Imprints from Formative Years:
Growing up I was a very eclectic and enthusiastic kid. My parents always wanted me to be good at whatever I did, so I would put my heart and soul into every competition. However, during my teenage years, I was often muddled with the thought of not being good enough. I was heavily bullied, mocked at, and my confidence was shattered. But academics were my strength, that’s where I felt very confident. Doing well in exams or school competitions was my way to over-compensate for the bullying.
My attitude towards my career specifically changed when I won Mr. Gay India, and I met Sushant or Rani Ko-He-Noor as we very popularly know her today. Sushant believes he can achieve anything that he wishes, and he seeded that thought into all his mentees. I started pushing myself even more, with a lot more belief that I can achieve anything in life with determination, hard work, focus and commitment. I genuinely believe that every human being is talented in some way or the other. It’s often the belief in our potential that matters. Belief can get us started, and then it’s all about the commitments that keep us going.
Embracing the Warrior Within:
Every cussword that you can think of was thrown at me, and that’s the reality of every femme queer person in this country. Every uncomfortable question that you can think of, starting from what’s between my legs, to why I speak like a girl, to when I chose to be gay, was randomly dropped on me, and I loathed answering these questions. It would remind me of the time I wanted to kill myself because of my femme demeanor.
At the lowest point of my life, I’m grateful my 17-year-old self-chose to live. I wanted greater things from life. I’m a dreamer, and I’ve always been filled with larger-than-life aspirations. They say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and that’s my story. No matter what storm brews in my life, I can wake the very next morning, shut the world outside and move on with my head held high.
Importance of Diversity & Inclusion:
Opportunities and representation in mainstream media for many of us is still a far-cry. A handful of us doing well and getting mainstream representation is a good start, but that’s simply not enough, especially in 2021. I believe we deserve the entire platter- non-discriminatory policies, same-sex partnership rights, marriage equality, adoption rights, equitable wages, and a way better representation that is stronger, dignified and empowering. No more bumbling buffoons, or sex maniacs, or caricatures. We’re living breathing equal beings and we need to be treated and represented like one.
Aspiring a Society Free of Labels:
Education and awareness is the need of the hour. Moreover, social and judicial reforms need to go hand in hand. Start with teaching your kids about the gender spectrum, make everyone aware of the trials and tribulations of every marginalized community there is. Let people acknowledge that some of us do have it easier; this will encourage them to be stronger allies, and create spaces for the marginalized. I believe in the vision of a label-less world, but we’re quite far away from that.
Most Impactful Lessons from my Mentors:
“We all hold such infinite potential within the fortress of our minds, dare to tap into your greatness, it is your birth right”. I read this in Robin Sharma’s ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’; I live by this quote every day. The importance of community and supporting each other to create opportunities and representation for all of us is what I’ve learned from my mentors. We’re uplifted only when each one of us in the community is uplifted. And of course, the idea of belief, resilience, focus, hard work, self-love and commitment, they’re all indispensable.