.
I went on to read tales from mouths which knew no acceptance, staying in the shadows was now in their nature. I read that the laws of our country dictated what these people felt was not valid. That the only truth they knew as their own was a lie. It was frustrating, primarily because we are a people who harp about our doctors and engineers and the little bit of education we have all received. What use is an education if it allows you to shun your conscience in the name of normalcy. I did more research, I read more, and then, I had to sit back and deal with my own demons. Personally, if you are a heterosexual male/female, things are easier. You do things the way you do and it fits into a grid. It is normal. It is valid. I had to now sit back and undo all the damage society had done to me. I had to start at home, where once my brother said he would ‘turn’ gay if his schooling in a same-gender school was upheld. I had to learn that sexuality is not acquired, it is who you inherently are. The only thing one needs to acquire is the courage to show this reality to the world. I had to sensitize myself to never assume. To be honest with you, I still have to, sometimes twice a day.
I am consciously reminding myself that someone else’s life and the way they decide to live it, is none of my business. I am trying to read more, listen more, and speak more. I am learning to be more tolerant each day, even towards things I was taught which are inherently wrong; and as of now, it’s working out for me. This year, the Courts of this country also acknowledged this part of the population and gave them the freedom to finally be themselves. Nothing makes one happier than knowing that they are not alone and that they are valid.
Nothing except my gut affects my instinct any more. There is a lot of positivity and love at the end of the road, and I want as much of it as I can lay my hands on.