Story by Manas Anand
Life hasn’t been the most grateful to me in a lot of ways. Like most Queer kids, I did not have a calk walk worth childhood, though my parents showered all their love and affection. Being an effeminate, bubbly, spontaneous child, draping my mother’s dupattas and her jewellery always fascinated me. As carefree as I was, I did enjoy what I desired. Though this didn’t really come that easy to me, as I was bullied at a young age.
Everyone in my paternal family started calling me names like ‘Aurat’ and ‘Janani’. This never really made any sense to a seven-year-old kid.
Out of sheer love, admiration and the ecstatic pleasure, seeing myself in jewels gave me, I never let loose this feminine identity.
Soon, when puberty hit and testosterone rushes started bursting inside a fourteen-year-old, I realised that I’m romantically and sexually into men. This never really shocked me, as I had always accepted myself. School life turned into misery as my identity was contained to be someone who’s gay and how I was a misfit because I made no 'guy' friends and never participated in sports.
Things started taking a shift as I explored the world of dating applications. That's when I became sexually active, seeking validation for who I was from people who identified the same way. Initially, this new Queer world seemed safe, but this blindfold didn’t last long.
This new world, soon, started haunting me as it brought with itself great insecurities and severe self-image issues. Surviving in a niche where most people are just like you, it becomes even more difficult to establish your unique identity. And while I got busy establishing this newfound identity, I lost my bubbly, spontaneous identity.
Stepping out of school gave me the confidence to outshine the bullies and accept the world's functioning. That's when I started coming out to people around me.
Soon, I realized that my queer identity wasn’t something I wanted to give labels to. Masculinity or Femininity wasn’t an option, as I started feeling how fluid I was in terms of my identity. I started exploring my queerness when I first wore a nose-ring, since then, I’ve worn nose-pieces, anklets and bracelets, as small symbolisms to my queer identity.
During the lockdown, there were days when I draped a saree, because it made me feel liberated. The subtle dynamic of my gender identity makes it special. Some days I like to explore the masculinity it offers and on others, I don't feel like making a statement about my fluidity from my outfit and that’s something confinements and boundaries can’t offer. And it was then I realised that I am a genderqueer person and its the fluidity of my identity that makes it unique, adding a quintessential charm to it.
In a world where cis men aren’t accepted, identifying as a gender-fluid individual wasn’t very convincing.
Every time I step out, I’m conscious about how I present myself, it’s as if I’m making a statement regarding my identity to the world. There are days when you're misgendered and you need to let go of that feeling because you just can't explain the same logic each day.
Being looked and frowned upon becomes habitual but it is still traumatic. The mental toll it takes on me, is constant nowadays. Sometimes it's very taxing to let go off things because people around aren’t capable enough to understand. But then all I think of is, if I weren’t fluid, I won't be my true self and that's unjust to my queer identity. And with this thought, whenever I meet someone, I say, “I’m Manas Anand, I identify as Queer and my pronouns are he/they!”