Tuesday, 10 June 2014

10th June, 2014: Bridget and Talulah (Part 1)

For the millionth time today, I deactivated my PR profile. For the uninitiated, PR is an online gay dating site, more like a Facebook for gay men. What it mostly trickles down to is an instant hook up web site. Well, what to say, gay men, especially in this part of town are quite progressively (?) forward about sex. There's no beating around the bush. Over the eons we have successfully demystified the nature of sexual desires and separated them from romantic and emotional desires and understood how fleeting and immaterial these desires are. By this point, even I don't know if I am being philosophically meta or just plain sarcastic. Nevertheless, I shut my profile down again. I blocked the URL on my browser. Again. Trying seriously hard to not get back on the site for a long time to come. But that never ends in success. I know after a week, I shall be back on it again. Because you know this jism only knows bhookh. Jism ki Bhookh!*

See, here's the thing. My romantic life may suck. But my sex life is very much in control. I am quite good at it. As far as I remember 2011 was a crazy year when I just started living by myself and some kind of a nymph awakened inside of me. I did accomplish in attaining a more than satisfying sex life that year. Obviously sexual phases are just phases. All that craze and excitement eventually died down and it all came to an average level of frequency and sanity. But even now whenever my jism desires, I can get to it with ease. I have two very contradicting sides to me. One of them is what enables all this sexual prowess in me. Let's call her Talulah. If you ever watched Small Wonder in the nineties as repeatedly as I did, you would remember Harriet used to refer to herself as the Sex Goddess Talulah. And that's where I picked it up from and made it my running joke that I was the essential Talulah. I was 13. Anyway, so Talulah now after 13 more years, is the really evolved and empowered person in me who is free from the shackles of heteronormativity and gender stereotypes. And she perceives sex as a physical release which can also be a political statement embedded in one's own life; and when combined with emotional and romantic desires, it can be absolutely enlightening. Now Talulah is majorly feminist. Talulah is my alter-ego that gives me all the sense of purpose and identity in life. Although her feminism can get annoying some times, she is sort of the truest personification of my actual gender.

Before I started exploring my true gender identity, I was a queeny cisgendered guy who often liked to refer to himself jokingly in the feminine gender (Also before any enlightment about the existence of the vast amount of space between the gender binaries). I came out when I was 18 and I bought my first pair of high heels (sexy gladiators to be specific) when I was 23. During these five years in between, I traversed through some massive body dysmorphia. I was convinced that I was ugly as fuck, an idea that was unperturbed by any contradicting consolations that came from my friends. I have been overweight since a child for which I had always been bullied about. I started losing my hair as early as 17. And being inducted into the gay world (the queer world came much later), it didn't help my body image issues one bit. Instead I plunged even further. I was never the masculine, chiselled and muscled with broad shoulders and prominent cheekbones, with sexy hair. If you go to Google Images and search for the word 'gay', I was none of that. I was never the commodified stereotype of a "Gay Man" that conformist gay cultures and money-minting businesses have so efficiently embedded into the gay identity; something which can never be uprooted. And because of this I was one of the lower level rejects in the Delhi's tiny gay community, the outcast who never even believed that he belonged to that space.

Fact is my carried forward body dysmorphia obviously made it worse. (Made even worse by a really bad fashion sense. Well, my pocketmoney was always 1000INR a month. So indulging and exploring fashions was always a luxury for me that would happen once a year during Durga Puja, so you can imagine.) Maybe if I had a good amount of self-confidence and a sense of self-esteem I could have probably turned it around. Nevertheless, as it would later turn out that was never meant to be to begin with. At 23 my Dad passed away and my relationship with my mother was still estranged. So I decided to start living independently and that was the last of any family ties for me. This was the time I started socializing with a lot of people from the queer community. Especially a lot of queer feminist women, some of whom were also gender non-conforming. This really opened my mind over the years to come as I started to question my own normative limitations in my perception of the world and dig deeper into understanding what I really wanted from life. This was the process that made me realize that I never really willingly endorsed to the male gender for myself. It was more out of a social boundation and ignorance. Thus, I slowly started exploring my feminine side which gradually brought me into my own. My true identity.

After my Dad passed away I had shaved my head. Although I didn't need to as we didn't follow Hindu rituals so stringently, for me it was like paying my last respects. I never grew my hair back and kept it shaved as not only that I was losing hair very badly, eventually I recognized how hair is one of the primary gender markers in our society. Every hairstyle is traditionally associated with either of the gender binaries. Even if you try to queer it up, it always leans towards one thing or the other. And I was at a point where I was breaking everything down and building it up back again. And breaking down my gender was the first on the list. I have always daydreamed and obsessed over high heels since I was a kid, but I never imagined that I would actually own a pair. By 25 I had like eight pairs in varying kinds from stilettoes to wedges to boots to platforms. And I carried them off like a pro. Thanks to my art school training, I seemed to be a natural in eye make up. Soon I pierced my ears and started wearing ginormous danglers that looked fabulous with the shaved head. During all this transformation, my body started evolving as well. I started losing weight. I started waxing my legs and based on the compliments I would receive, I realized I had really sexy legs. So I joined aerobics and started to tone up. (I refused to succumb to the gym culture in the gay community which primarily contributed to that 'Gay Man' stereotype, even if I was the only guy in a whole class of women in aerobics) And today even though I haven't exactly attained the body type I desire to have, I am not resentful of the body I have. In fact I like the little imperfections that are such an integral part of me.

Last three years really helped me recuperate from the body dysmorphia that dogged me for years. I liked this new upgraded version of me. I was more comfortable and relaxed in my own skin. I analyzed further and decided I wasn't a crossdresser or transgendered. To be honest, I don't think I have that kind of balls to be able to brave such empowering yet challenging identities. But on the same hand, I realized like masculinity I didn't endorse to pure femininity either. My question was, why choose at all? I have bits of me which are masculine and I have a lot more bits of me that are feminine. But I am not going to refute the existence of either in my life in order to embrace and manifest the other. There was a point where I even questioned myself if I wanted to change the pronouns I am referred by. I realized in my personal opinion, I didn't believe that masculinity was any kind of propriety of only males and femininity any propriety of only females. Why not challenge the gender performance assigned to what is between my legs? Why should men who are referred to as "He" be only masculine? This is when I affirmed to myself that I am neither genders, man or a woman. I am a unique gender which is a specific combination of both. That my gender identity is unique and does not need to conform to anybody else's identity. This was when I started referring to myself as 'Genderqueer'. This was one of the main missing cogs in my life so far. This understanding of my gender sort of completed my sense of identity and who I was in totality. And this was when Talulah was born.

To Be Contiued...

* Jism = Body; Bhookh = Hunger; Ref: http://youtu.be/wG1i4iP2pPA

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