Note: Read Pavel Sagolsem’s full story created by Mann Mela here.Mann Mela is a digital museum of stories about young people’s mental health in India. Through featuring real individuals’ stories, we aim to tackle common misconceptions about mental health, address common mental health problems and illnesses, and share information on how to seek help, tackle stigma and build resilience.
I was born male.
I grew up in Manipur in the North East of India in the Meitei community, an indigenous group and the dominant community there. I hate the fact that I had to get away from my land and people to feel good about being who I am. I call it ‘self-exile’ and while it is adventurous and fun, sometimes it just feels unfair.
If you’re not a ‘regular masculine boy’ or a ‘typical feminine girl’, you are ridiculed and bullied. ‘Homo’ is a derogatory word that makes us uncomfortable in our own skin and ashamed of our bodies.
Over time I too internalized the discrimination, taboo and social stigma. It was embedded deeper and deeper until one day everything felt so thickly walled in that even my face learned how to cover it all up, all my repressed desires and wishes…
But, this whole journey, all of it—where I began from and where I am now, the decisions I made, (brave and not so brave, good and not so good), all my feelings including rejection and disappointment, my accomplishments—when I piece them all together it makes up SUCH a rich story!
It is also a matter of how you tell your stories. I feel my story is rich. All the bad moments, all the happy moments, they are not in isolation of each other. This way of thinking has always been very helpful to me and gives me momentary relief when I feel depressed.
Read Pavel Sagolsem’s full story created by Mann Mela at www.mannmela.in
Pavel writes and conducts training on sexuality and gender, LGBTQIA+, and co-founded the Chinky Homo project that aims to compile an anthology of lived realities of a queer person from North East India. Pavel studied at MSU Baroda and Hyderabad Central University pursuing applied linguistic and translation studies, and gender studies at Ambedkar University, Delhi. Through their work, they try to understand themselves and the community they belong to better.