How Not To Be an Ass****

How Not To Be an Ass****
We had been really good friends for years. This one day, out of the blue, he calls, “Can we go out for lunch? I need to tell you something.” I replied without any thought, “Yes.” He looked visibly nervous that day. What followed was at least twenty minutes of random talk. When I finally lost my mind owing to the curiosity, I came forward from my seat with a clenched fist, and demanded, “Dude, will you tell me what’s the matter?”

 

He took a pause and said, “I need to tell you something. Please hear me out and promise that this won’t affect our friendship.” This could mean a thousand things or nothing at all. I said, “Nothing will affect our friendship, I promise. Tell me.”  And he said those three words.

 

“I am gay.”

 

I heard those three words, took a second of pause and said, “Okay…Great…(pause, smile)…But.. why would you think this would affect our friendship?”

 

A smile broke out on his face and the nervousness instantly vanished.

 

“What? What did you expect me to say to you when you’d say you are gay? Something like ‘dur ho jao meri nazron se’?
(Laughter)
“Yaar. I just didn’t want to lose you.”
“When did you first come to know?”
“It’s been around 1.5 years. I soooooooo wanted to tell you but could not.”
It felt like a dagger in my chest. Had I not been a good friend? Why did he have to hide it from me? I must have made him uncomfortable in some way.

 

“Did I ever make you feel that I would be disapproving of this?”
“You have been one of the nicest friends. And I have wanted to tell you all this while because you’d be such a support! But I remember this day we went to Zen and you had casually joked about someone around, “I think he’s gay.” It’s silly, I know. It was casual and not even shaming but I didn’t want to lose you for this.”
“Oh. When was this?”
“Around two years back. This was the time I was starting to face my sexuality.”

 

My head almost touched the ground. My hands on my face. I was ashamed of myself. I couldn’t believe that such a “small” thing could have such a big impact on someone. Just for that, my friend had gone through the struggle of dealing with this without me by his side.

 

It’s been years since this incident. Since then, I’ve had so many friends coming out to me. I’ve consciously resisted making even casual remarks about sensitive things. It still happens, but I try. And I’ve tried my best to be the most supportive, not freak out, not gossip or spread rumours. Coming out, sounds like a weird word, to begin with. Why does someone even have to come out? That’s something only the person who has had to suppress their sexuality will understand. For heterosexuals, it would help to imagine, what would it feel like to be told that what they are feeling for the opposite sex is unnatural?

 

We make very quick judgements about gender and sexuality. If a guy is a little effeminate, we label them as ‘gay’ (as if being gay is a bad thing). While they might really just be effeminate and not gay. If a girl appears to be a tomboy, we label them as ‘lesbians’. While they might really just be a tomboy. And what if they were even gays or lesbians. Anyone that is a part of nature, with consent, is natural.

 

Most people also confuse gender with sexual orientation. Gender is Male, Female. Sexual Orientation is Heterosexual, Homosexual, Asexual, etc. Facebook has introduced an option to select from 63 genders. It’s understood that this is quite confusing. But we live in a world that’s increasingly becoming complex because we are not ready to accept the people coming out. There are people who are GenderFluid: A gender fluid individual does not see themselves as male or female but may identify as one or the other depending on the day. There are people who are gender non-conforming: Gender Non-conforming is a person who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society. This identity goes along with a lot of the ones above. Learn More here.
 

How To React When Someone Comes Out to You

 

  1. Acknowledge: In a world that we live in, it is actually a big deal if someone comes out to you, especially if you not homosexual. There are a hundred fears attached to saying those three words, and when someone does that, the least you can do it, take a pause and acknowledge. Keep it a secret if they want to.
  2. Do Not Joke: It’s not funny. If you don’t understand how it feels, do not speak but try and not crack ugly jokes.
  3. Resist the Questions: You have heard different things and you have all sort of fantasies about homosexuality (how to you really have sex, how to get attracted, etc) but resist asking all sorts of questions right then.
  4. What to say: To begin with, say that you love them. Say that it doesn’t matter who they want to sleep with and it will not affect your love for them. The nicest thing to say is, “I’m glad you shared this with me. I just want you to know that I love you. And this doesn’t affect our friendship.”
  5. Do not Freak Out: When you freak out, you ask mean questions like, “Omg, what will you do now?” Would you say that to someone who’d say, “I am passionate about Math”? You won’t. It’s that simple. Nothing is to be done about it. The person is just sharing it with you.
  6. Do not be Awkward: There’s nothing awkward if the person if of the same sex as yours. They could be a friend/brother or sister. But you don’t need to creep out. Don’t think that they “like you that way” just because they are homosexual or queer. Just like every heterosexual person doesn’t like you! Do not run away from them.

The list is unlimited. It’s a sign of a really good person if someone comes out to you. It means that you made someone feel that comfortable that they could tell you such an intimate detail about their life. Yes, sexual orientation and gender are complex matters. But just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it is wrong. You don’t know how to fly a spaceship, do you? So, do not be an ass****.
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Thy Childhood Was Funnier Than Thou

Thy Childhood Was Funnier Than Thou
We had already gotten a passive, aggressive wordless warning from Uncle; when he knocked into the room to check if everything was okay. We had our exams the next day and after two hours of play and endless chatter, when we finally sat to study, we were laughing about something like maniacs, curiously affected by some laughing gas in the room. Our laughter used to be very loud. I don’t remember what were we laughing about. Next, Pooja (my best friend) gets called downstairs for something and I see her walking towards the door. Some cartoon-like impulse, makes me get up and fake a kick at her. I wasn’t even thinking. Turns out, she wasn’t either. She pulls my raised leg in self-defense and in the next second, I fall flat on my back. “Dhaaaaaaaaaaad.”

 
Continue reading “Thy Childhood Was Funnier Than Thou”

Love in Awkward Times: 2

“This man is a gem of a person. Imagine, he’s fifty and look at how he runs every day, greets everyone with his charm and throws his generous smile for everyone who can catch.”
“Ya. He’s nice. But do you know he’s a divorcee?”

 

It was not false. He was actually a divorcee but people made it sound as if that meant vampire. He had gotten himself into a fixed routine in order to avoid facing all the null and the void. He would begin his morning with a long walk at a park nearby. He was known for his greetings. He would greet everyone good morning- old, young, kids, aunties, their husbands, everyone. Small talk was no material to him. Why give yourself false hope? He would rather send across a tax-free smile. And it would work wonders for everyone.

Continue reading “Love in Awkward Times: 2”

Love in Awkward Times

He had known her since childhood. Their homes were quite near to each other since years. Now, they worked at the same place. He was 27. She was 26. Both of them were among the most good looking singles in their community. Now it had been months since she was trying to express her feelings to him since so many months. But he’d never ever pay attention.
As children, they had been very good friends. They would go to school together. Their school was a thirty-minute walk from home. As he was a neighbour and a year older, her parents had assigned him the responsibility of accompanying her. While returning back from school, she would wait at the school gate for him while he played with his friends. At times, even for an hour. By that time, she would pluck some flowers from the garden, pick up some stones from the road and make a small rangoli. It was a great pass time and she’d forget all the anger for him in her heart. When he’d be back, he would look at the piece of art and appreciate her with a smile. They would walk together to come home. It was a long route and they would talk all the way. There was so much to talk about!
As they grew up, an awkward distance grew. They had a strong sense of affection for each other but there was no scope for words in their society. Girls and boys grew up to be partitioned by a moral sense. But she never quit. She secretly nurtured her love for him. When they began working at the same place, she soon began giving hints. He would act like he had no idea what she meant. His childlike innocence was at times very attractive and extremely irritating at the other times. Even now, after so many years, he was making her wait.

Continue reading “Love in Awkward Times”

Marriage Arranged

Two neatly dressed but visibly nervous people sitting in a cafe. The guy is firing one question after another and the girl is trying to be calm and answer one at a time like,

“Oh. To be honest, I am a sleeping beauty and I love sleeping. Actually, I work out once in a while when I think I am growing fat. Otherwise, I like to sleep. I love sleeping.”
Guy: “What kind of movies do you like?”
Girl: “Actually, I  love sleeping more than movies..”
Guy: “Have you ever been in a relationship?”
Girl: “Umm.. to be honest..yes.”
Guy: “Oh. May I know why did you guys break up?”
Girl: “As I had said before, I like honesty. And I found out that he was cheating on me. So I broke up with him.”
FAST FORWARD
Guy: “Do you have an Aadhar card.”
Girl: “No, I don’t have an Aadhar card.”
Guy: “May I know why?”
Girl: “No, no. I have no problem with the concept of Aadhar. I don’t even know what is all the fuss about. Banana baki hai. I am planning next week.”
Guy: “Achha..And do you have Jio?”
Girl: “Yes, I have a Jio number but not the dongle.”
Guy: “May I know why?”
Girl: “As I had said, I don’t need the internet as much while I am travelling. And I love sleeping..so..”
 
To be continued…
Few months of late night Q&A sessions and One Year Later, selfie on FB with the caption:
“No1 knows me more dan u. No1 loves me more dan u. Five Month Anniversary with d luv of mah lyf”

Why Parents Don’t Let Their Daughters Travel

Why Parents Don’t Let Their Daughters Travel

In 2015-16, I travelled once a month for an entire year. To begin with, it was just a carefree vow. But it took a great amount of effort, from all fronts, while executing it. There are some things you learn only through travel. You get to see a lot of beauty, learn so much about new cultures, make friends for life and you learn to co-exist. Most importantly, when you outside the safety net of your parents, you have a chance to be more responsible and take your own decisions. Budget travelling on your own money- is that beautiful feeling that is essential in growing up and making of a confident personality.

In our society, travelling can be a comment on a girl’s character. It extends to our homes too. What you say no to, says a lot. For a lot of my friends, it is unthinkable to even propose to their parents to let them travel with friends, forget solo trips. You either think that your daughter is not mature enough to handle herself or you don’t trust her enough. And it adds up to your daughter’s low self-esteem. Wanting your daughter’s safety is not your fault. The world is becoming an ugly place, yes. But if you think your daughter is not fit/mature/strong/smart enough to make these decisions, it is not really her fault either. It is perhaps you who failed to make her strong, smart or confident enough.

Serial Entrepreneur and Founder of Freecharge, Kunal Shah wrote something about the prevalence of arranged marriages in India, which strangely holds true for travelling too:

Prevalence of arranged marriages in India can mean one of the two things for parents:

1. Not trust the judgement of kids if they choose someone and have “love marriage”. But then why not train them all of young life to take good decisions?

2. Not like kids to have the power to choose for themselves and stay obedient or kids are incompetent to find someone?

Some of us love to have birds at our homes. They are colourful, look beautiful in the cage and keep your house lively. You feed them on time and give them love. It is said that birds once caged for a long time, can’t survive outside the cage for too long. That’s true too. And then we like to believe that we are keeping the bird safe by not setting them free. Most of it is same for the daughters too. They should be freed before it is too late.

Is It Okay To Feel This Way?

In a revealing essay by Abigail Matson Phippard called ‘Staring at the Ceiling’ from the book ‘I Call Myself a Feminist’, she talks about her experience of working with victims of sexual violence and how she linked them back to the violence of her past. She shares about how heartbreaking it would be for her to listen to some atrocious stories. What she interestingly points out is that it was a common thing in women to be confused about violence. Abigail says,

I didn’t always want to do it everytime he wanted it. I found it difficult to tell him because he would get angry and upset and take it on his ego. Instead, I would just lie there, stare at the ceiling, I would disengage, offering myself as a hole for them to use.

Image Via Wikipedia: How to Say No To Sex: http://www.wikihow.com/Say-No-to-Sex

Women often wonder if it is okay to say ‘no’ when in bed with their partners. This confusion comes from the fact that we are never empowered to make sexual decisions. Whether it is seeking love or giving, we are to be the ones who are ‘shy’ and ‘can’t speak’ or ’emote’ our feelings about sex. It goes to such greater extent that we forget; that it’s our decision in the end. Cases are worse when it is with your husband because, in a patriarchal society, husbands own the wives, and she should be ready anytime she wants it. Continue reading “Is It Okay To Feel This Way?”