Why I kept Silent?

These lips do not part at the time of distress. These lips do not voice for themselves

Why is it important to teach our children to respect the individuality or traits of a person?

A few days back, I was in Lodhi Gardens, a Delhi landmark with some of my friends. We were there for a small picnic, a reunion sort of thing. The place was beautiful. The breeze, the scent, the aura, Oh!

There were all sorts of people, groups, couples {a lot of them}, school children, joggers, etc.

Once we were there, I saw some children {probably 5 or 6 grade} fighting amongst themselves {you know typical petty things.} I wanted to be the hero of the story, so I went to stop the fight.

What do I get?

They started grinning coldly, asked me whether I was a guy or a girl.

Embarrassed to death, it brought back old memories.

In my old school days, I used to be the centre of their mockery, but I prepared myself for the circumstances {after all 4 years is a huge time to get used to.} Ever since I graduated from the place, I did not encounter all those taunts and comments {and in this period, I came to embrace it}, so naturally, I let my guards down.

Hearing that again, I was extremely shocked, my jaw was left open, my ears turned red, the back of my eyes got wet, but I kept calm, and as soon as I knew I would be vulnerable {yet again}, I put on a hard façade.

They even asked me whether I was ‘gay’ or not {and by that they actually meant whether I was a transgendered person, no offence but the likes of those, whom we encounter once in a blue moon.}

Words do hold power.

Then, I came to realize, that these pupil are unaware of the real meaning of the words they are using. How hateful and rude they are being to a certain community just for the pleasure of it all. How their interpretation of the lingo is so derogatory and demeaning. How they have never learnt in any of their textbooks to respect a person and her/his identity.

Why is that so?

Is it because, these people see me in a different light? Is it because, the dominant trait in me is that of a very feminine person? Is it because, the society has tagged me as different {not unique, weird?}

I guess that may have been the reason.

Anyways, I went on my way, while the words echoed in my ears. I tried hard to forget, but it is not the easiest way if that trait is the very spine of your body.

This made me wonder about, other peoples like me, who do not know how to be more masculine, how to get through this stage, how to face all the hateful taunts, how to ignore them, or in extreme cases how to shut them down.

Trust me friend, I am still looking for the answers.

Lady with a Beard

The headline is a conundrum! That is the very first image that any person would form of such a paradoxical clause. Whenever we talk about the term lady, we search through our mind’s rolodex and come in terms with certain unique features on the basis of which, we differentiate a woman from a man.

We reside in a world where anything is possible. Can there be a blur between these two {and I’m not talking about HERMEPHRODITE}?

Certainly there can be. And the term is DRAG {not Formula1}.

Drag is an art form of impersonating the opposite sex. Men who opt for an illusion of a woman are called Drag Queens. Similarly women who project an illusion of a man are called Drag Kings.

Stereotypically, a man is muscular, beefy and butch and all those widely accepted qualities of a masculine abode. To do a character of opposite sex i.e. a woman, they have to feminize themselves and then work to look like a stereotypical woman {though in the past there have been many deviant changes in this field}.

Though, one may seem to consider a drag queen as a transgendered/ psychological woman, but it is not the fact. Drag queens are transvestites for art purposes. Just like any typical model.

In many cases, the culture of drag is thought to be a subculture of the larger culture of homosexuality, but that’s not the case. A person, regardless of his/her sexual orientation is called a drag performer if he/she maintains a character illusion.

Let us talk about drag in Indian scenario.

In Mahabharata, when Arjuna was exiled, he impersonated a woman {or tried to}. People may see him in the light of a transgendered person. But instead when you look closely through all the loopholes and try to make sense of it, he was actually a drag artist; a character illusionist.

In the famous show, The Kapil Sharma Show, the female characters of Sunil Grover and Kiku Sharda are female. Analogy says that they both showcase the drag culture {in a derogatory way though}.

In most of the states where PRIDE is not seen as an important ritual, the possibility of being drag artists is next to negligible.

In the end what I or for that matter anybody would say is: 

IT’S NOT PERSONAL, IT’S JUST DRAG……………………………..

My Identity in Crisis

As a child, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw a guy who is feminine in his voice; his walk; his style; his ways. In a nutshell, I saw him as a budding woman. At that stage of my life, I would be so disgusted with myself that I would brush off this fact and turn away from the derogatory reflection of my own. In fact, I would make failed attempts to act like the boys of my age.

Now, fully grown up, teased and taunted along the way by the forces, I have come to embrace my pseudo-real self.

What am I? A man, a woman or whichever construct the society throws me into?

In an orthodox world, you are either a male or a female and in some special cases, a transgendered person {though, people would still question your identity and thus your existence}.

What if you do not fit into these categories? What if your identity is your existential crisis? What if you are the one who blurs the line between both the gender constructs? What if you are a man with a feminine side or vice versa?

Apart from the traditional gender identities which are ‘naturally’ binary, there are several more that might be less than a mile from you, yet remain unexplored.

There are different terms pertaining to those ‘disabled/unnatural/different’ categories such as androgynous, gender-fluid, gender queer, gender**k, two spirited, intersex, etc.

The aim of my story is to debunk and unearth precisely the label that I belong to {even if you are against labels, you inadvertently get trapped into one}.

When I think of myself as a being, I keep in mind all my physical, behavioral and psychological features. From the appearance, I am a fully functional adult human MALE body. On the contrary, when I would see my behavior and the repercussions {these repercussions would include the imitations that I faced and would continue to encounter}, I am a classy budding feminist female DIVA. When I come to the psychological side, I would like to express myself as a DIVA but also as a MALE.

In short, with all this narration, I wanted to describe myself as an amalgam of the extremes in a typical feminine and a masculine abode. 

Androgyny is the quality of having both of these characters at once. An androgynous person is one whose state of mind is essentially between that of a man and a woman. Hermaphroditic or ‘Ardhnarishwar’ is a similar term to portray the physical appearance of an androgynous person.

 Our identity is who we think we are. Similarly, our gender identity is what we think we are, and nobody other than ourselves is responsible to decode that.

SO,

Solve the puzzle and then celebrate your triumph. 

Out of Iraq: A Warzone Romance

Director: Chris McKim & Eva Orner

Duration: 81 minutes

Release Date: 16 June 2016

In the Indian subcontinent, we have freedom to fight for the human rights. When we talk about the LGBT Community, even though homosexuality is criminalized, we still have the right to fight and give opinions against the said decisions {as long as we do not indulge in the Contempt Of Court}. But when me move towards the north and make a quick stop to the Middle Eastern states such as Iraq, Iran, etc. the scenario is completely different.

In these warzones, religion and culture shuts down the possibility of any debates. Specifically, in these areas, homosexuality is not only criminalized, but also punished with death. That makes it very frightening to the gay people.

The documentary ‘Out of Iraq’ showcases the romantic starry-eyed love story of Nayyef Hrebid, an Iraqi translator and Btoo Allami, an Iraqi soldier. The movie shot over 13 year takes its root from the Iraq wars of 2004. The film is also showcases their evacuation from Iraq, a long distance relationship and the awaited reunion. This has all the elements of a classic love story. 

The main agenda of the film is to depict the budding relationship of these two men. In addition to that, the documentary focuses on the war waging back then and the asylum escapade of the lovers. It narrates the story through snippets of interviews, old photographs & videos. These visuals also feature montages of gruesome activities which is one of the heartfelt parts in the entire movie. Even in the moments of war, they found something much more important i.e. love.

The directors successfully presented an amalgam between the two extreme polar dimensions; love and war. Although the concept of love is a little monotonous, but the alliteration remains invisible, thanks to the contrasting images of the war struck area.

Through the elusive use of colors {at times, pointless} and the imagery, the movie is successful in penetrating the hard shell of the audiences leading to a thorough oozing of emotions and a teary eye.

Dream Boy: A Novel

Novel best served with creative minds and a cup of coffee.

Author: Jim Grimsley

Publication : 1999

At first, the title suggests a starry-eyed love story. A boy equivalent to Prince Charming chased after by women in wedding gowns. Despite the title connoting a same old romance, it however unravels a queer love story of two teen boys. CAUTION! One of the protagonists has a dark past and lives his wound every day.

The book can be labeled as coming-of-age, romance, suspense, young adult. But when all of these elements are mixed, surprisingly we get a fine drama.

The story is set up in country and narrates the tale of Nathan, a shy and intelligent boy. His family consists of an alcoholic and abusive father; a meek and invisible mother. Nathan develops a crush on the stereotyped boy-next-door, Roy, an athletic jock. Together they embark on a sexual and emotional relationship.

Although it has a diversity of elements, most of them have been overused over the passage of time, as a result of which, the beauty of the moment is diminished. The juxtaposition of the optimistic and the unaccepted love with a gruesome and vivid imagery of exploitation is a classic element {which has been used frequently}.

Despite all the shortcomings, the characters have been well thought off. The characterizations are such as the readers would definitely connect with them and make them come alive. e.g. Nathan, who is shy throughout the journey, shocks everyone by showing everyone his bold side at various points.

At times Nathan’s back-story is explored which is sure to well up the readers latent emotions. It guarantees to break even the hardest façade into tears.

The ending is the most emotional segment of the novel which will bewilder its audience. It is kept open so as to let the reader go through the realm of his/her own imagination. As a result, it pushes the reader into an endless suspense.

The chemistry between all the characters is to be noted. The relationship of the leads is strictly sexual at first but then they start to connect on a whole new plane. The strained relation between Nathan and his father revives the readers’ anger and frustration. The invisibility of the mother and her absent-mindedness is strung along {though at one point she tends to break out of her regular image}.

In addition the book voices the minority and represents the LGBTQ community. It also emphasize upon the fact of homosexuality still being a taboo. Hence, this book serves an extra reading between the lines assignment for the readers who muster up courage through reading.

Grimsley elucidates every single detail as he himself is experiencing the said situations. Although there is not much dialogue between the characters {which may be due to the difference between their personalities}, but he compensates the conversations by beautifully describing the silence at the moment and their thoughts.

In short, Jim Grimsley’s ‘Dream Boy: A Novel’ is an impeccable example of a story that addresses both minor and major themes. It is a beautiful example of queer literature which at its very core holds the ability to become a classic, though it also has its own modern twist.