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  • Trisha Bhattacharya

Int:HerView-5: Our Pride Justified

Updated: Jul 1

Its the pride month nearing end, but the pride in living with dignity shouldn't end there, it extends to everyone who has come out, accepted themselves, struggling to do so, fighting everyday injustices, conquering, surviving, simply living life. We are unaware of a lot of things about them, we often might not understand if our words or actions hurt someone, we might be doing it unconsciously a lot of times. Today, I am not here to ask questions but to unleash some truths, anecdotes and confessions about the LGBTQ+ community through the eyes of someone whose identity is quite dynamic and evolving with the hope to better their own community. Let's get started on that real quick!

"Hi, I am Neon, I identify as genderfluid. Earlier when I had come out for the first time, I had a knowledge about the LGBTQ terms but I was confused about where I would fit in the spectrum and what I would identify as because knowing what the terms were wasn't just enough. I use all pronouns- he/she/they/etc. and I prefer it when people use them interchangeably. I want to start by saying that gender is a social construct. It’s not about what genitals you have since birth, but how you feel on the inside and mentally. Somedays I feel feminine or fuel up in masculine energy, other days I might feel non-binary. It is complex and to society, it is like being confused about my gender. But that’s how I flexible I can be."



HOME SWEET HOME?

At home- the conditions are a little different than when I had first come out. Earlier it was a lot more violent/abusive, but now to think of it, they haven't really hit me lately but everything I do is a problem. I did an Instagram live speaking about my journey with my identity and my mom accidently saw it and threatened me to throw out of home if I keep doing it.

I started my jeweler business to fund my college education. It is inclined towards gothic style. Usually people might think a business led by someone from the community will be a very colorful one- all rainbows but it's about what an individual likes, my community needn’t necessarily determine my liking (although we are in the community based on our liking, HAHA), it’s what my style is. My jewelries target the goth part of the community.


HOW DID I COME OUT?

That's some story. I have always felt unsafe around certain people, have kept quite about my identity. I had been thinking a lot, maybe too much, I was basically all over the place and then on new year’s I just posted about my identity online and shut my phone. My friends were surprised but also they were welcoming.


MYTHS/ASSUMPTIONS/ PREJUDICES: A BURDEN FOR US

There are a lot of doubts that need to be cleared about us, assumptions that cis-het people just need to let go of us. It feels as if we are alien to them.

1. We are not any trend. We always existed. We are normal human beings. Yes, in the recent times, we have been quite vocal about our identities and rights. The spectrum to fit in all kinds of identity has just broadened over the years as more people have come out.


2. I'd say there's the assumption that if I'm dating a man, I'm straight and if I'm dating a woman I'm gay. Also, the assumption that I would just date anybody or about how I am just doing it for attention since nobody can like everybody is so ridiculous.

3. There are only two genders so I can't feel like both since my genitals are one. Hell no!!!


4. The fact that being intersex is the same as being trans, they're both part of the community but they're both hella different.


5. What people need to understand is that someone coming out to you is a big thing, they have trust in you, don't say anything inappropriate just to sound cool. When I told one of my friends who is a girl about my identity, she went like “don’t look at me now and sing a song because I will feel uncomfortable.”

Another incident, where in a group, there was one girl sitting next to me and some people, not me, I swear, were talking about her butt (yeah that’s weird, women objectification is a topic for some other day). Yeah, so later she went around telling I made her feel uncomfortable. One more- in college I frisked a girl, prolly she had stolen something from me, she went to the principal only to tell I touched her inappropriately. Things like these always keep happening and its so cruel, I mean if I am interested in you, only then I will hit on you, you don't have to put up a disclaimer of "Don't hit on me." Some have come up to me asking if I would be interested in a three-some, like what? (myth-bisexuals want to have threesome (I ain’t bi but I know it’s completely false)), If I am dating, I am invested in my partner enough and what made you think I would be interested to cheat on my relationship with you. This doesn't happen to cis people, its such bullshit.


6. It's not a choice. Being attracted to someone isn't a choice but if someone is just romantically attracted to women and sexually attracted to men they can choose how they'd want to identify as nobody can really force anybody to identify as something because they are part of the community.

Attraction isn't only sexual and as long as you're not cis or het, in every single way, you're part of the community. You can be asexual/heterosexual/cis-bi/etc.

There are even people who are romantically attracted to the opposite gender but don't feel sexual attraction at all or the complete opposite. They all fit in somewhere or the other.

7. There are some parents of my friends who are okay with me but wont be okay if their child is not straight. Sighs.


8. I don't need to reproduce, I don't want to. I can adopt. These cis people leave their kids at orphan homes, I will adopt them, maybe I might give a better life to them than their actual parents, who knows?


9. Homophobia has come from the west. Homosexuality was hella normal in the old days. If you look at the stories/mythologies and everything, you'll find so much of it. Forms of non-divine figures shown in sculptures at several temples especially in the south exist. There have also been trans, bisexual gods, non binary gods and gods who were intersex. There is so much LGBT representation in the entire Hindu mythology it shows that it has always existed. Of course in those times it wasn't a big deal but ever since we were colonized a lot changed including the rise of homophobia.


INDIFFERENCE IN TREATMENT: THE LENGTHS PEOPLE GO TO

I get it cis people are scared of the people from community and I can still sympathize with their consideration of homosexuality as a foreign concept, discrimination based on homophobia and family stigma but I get it only till a certain level. Beyond that, whatever torture we face is incomprehensible. Mean comments, getting bullied, hated upon, killed, jailed, lynched, hanged, I mean, not at all okay to go through these just for feeling the way we do.

APPROACHING SOMEONE FROM THE COMMUNITY WHO YOU DONT KNOW

It is always polite to ask people their pronouns if you don't know them, don't just start off with a wrong pronoun. If you are genuinely wrong, you can be corrected but if you are wrong on purpose, that's belittling the other person. Just talk normally with them like you would talk with your cis friends. If you have a question just ask it with the right intentions, not a big deal there. Oh, also if you are confused, simply don’t ask them if they are trans or not. If someone comes out to you, match the same energy as theirs and just be glad that they did so. Be nice to everyone, its not that hard.


PRIDE PARADES

I had no clue what happens there when I was about to attend it for the first time. However, I went for it with one of my friends and I can vouch for that being one of the best days in my life. There were so many people like me. They were all so welcoming, talking with me and hugging me like they have known me forever. There were people standing with signs for brotherly/sisterly/motherly hugs. Every time I go hug them, I am filled with emotions and I start to cry. It is a great opportunity to have good conversations, know about others and yourself and make new friends. Everybody is welcome to join us.



HOW MUCH HAVE THESE PARADES ACHIEVED SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE OF THE COMMUNITY? HAVE THEY?

Yes but also no. When so many of us are on the streets for the parade, there are a lot of people who look at us trying to understand what is happening. The police who have discriminated against us are also the same people safeguarding/handling our parade. People don’t interfere in it because we are not some violent, angry community trying to propagate an agenda or trying to force our identities/ sexuality/ interests upon anyone. It is a peaceful, fun-filled event and everyone is happy, doing our own thing, no one can disapprove of that. The world should be like this. Parades, social media conversations, etc. do change something in people, have some impact and we as a generation are surely much more inclusive. I remember one uncle coming up to me during the parade and asking if all that we were doing was correct. I said, there is nothing wrong in this, this is not a show-off, we are who we are and we are celebrating ourselves, having fun, we can't change our identity or ourselves. I think I may have changed something in him.




Some moments from my first pride!🌈

OTHER PROBLEMS THAT LGBTQ+ FACES APART FROM INJUSTICES

Apart from fighting for rights, gathering courage for self-acceptance, there are other struggles that we go through.

1. Our number- By this I mean the number of cis people around us is more than the number of people who have come out and is a part of the community. We are bullied, suppose a 2:5 ratio, we cant fight them, we get harassed. I had a friend who died from bullying. He was thrown into dumpsters, often would come home bleeding and his parents were just as bad. I couldn’t be of much help and it was a horror watching him like that.


2. Not all people within the community are helpful- There are bad people everywhere. Once, I had asked for help to the people I met at the parades, talked with everyday. I really needed support, my life was in danger. The people from the community didn’t reply for days, didn’t see my messages, some left me on seen. These are the same people who met me at pride and told me countless times that if I ever needed help I could count on them. We already struggle and only if we unite within the community, we will reach our goals faster.


3. Toxicity needs to be removed from the community- Do you think being an LGBTQ influencer is so big that you forget your own community people? Down the line it turns into something for fame and recognition by being vocal. Also, when being a part of the community got normalized, it turned into some trend where people just came out to look cool, they pretended to be a part of the community which made it difficult for people who were actually part of the community. They weren’t ready to experiment with their identity and that is homophobic. It was also annoying because being a part isn't for getting labelled as cool, we struggle, it is not easy and definitely not a joke/ cool factor/ some brand promotion for a company. It's not a personality trait, its what we feel. Don’t be misinformed.


TO,

SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO COME OUT,

It’s not important to come out, you don't have to go around telling people/ be loud/ show or justify your identity to every(any)one. Just be yourself, feel comfortable in your own skin. People don't care whether you come out or not. Some people from the community are like- why are you closeting yourself? It doesn’t matter, your identity should not be anyone’s business. If you are dominant about your sexuality/like to express yourself with colors, do that as long as you know who you are.


TO,

CIS-HETS,

Be an ally, we need your support too. Not being a part of the socially-accepted binary gender is not a phase, be proud of people coming out to you. Don’t bother yourself into being nosy about matters of someone’s identity. Educate yourself and be patient and kind.

"Pride is the only month we have smiles on our faces. The rest of the year goes into mostly hiding our identities from families and friends. Like with my family, whenever I had to go to a pride parade, I used to tell at home I am going to some festival and then once I am outside home, I used to make all these cute rainbows on my face, put make up, dress up and then again while returning I had to wipe it all off but the part in between- those moments at pride were so amazing that it was all worth it. My family hasn’t been pleasant till day and I don’t expect it to be ever. They talk behind my back. Maybe if families were accepting, it would have been different for us. Maybe I would have loved my family so much more, been mentally healthier, been myself more and not hidden. I wouldn’t have to leave the house to be myself, to feel like myself."



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