A letter to all ‘well meaning’ people who think we don’t need Pride Marches or to talk about homosexuality at all!

​”I am all for LGBT rights but why do you people have to be so loud and flamboyant?”

“I think 377 should be removed but Pride marches should be banned.”

“I understand it’s not a choice but really who cares what you do in bedrooms. Why shout about it on the streets?”

“377 is not even enforced. Just don’t talk about gay sex, no one is checking your bedrooms.”

“People like you are the reason why no one supports LGBT rights. You make everyone uncomfortable with your parades and vulgar talks about sex.”

You know what? Just fuck off. If you think by just saying ‘i don’t mind gay people’ you are being supportive, you are not. You are just saying you are indifferent and it doesn’t matter. Which is fine, which is great, which is quite preferable. But don’t pretend that you care.

Indifference is not the same as actually caring. And when the biggest issue about standing for our cause to you is the ‘inconvenience’ of having to hear us talk about sexuality,watch us openly asking for our rights, see us celebrating our existence and being counted as a part of the society, then fuck you and your ‘pity’.

You don’t get to demand and dictate how we ask for our rights, as if you would have cared or advocated for us if we chose to sit quietly. We are not fighting to convince you anything, we are not asking for your ‘pity’ or ‘sympathy’. We are fighting to be left alone, to have the shackles of regressive laws removed from the private parts of our lives, to reclaim our own space in our society and country.

You don’t have to look at us if you don’t want to, you don’t have to hear us if you don’t want to. You can go on pretending we don’t exist as you have for ages. But don’t dare to ask us to quiet down our voice or tone down our visibility because it makes you ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘inconvenient’.

You know what is uncomfortable and inconvenient? To have to explain and justify your personal lives, your intimate relationships, your sexual choices or lack thereof to each and everyone. To have to lie and hide integral parts of your identity, your personality from your closest friends and family because you could be humiliated, mocked, isolated, locked up, beaten up or even killed. To feel that you owe an explanation to everyone as to why you are the way you are

So if you think your discomfort and inconvenience you feel from us coming out and talking about ourselves and celebrating our existence is excuse enough for us to shut up.

Just fuck off.

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Koel in the nest

Seema restlessly fidgeted in her chair. The wrinkles on her forehead made her seem a decade older than she was. She waited impatiently for the cause of her accelerated aging to come home so she could give him a piece of her mind for being a self absorbed asshole.

“Maa ji….chai.”

Her reverie was broken by the scent of her bahu’s special ‘adrak wali’ chai made specially for her. She looked adoringly at Simran, her lovely daughter-in-law. Fair skinned, rosy cheeks, and eyes that seemed drawn by Raja Ravi Verma, she looked like Maa Durga. She was not only skilled in cooking both traditional and fast food but also had a head for finances and budget. Without splurging on clothes and cosmetics she managed to exude radiance and gorgeousness. She herself however seemed completely unaware of her own beauty. Soft spoken and mild natured, she was always respectful of her elders and cared for every member of the family. Seema never had to tell her anything twice and they never had any argument. She felt more at peace and relaxed ever since she passed on the reins of the household to her daughter in law. She could not have been prouder of her choice. She loved her more than she would have loved her own daughter
Which is why she could not fathom why despite a year having passed since her arrival, Simran’s smile had gradually diminished to the point of non existence. She had prodded her a lot for answers but she always managed to evade the questions with a fake smile. But of late Simran could not hide her puffy and red eyes or the sunken cheeks.
Ever since the wedding her son had grown more and more distant. She initially ignored it, thinking it was the pressure of starting a new family. But he could now rarely be seen around in the house. He would leave early, come home late and go to sleep as soon as he had his dinner. Grunts and nods were his only means of communication. He would rarely look up at her when she tried to talk about anything.

She then realised even the new wife was subject to the same treatment. She finally decided enough was enough. It was time to knock some senses into her stupid son and remind him of his duties as a son and a husband. Today she was determined to corner him and force him to speak. Which is why she was awake way past her bedtime.

She heard footsteps, and a key turning in the lock. Deepak walked in, looked at her sitting up awake. He didn’t ask why or what and sat down on the sofa, taking off his shoes. Seema could no longer stand his indifferent attitude.

“At least you could care enough to ask why i am up so late?”

“Why are you up so late?” he asked mechanically, still focussed on his shoes. Her patience was now evaporating fast.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to pretend to care about me. I am old now, I am just a baggage waiting to be dispatched off. But can you at least pretend to care about your own wife? Have you asked her how she is?”

“Why? Did something happen to her? I don’t remember saying or doing anything to upset her. I stay out of her way, she can do anything she wants, she doesn’t need my permission. She even manages my salary. I never have asked her to justify any money that she spends.”

She looked aghast at her son. This was not the boy she brought up. When did that cute, naughty and sweet boy that played in her arms become this cold, unfeeling man.

“What are you saying Deepu? Is that all you care about? Is that all you think there is to life and relationships? Have you become so money minded that peoples feelings don’t matter to you anymore? How much time have you spent with her in the past one year? Have you even noticed how much weight she has lost and how little sleep she gets. I can forgive you for ignoring me. Even though I did everything I could to show my love for you -“

“THAT’S a lie.”

A deafening silence exploded in the room at his eruption. Seemas eyes widened in shock. Not just at the fact that her son raised his voice against her, but at the ferocity that glared in his eyes as for the first time in a year he looked up at her.

“It’s a lie that you love me, Ma.” Deepak now spoke gently, but firmly, still looking her in the eye but with a softened gaze, as if explaining to a child

“What you love is ‘a son’, but that son need not necessarily be me. In fact, had anybody other than me been your son, you would have been a lot happier. Whatever you decided for me, you did thinking of the son you wanted, not the one you had. I don’t blame you, you did not have a choice in that matter. Like children cannot choose their own parents, parents too cannot choose who they are giving birth too. But they can try to shape them up in the image they have pre-conceived. But try as much, there are some things that you cannot fundamentally change. Children will grow up to be who they are. I was never and I can never be the son you want, Ma. But I tried my best to pretend to be.    I will forever be grateful for the love and care you gave to me. But I feel like an impostor who cheated you by pretending to be your son, or rather, the son you wanted. I never wanted to marry Simran, or any other girl. I had told you why. But you refused to listen, refused to understand. You threw a tantrum and forced me into this marriage. You ignored my feelings. You pretended like everything was going to be fine. Because I was your son, and you thought you knew best. I realised, you were not thinking about me, because you didn’t even notice how heavy my heart was on the day of the wedding. You turned away when Sahil came at my wedding to say his goodbyes and I was left a staggering, teary mess of nothing. You dragged me into the altar even when all I wanted was to die. All the while smiling and pretending everything was fine. After Simran stepped into the house, you wore the proudest smile and flaunted her to all your friends and relatives. But you never paid attention to how crushed I was. But I bore it all, for your sake. I was not the son you wanted, but she was the daughter in law you always wanted. You could not choose your son, but at least you now had a daughter of your choice. You asked whether I think money is all that is there in life and relationships? A year ago I would have said no. But today, I have learnt to live for it. Because providing you two the comforts brought by money is the only happiness I can give you. It’s the only way I can right the wrongs I have done to both of you. By both marrying her, and being born to you, in deception. I have nothing else to give. If you want grandchildren, I can try, with Simran’s permission. I will provide for them, and their education. You and Simran can try finding your joy with them. I will learn to be content the way I am. I have gotten good in a year. Don’t you think so?

Deepak didn’t wait for an answer. He walked away into his bedroom, leaving the food waiting for him on the dining table untouched.

Seema sat motionless in the couch. Streams of tears flowing down her cheeks. Her chest hurting with the pricks of a thousand pieces of a shattered heart.

Pride: Pune, The second Chapter

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Its almost been a year (10 months to be more precise) since I attended my first Pride march, here in Pune. Last Sunday again I got the chance to be a part of Pune’s 5th pride march. The last time I was there, I was a lonely guy who didn’t know anyone out there and just showed up out of the blue because I wanted to feel the sense of belonging, ironically, from all strangers. And I was right, all the people there were a part of a giant family, which so readily welcomed me and made me feel at ease. The feeling of pride and acceptance from the fellow members of the community and the allies really lit the fire of passion for freedom and self acceptance in me. The shy, nerdy, silent, awkward and introverted boy found it in himself to shout out loud on the streets filled with strangers alongside a newly adopted family. An hour at most, the pride lasted, an hour where I shouted loud enough for all the years I had spent silent. For all the other guys who were still silent. I wanted my voice to reassure me and them….that change is possible …that it is possible to be able to love and respect yourself for who you are and to be loved and respected for who you are. 10 months in Pune have gone so soon…it is hard to believe. I have hardly began exploring the city. And already have a love hate relationship with my job. But the friends I made here. The very first members of my newly adopted queer family in Pune, they have kept me anchored to this city and given me memories so fond that I will cherish them as some of the best moments of my life.

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In the last pride I met Manoj, we had a spark instantly, and he has been my guide, mentor and friend in the Queer culture of this city. We spent time together, got close, even worked together. Though I am sure at times I might have been a pain in the ass (No…not the kind you are imagining. Just Stop!). He still put up with me and introduced me to a lot of wonderful people. I would like to take this chance to thank him for being who he is. He really is a darling gem of a human being. And the night before the pride was an absolute riot as was the night of the pride (we won’t be talking about the latter).

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Thanks to Manoj’s ‘mehendi ki rasam’ I got overexcited and managed to get my hands mehendid as well. But Sumit really did an excellent job and I have girls in my office requesting me to get him to mehendi their hands. I got to meet a lot of people from the community (whom I have been stalking) this year and really, really enjoyed my time with all. Sumit, Aditya, Mayuresh, Chandramohan, Anup, Partha, Krsna, Sagar, I really had a fun time with all of you guys.

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And Aniket, I am really glad that we finally met. You are one of the sweetest, most decent guy I know and you certainly have a lot of guts! Vishal….you too are one of the sweetest guys and so helpful, supportive and encouraging always. I am really lucky to have found you guys. Wish instead of being annual, Pride marches were monthly. It would give us all more excuse to keep gathering and enjoying that familial energy.
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Pride: The Guwahati Chapter [15/02/2015]

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I know the pride was over a week before I began writing this. But I have been very busy the past week as this Pride not only turned out to be the MOST happening amongst the three prides have been to but also as this pride bestowed me a gift of a special companionship, that which I thoroughly enjoyed the entire week, and which I hope to carry forward into the future. This week indeed has been the most magical week of my life.

The North-East Pride Walk might have not been as grand an affair as the Pune pride, nor it might have had the 5000 strong turnover as the Mumbai pride, but what set it apart was that it consisted of people who were not entirely strangers to each other. There was a familial feel to the entire crowd and conversation flowed easily and freely among all the participants. Also it was one of the few Prides in the country that had presented dance performances, and poetry recitation.

On a personal level this Pride meant a lot more to me than any other could. This was the first pride march in my hometown I was attending, this was the first time I was involved in a pride in a way more than just as a participant,it was the first time I was not going to a pride alone but with real friends. And most importantly, this was the pride in which I got clicked in a lot of photos! 😛

For me the Pride never ended on that day, it seemed to carry on the entire week. Each time we guys met it was like a mini-pride, we really enjoyed the company where we could be truly ourselves, where we didn’t give a shit to what would be thought of us, where we would cuss and talk of the dirtiest, grossest, weirdest things (especially some girls :P) and not bother who’s listening. It was pride each time I met you and walked about holding hands in SK, in the bus, near Brahmaputra and talked and enjoyed each others company. It was pride when the three of us shared those soothing moments sitting on a rock on the river-shore in Umananda. This entire week has been an unforgettable journey and it really makes me sad that right now I am miles away from u guys and will be many more miles away in a few hours. But I hope to live those moments again with you and until then I will just cherish them.

 

 

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Some friendships grow when u spend a lifetime together….but a moment spent with some special friends seems like an entire lifetime. Love you guys. And to someone special….I Love You….and I will make you mine. 🙂

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Pride: The Mumbai Chapter [31/01/2015]

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So just been to my 2nd pride march! Queer Azaadi Movement! I m trying to stick to my promise of attending as much of such events that I can….he…he…he. However until the last minute I wasnt even sure I would go or not. On saturday I woke up at 7:30 had my bath, packed my essentials and set off towards Mumbai. Had to change 2 buses to get to the Main bus terminus…then got off at Sion, took another bus to Mumbai Central and walked from there to August Kranti Maidan. By the time I reached it was already 2:30 and people had already started gathering. I could see the variety of people that had showed up in all kinds of costumes and dresses. And sheer number of people were astounding! There were already thousands and more and more were pouring in.
Now I was stuck with a weird dilemma. This was my first visit to Mumbai and I was all alone, I started frantically to look for any familiar face  so as not to feel too awkward and my luck favored when I spotted Anuvab….we met only on Facebook but I recognised him easily enough. It didnt feel at all like we were meeting the first time and we gelled really well and clicked pics. In fact all the pics I have were clicked by him as my already useless phone had also ran out of battery and I hadnt had the chance of charging it.

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By now some people had gathered on the stage and I had not even recognised Harish Iyyer, one of the leading members of the community who had also appeared with Amir Khan on his show ‘Satyamev Jayate’.
He gave his opening speech, and really impressed and enthralled everyone with his witty and humorous take on the concerned issues and Sec 377. He also did not forget to thank all the organisers, the media, the police and all straight allies as well. After which many other prominent members and supporters of the community also took the chance to send a message or shout slogans. Amongst them were Sushant Digvikar of Bigg Boss fame, his father, a proud mother of a lesbian girl and a proud girl of two lesbian mothers. Harish even asked for participants to come up on stage whence I took my chance to get up on stage and tell them how I felt….that though I had come alone for the first time to this city it felt like I had come home. By then all my initial awkwardness had vanished and I now felt one with the crowd. Oh…and I also got my face painted there, a blazing Sun on my left cheek and an anti-377 sign on my right. We were given pride flags and badges and as the march started it felt soo fabulous (yes i can use that word, i am gay). There was a huuuge pride flag that about 10-15 people were holding and waving through the entire march. At one point many people even marched right under it. And there were so many uniquely and beautifully dressed people, the versatility of the crowd really blew my mind. I also took my chance to eye all the eye candies I had no chance with :D. We marched for about 1 hours through streets, the names of which I dont remember.
And through the entire march everyone enjoyed….some were busy photographing, some were making sure that the march didnt congest traffic, some were making sure to clean any litter left by marchers and some were dancing to the beats of the drums.
In that one hour nothing else mattered, everyone was just being themselves, something that they are denied most of the time in society. It was not just a cry for help, it was a show of strength. The honorable Supreme Court of India has denied our rights, dismissing us a ‘minuscle’ portion of public. Well now the entire country could see just how ‘minuscle’ we are. We are out, we are proud and we are here to stay.

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A Mother’s plea…

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“Son… I have never asked you for anything in your life. This is the only thing I ask for. Trust me…..you will not regret this.”

She said with confidence. She had full faith in her son, that he would do the right thing. She knew him better than anyone else. She saw him struggle through his life, she saw him overcome his own failures. She herself taught him to trust in himself and believe in himself. She had full faith in him, that he would overcome this hurdle too. All that he needed was a little guidance. He was the son any mother would be proud of, and even if he was going through a dark time, she knew he would eventually find the light.

He held the phone tightly. He could feel her unwavering faith in him, he could feel the love in her voice. He could feel the warmth of her hug, he longed for nothing more than to rest in her arms. He knew he could always confide his deepest and most personal feelings to her.

And yet, he couldn’t bring himself to say what he really wanted to. He couldn’t dare to imagine the pain and hurt in her voice if he really said what he wanted to.

“ok….i will…”

He whispered into the phone. He could feel the chains rattling around him, tightening their coils as he spoke the words. He felt like reading out his own death sentence.

 

She smiled in relief. “You will not regret this. Have I ever asked you to do anything wrong? You will realise in time that this is the right decision.”

 

He smiled, she was happy….for now. He knew what would be in store for him in his future. She didn’t know it yet. And he hoped she never would have to find out. But how long could he fake it? His happiness. Maybe long enough to start believing his own lie? Could he go back in denial? Back into the closet? Maybe if he could marry a girl who could be a good friend, maybe when he had kids?

Maybe she is right? Could it be that once he married all his feelings would change? If it did….what would it mean about his feelings now? Was what he felt until now just a phase? An illusion? Did he really believe in a lie all these years, from his childhood? If it were so….then could he really ever trust his own feelings again? Could he ever believe in himself anymore?

Every fibre of his being told him it was not a phase. It is how he has always been, and it would never change. And if that is the case….what would happen then? Would he have to fake his happiness in front of her? How long could he keep up the charade? And what about their relation? Could he ever be truthful to her anymore? If he had to fake his happiness, there was no way he could share his feelings with her.

In addition to the chains he could see the bars of the cage holding him in, secluding him from his loved ones. This is what his life would be, forever…. He felt his heart sink. And realised, he would have to kill it completely to do what she asked him to do.

Taking a deep breath he let out a sigh.

“I am sorry, mom….I can’t.”

The other end was silent for a long time.

“Don’t say it son….please…don’t” she pleaded with him.

His heart broke to hear his mothers voice…..

“I’m sorry mom….but you have to trust me on this. I know you are hurting now. I could say yes just to stop you from hurting…. but I am hurting too. And what you are asking will hurt me and you both. You could be happy now thinking you have saved me. But when time will pass, you would realise my pain and I know it would pain you twice as much. You taught me to believe in myself, to trust my instincts. Now I am asking you to believe in me….trust in me, that I will find my own way to happiness. I have not forsaken you or all that you have taught me. I am merely using your guidance to forge my own path. I don’t want to fake my happiness for you. That would be an insult to you too. And I don’t want you to ever regret or feel guilty for the mistakes in my life. Let me make my own mistakes, I will atone for them. I don’t want to hide anything from you, Mom. So please don’t force me to make a decision that will force me to hide my feelings, force me to doubt myself. You taught me to be free, you of all people I expect to understand the most how I feel. So please forgive me Mom, but I can’t give you what you are asking for.”

Tears streaked his face, his heart ached to feel her hurt. But the chains were gone, and so was the cage. He told her what was in his heart. He couldn’t lie to her. And he would never lie to her.

She was silently sobbing on the other end. She knew there was nothing she could do for him, but trust that he find the right path by himself. She had tried….but it was all up to him now. She prayed that the Gods be with him.

“I trust you son. I hope you make the right choice….whichever it maybe. And I will not force you for anything ever again. And you should never have to fake your happiness dear, not for me and not for anyone. Take care and Good Night….”