Queer Self-Reflections - Sumsi
Duration: 00:30:03; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 43.643; Saturation: 0.141; Lightness: 0.234; Volume: 0.138; Cuts per Minute: 0.133; Words per Minute: 100.415
From my childhood I knew I was not like others and that I am not the perfect daughter that my mother was expecting. That is why whether it was in school or in the house I wanted to be the perfect daughter.
In this series of interviews or testimonies with trans and queer people, the effort of the interviewers is to find the intimate languages in which expressions of sex, sexuality and queerness take place. The interviews are deliberately taken while keeping the interviewee in shadow so that they are comfortable with sharing details of how they fell in love, how they left home or negotiated with their family, histories of violence and abuse and their sense of humour and irony. All the interviewees particularly dwell on their childhood.
I should like who they want. I should exceed in everything.
Somehow I should make them feel proud that they have had the best daughter.
And I tried that in all possible ways even in job.
So it was very very hard because my mother always like other people’s children more than me.
So when I realised that I like girls and not boys I knew it is going to be too much problem for me in future.
So I thought only I know this and not others and I thought I will be silent about this to everyone till my parents die.
And that way my mother will not be hurt and so I will be the perfect kid.
But now when I think back of all that I did for her I don’t think it was worth it because even after all that I did, I was the perfect daughter at the end of it.
I before I told them the truth about myself I could achieve that status of the perfect daughter.
After that I had to tell them the truth about myself.
And after telling them the truth within one day everything crashed.
Everything went for a toss. And then I realised that I don’t have to achieve anything for anyone.
And I feel I am in piece of mind after I told them the truth and that’s the best thing.
That was one of it.
Another thing is we always expect that family should accept and we need that reassurance from the family.
My parents once they got to know they never really encouraged or supported or said anything good.
But my aunt, my father’s sister, she is 85 years. I had gone to see her as she was not well.
Then I told her that I am lesbian and my parents are distressed due to that.
I don’t know what to do because I cannot hide this truth anymore.
And my aunt, she is 85 years, she said “is that all, and your parents are distressed because of this!! I, when I was in the school I have seen two girls together.
I have seen lesbian movies. I have met lesbian couples.
This is not new. This is not western, this has existed always”.
And my father sitting right in front of her and turning to him she asked “did you not know about this? It was happening even in our school and you have not seen? “.
My father was shocked. He just stood there listening.
From that day even my father had a little change of mind but not fully.
What I felt about this is, it was more like someone who is that old to be my grandmother, she felt that this was not wrong.
And I think that was like so reassuring for me because always I would think back and say what this is, will this be set right any day, can we do something about this.
But she stating one affirmative thing about this I think it answered all my questions in life.
I always wanted to win some prize. From my childhood I had this ambition of receiving some award, medal or certificate.
It should state that I am best, and that was in my mind from my childhood.
I played sports but awards were always with teams.
It was never like an individual award.
Recently after I came out as lesbian, there is an LGBT support group in our office and I worked for it.
They called us for a conference in US and we went there.
I did not know, in that conference, as a total surprise, senior VP of the company who is also a lesbian gives me an award for the work that I have done for the community.
It was first time in my life that I got an award for working for my community.
I have not felt happy in any other time than this because it was ‘the’ happiest moment of my life.
Yeh, Some corporate person gives you an award and says oh you have done good, you have done good for the company so you may get award from the manager or someone else.
What was special about this is that the person who was giving me an award understood who I am and it was not like they were doing just for the promotion of the company or whatever that person understood me as a person, as who I am.
That was one of the highlight moments for me. That was my happiest moment.
Coming out was the most traumatic experience for me because, even before I came out I was in a relationship for almost 5 years.
We shared a house we shared lives together for 5 years and one day when I was checking mail I came to know that she is married.
And that first of course I though it is kind of a spam or a joke.
This cannot be true of course this is absurd I thought.
We stay in one house and how can I not know.
But this person I am living with is actually married to someone else.
When that became actually the truth and that I realised it is actually a fact I did not know what to do and how to deal with that.
It was like okay everything is over now and everything is shattered now.
I had thought of many things now what do I do? How could this have happened?
This is like total betrayal and stuff like that.
But I just realised when I confronted and when I actually started fighting back and saying no this is a very important part of my life and I will not give up.
I will keep it close to me as much as possible and I will fight for it.
And I realised that it was all a forced thing a societal pressure etc etc.
That’s when I actually met a few people who told me that hey this happens all the time, you have no idea and you can actually come out of this and we will help you do it.
These people were total strangers. I didn’t know them as opposed my parents who like actually spat on my face and sent me out of the house.
These people hardly knew me.
Not even one day they knew me.
And they were like chill, nothing will happen, we will handle everything, just listen to us, and don’t be dumb blondes; we will help you out.
And this at every step that we had to take, we had them for guiding us and taking us through this entire thing.
And I think that was a very defining moment for me as a person itself because I always felt what all this charity is, humanitarian causes which people keep talking about. This is all like such a big fancy words to gain limelight and popularity.
But when this incident happened to me when I was at the receiving end I realised that actually there is something so worthwhile in this whole thing.
I realised if we had not received that support that guidance at that point today I would not be where I am now, happily living with my partner, no worries at all.
Every day I have to go to work, come back home, play with my dogs.
That’s all I have to worry about.
And that was possible only because someone else thought it was important to help me out and that’s how I actually came out of this whole gloom that I felt and I realised that my life is over.
Of course yes I did think I cannot do anything fine I will just kill myself.
What else is left in life? Even if I stayed for 5 years together I did not know anything.
I must have been such a fool. That’s what I thought.
In all this process of actually fight back with the families with the society and getting back my partner for life there were a lot of funny moments too.
One being my partner had to go back to her house and she had to stay with her family to attend something.
We went and we stayed in a different place.
We were like we will keep a close watch, we won’t go to the house and we had to somehow sneak in some way of her to contact us.
We thought how to do this. We should give something that nobody will know so that if there is any emergency she should be able to reach us.
So we actually fashioned a very nice under garment for her to wear where she could carry her phone which is totally concealed.
When I think back on those things, that when I laugh at what all happened and how it all finally turned out to be.
And finally it turned out to be amazing.
When I was in high school I first realised that why am I always finding women to be attractive and I was in a girl’s school.
When everyone was talking about talks only about boys or discussing about male film actors I never fit in.
And from then I started having crushes.
When I was 14 I realised that I really like women, whether it is on screen or off screen it is always been women.
Then in some women’s magazine I came across this word ‘homosexuality’ of homosexual mentioned.
Then I wanted to know about this so I opened pocket Oxford dictionary I saw what is homosexual.
And I was like hey this is like something that describes me.
From then on I started doing my research.
I started at age 14 and started reading up on what it is I am feeling and why am I feeling this way, trying to understand myself of course I cannot tell anything to my parents.
No siblings so figuring out everything by myself.
Initially I had much confusion.
I thought all these things are seen only in books, theories and research papers.
Some brainless people just say things uselessly may be this won’t last later.
But it continued to remain the same and at around when I was 20 years old I definitely thought ‘this is what I want in life, I cannot be with a man’.
That’s when I slowly started using the word lesbian.
Lesbian was a very difficult word for me to use.
I was very comfortable using the homosexual but not lesbian for some reason, I still don’t know why.
May be because all the context that I saw being used in was very derogatory.
Anything that I read where the word lesbian was used I hardly found anything that was positive.
Like you do an online search for lesbian half the results are porn at that point in time.
Now they have improved with the kind of results that come up.
But then half the results were nothing positive.
And I never wanted to identify myself as that.
When I told my best friend that you know what I am sure I am a lesbian and she is like don’t say that again, don’t say that word again, it is a horrible word to say, I don’t think you are that, you are just confused.
You know that kind of made it harder.
When I 20 I was sure and that’s when I started slowly using the word lesbian to myself not to anyone outside.
And even when I actually into a relationship found a partner I still didn’t use the word lesbian, for may be two year after I was into the relationship is when I started saying the word lesbian out loud to myself.
And now when I think back about it I think well it is just a word it just describes who I am and now I am more than proud to say that word.
In fact when someone asks me so are you gay, I say no I am lesbian, please use the right term.
That was my beginning at 20 and now I am very comfortable being identified as a lesbian but I am not comfortable being identified as a butch or a femme.
I still don’t understand those terms.
I don’t know when people ask me are butch are an FtoM are a femme.
I don’t understand how I will fit into those because at different points in time in my life I feel like I fit into all of it.
Sometimes I am butch sometimes I have idiosyncrasies like an FtoM sometimes I am very very femme.
I hate it when people ask me to define my gender or say which bracket would you fall in?
But I do identify myself as a woman,
lesbian and that’s where it ends for me.
I don’t want to go further into it and say I fall into this or this.
I would say I practically fall into everything that would describe a lesbian.
No brackets because at different points in time I feel I fall into different things so.
There is no one concrete thing that I could a part of.
It keeps changing with circumstance or with people or with situation.
It always keeps changing.
I cannot say that yes today I am femme, tomorrow I am FtoM, day after tomorrow I am butch.
I cannot state like this.
How can I definitely say this.
It is very constricting to use those terms.
And yes I have short hair, so I am automatically either butch or Ftom.
Okay you know some of the things that you do you don’t identify as a ‘he’.
You identify as a she so you cannot be an FtoM so you become a butch.
To break down like this it doesn’t make sense to me because I might be all three or just one or just two at different points in time.
So that’s why I wouldn’t want to fall into one of these brackets.
By the time I finished my degree I was very sure that I cannot live at home.
It is getting uncomfortable by the day and I somehow wanted to get out of the house. Be myself at least in my own space.
Then I knew that I could move out of my home town for education.
That was the excuse I chose to move out of my house.
When I left there and came here I realised how much of freedom I have.
It was awesome. And I thought if I stayed here I could happily live with my partner.
Nobody would question us because both of us have left our places and come here.
Two girls are sharing a room they are good friends, that’s the perception everyone will have so it will not bring up any questions or raise any eyebrows.
And we still have a lot of time for the marriage card to be thrown at our face.
So we thought let us give this a shot.
This was the idea that I got may be one year after I moved out of my home town.
That’s when I realised I want to stay here. I want to be here, this place actually gives me the freedom to be who I am.
Of course I felt sad that if I were in Bangalore I could get very good Masala Dosa, here we don’t get good food or just places that you visited as a kid or some places where you had to shop which was just the perfect shop for you whatever.
Small things but when you miss them they matter a lot.
But today when I look back I don’t like to go back.
I like the place where I am. I want to be here. I am very comfortable. I have made my life here and I really like this and now when I think back on my home town only things like how I was treated, what all I had to go through, it just brings back bad memories.
I don’t want to go back because all the happiness that I have experienced in the childhood was negated by the bad experiences that I felt after I came out.
So I know it was not the city but still I associate a lot of negative experiences with city and I would never want to go back.
That has also made me realise that I don’t want people to keep feeling this like if a kid wants to come out and be themselves it shouldn’t be at the cost of losing their hometown.
Moving away from your home town for education or work you know doing it as a conscious thing it is okay.
Looking back at your home town and feeling disgruntled about it or disgusted about it that is not okay.
So I really don’t want kids coming out and feeling this way about their home town or their parents.
Since I didn’t have a good coming out story it affected me a lot to the extent that I decided to myself that I will make my parents understand that what I am is not wrong.
I will make them see this whole thing by showing them that there are many many people out there and I will help as many people as possible to come out and live a truthful life.
I also realised that the help that I got when I came out is something that I would want to give to as many people as I could because I know how much value that has for me.
So all these are things that I would definitely want to do for the community and I feel very very passionate about.
Of course I want my rights I want everyone who is from the LGBTQI community to have their rights or any minority to have their rights.
So it is not just about the LGBT minority any more but for me now it is about any minority and I just want to stop any kind of discrimination and if that means rallying against the government and lobbying for the minorities I am all up for it.
That is something that I realised I am very passionate about and that is what keeps me going every day.
When I wake up I think what can I do differently and what did I do differently yesterday.
It could be as insignificant as a face book post which thwarts homophobia.
So it could be as insignificant as that but I would want to do something that will be more valuable for the community.