Author: Pranay from Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Growing up was definitely not the best feeling in the world. I know every queer feels they were different as a child, and I am no exception, but for me much before my sexuality, came my quirkiness. I was the dork, aloof, peculiar, fatuous one, who always had and wanted to have a different opinion and logic about stuff.
I found myself as socially inept, so much so that I was apprehensive of going to new places and meeting new people as they would judge me for my mannerisms and short height. I was scared of non-queer guys (for they would tease me) and queer guys (for they would realise I am one of them)
A typical middle class Bengali family in a homophobic neighbourhood and chauvinistic relatives was pretty much my life. Even talking about LGBT issues is a taboo & would raise a few eyebrows to them. It kills me every time to think of the ignorance they have, the hatred they must feel for my community.
Being forced to play either cricket or football, getting ridiculed by our sports sir and friends for playing with girls or for being short, feeling shy of going to the toilets with my male classmates, my mom getting complained by class teacher in PTA meet that I don’t hang around with guys enough – these were common occurrences for me.
As a child, a very effeminate guy used to live in my neighbour. I knew probably that’s my future, but fearing the immense condescending behaviour that was in store for me, I forcefully used to laugh at him when my friends made fun of him and used to regret it after reaching home. Nonetheless, there wasn’t any refuge for me, since I was on the receiving end a couple of years later, which makes me question how many guys are actually laughing at me every time I get mocked? Maybe someone there is just forcibly laughing due to peer pressure as I was a few years earlier.
As a pre-teen, loving a man was pretty much normal to me. I thought people like me exist, just not in abundance. But I didn’t want to reveal myself because of the stigma attached to it. I was fantasising about the “hero” after reading a story or watching a film; I always got excited to find a new boy in my class; at the same time I went weak in my knees for older men. As I aged, homophobic slurs, mockery, gay bashing came my way though I never felt cursed to be a queer. Post teen, pornography, music, movies, reality shows nurtured my ideas and peeked an insight into the life, behaviour and mannerisms of people of varied sexualities.
It was the summer night of 25th June 2010 when I told one of my school friends the unspoken secret about me (exactly a year after Michael Jackson died, probably because I wanted that day to be a happy day, something to overshadow MJ’s death). I was petrified, asked her not to tell it to anyone. Ironically, a month later, I told almost all my friends about it, though almost everyone seemed to be receptive of that and acted maturely. Gradually I found my male friends drifting away. Some didn’t want to talk about it anymore, a few laughed behind my back and others plain ignored it. Some even hoped one day I would turn straight, which just made it all together awful, but I never was more relieved, ecstatic and happy, because I was finally coming to terms to myself.
Often I am asked, “When did you find out that you were a queer?” I just can’t think of an answer because there wasn’t any defining moment in my life like an apple dropped, or a bell rang and I realised, “Oh! I am queer!” There wasn’t any! Just like a straight guy knows that he is straight, I always knew I am bisexual.
I have spent two decades of my life in knowing myself. Being queer has helped me to know myself and the unparallelled aspect is that every queer in the world go through self-identification while in the process of knowing their sexuality, which in itself is the most priceless reward any human of any sexual orientation can ask for.