The Journey to Understanding the Unknown
Story by Mus
In a country like India, where it isn’t even safe to be a woman, acceptance of someone who is non-binary can feel like a distant dream. I come from a dysfunctional family where I grew up watching my mom and dad fighting all the time over my dad’s alcohol problem. In a society that caters mainly to cishets (cisgendered heterosexuals) and amongst the strife at home, I had little time and knowledge to look inward and explore why I felt so different from others and didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.
I grew up in a world where the internet was still not as accessible or prevalent as it is now. So, I had to rely on people around me for information. No one told the 12-year-old me that there is more to gender than male or female. That it is okay to be attracted to the same gender as me. Growing up in such isolation from any role models from the LGBTQ+ community simply made me think something was wrong with me. For me, I wasn’t “normal”.
In a society where all you have to rely on is cishet representation to understand yourself, it made it extremely difficult for me to understand that gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things. I never learned the concept that sexuality can be as fluid or rigid as I'd like it to be. I didn’t know that there was an option to be something other than the sex assigned to me at birth.
I began exploring my sexuality via meeting people on dating apps. I connected with different people and began understanding the new world that had opened up for me. The confusion and angst I felt as a child slowly started making sense. After much reading, I came to the conclusion that I was non-binary, a term I did not know before.
After a lot of unlearning and shedding the internalized queerphobia, I came to accept who I was. I realized that I didn’t need to conform to gender binaries. I grasped that gender is created by people and not something you're born with.
One of my first acts of rebellion against the patriarchy was when I dressed up in a beautiful Anarkali, put on some eyeliner and jewelry, and flaunted my feminine persona at my first Pride Parade. It was liberating and I never thought I looked more beautiful.
When I first came out as non-binary, it made me so happy. I could finally live my truth; at least in places, I considered safe. To me, being non-binary was not conforming to male or female as sometimes I'm one and other times, the other. But sometimes both together and at times neither of those!
When I told my friends, they were extremely supportive and accepted me for who I was. They also make a conscious effort to use my right pronouns (i.e. they/them). I also met many people from the community and made a few non-binary friends who were a great help in understanding myself and could relate to many of the things I’d go through.
I am still not out to my family and I don’t know when I’ll be ready to tell them. I know they wouldn’t understand or accept it and that saddens me. But I understand how they belong to a different generation and it would take a long time for them to be okay with something like this. I'm still hopeful and wish to see a society where everyone can be accepted regardless of their gender or sexuality.