Genderfluid is a fairly recent term in the community. Not many people are aware of it, and the ones who know don’t understand what it means. Does it mean to behave as if gender is non-existent? Does it mean to be a trans person?
This week, FSOG had a fun chat with Ruthvik Naik, a genderfluid person from Bangalore, who answered all these questions for us. Happy reading!
FSOG: So. You identify yourself as genderfluid right?
I prefer to go with that, yes. During my childhood, it was pretty evident that I’m gay; since I was very eccentric. But then later on in my puberty, my testosterone hit and I grew up to be pretty masculine; I was into sports and all. I wasn’t the guy who you would pick on, but I was picked on by my faculties.
There used to be times in my high school when I’d walk on the streets and these kids would be like, ‘Is that a boy or a girl?’. I was literally petrified, because those kids were having a hard time figuring out if I’m a boy or a girl. I’ve been through a lot in school and college.
By the time I entered under graduation, I’d seen it all. I suffered bullying and everything. UG is supposed to be pretty chill because people don’t give a fuck about what you do or wear.
But then I was picked on by this chauvinistic masculine guy from my class for using a lip balm.
This is when I thought to myself, ‘Why am I even hiding?’. I mean I was just living my life as a normal human being. It’s so fucked up that someone gets picked on for applying lip balm. There’s something seriously wrong with the world. That’s when I decided to grow my hair out, wear clothes that aren’t meant for me; basically doing everything that I’m not supposed to. Not in the wrong sense, of course.
FSOG: What were your initial thoughts when you realized you’re different?
My initial thoughts were, “Life is going to be hard.” There is no path paved for me, for us. That’s how it is in India right? For a girl, she should study then may be go for work and then eventually get married. And for a boy, he has to study, then find a job, get a car or apartment and then settle down.
For the longest time, I could not fit myself into this picture. I just couldn’t imagine myself as a guy who’s doing some big corporate job and then finding a girl to marry.
So for people from the community, there is no preset standard way of living that exists over here. At least right now. I’m not including other developed countries like America, because there’s a lot more awareness and campaigning happening in those nations. They have so many role models like RuPaul to look upto.
So this is where it gets pretty challenging and adventurous – we have to set our own path because of the absence of a standard lifestyle rule.
Only when you get to know the LGBTQ, you’ll understand how life is completely influenced by the gender binary. But then in reality, there are no such rules.
FSOG: For how long were you in the closet though?
It was a very gradual process for me you know? It wasn’t like an event for me like, okay I have decided to come out on this day – I’ll call all my close people and reveal it. Because, even till this day I’m not really sure if I’m a hundred percent gay or bisexual. It’s still a confusion for me, since I’m in my early twenties.
But. I’ve always known for sure that I’m not straight. That is something I’ve made people aware of.
My coming out was a gradual process through my Instagram. I’d started posting these pictures which were pretty unconventional and stuff that normal boys wouldn’t do. So people started noticing me, even my old buddies from school.
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Madhuvan • मधुवन • ಮಧುವನ When the heart is opened up, when love flows into it and from it, a sense of security prevails. With security comes freedom. There is no desire to force our will on anyone. We can be ourselves. We accept and embrace everyone, we include people, we allow them to be themselves, because we are accepted and embraced by krishna. The result is Maha-raas • माहाराह • ಮಾಹಾರಾಸ in the flowery meadow on the banks of Yamuna, known as Madhuvan • मधुवन • ಮಧುವನ.
But I think it was in my third year of UG, which is two years ago, that I completely went out.
Coming out of the closet is something that you should be comfortable with, rather than the world around you.
Because there’s a lot of homophobia around us. Especially for me, I was so homophobic (lmao) because I was scared that I’m gay. So for me, getting over my homophobia helped in coming out. To myself.
FSOG: Have you ever been confused as a person who’s going through gender transition?
Oh my god, yes many times. People comment on my Instagram saying ‘Wow, nice Trans’. But I’m okay with it, since it’s not a hate comment.
A lot of people think I’m going through a gender transition, but it’s not the case.
I even have trans women friends, who’d send me stories of them or other instagrammers undergoing transition. Then they’d ask me, ‘When are you going to start your transition?’
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Mum, these might be our last days and all I have ever wanted to do was to wear your saree . . . . . . . #wlyg #fordmodelscout #futureface #newgenerationscout #scoutmechadwick #thelookout #willyscouts #m1modelscout #transmodel #indiantransmodel #indianmodels #brownmodel #androgynousmodel #bangaloremodel #scoutmein #androgynous #genderfluid #saree #sareenotsorry #queerart #queer #androgynousfashion #androgynousmodel #genderfluid
Quite honestly, when I was young even I’d cry that I should’ve been a girl. I’d pray to my god that, ‘Please make me a girl’, which is like every trans person’s experience. They wish to wake up as a boy or a girl, but sadly that’s not how it happens. But then later on in life, I was dysphoric about being recognized as a female.
FSOG: What is genderfluid fashion?
I’ll tell you what gender fluid fashion is not. It’s about not objectifying fashion. In the normal world, they try to objectify things for the sake of the market. Why do you think there are two different categories for men’s garments and women’s garments? A t-shirt that a girl wears, her boyfriend could also wear the same quite honestly.
They specifically categorize garments, designs and colors separately for men and women just to make a profit out of you. Fashion is really political. I honestly feel making genderfluid clothes would make everything sustainable.
FSOG: So what’s the difference between gender fluid and gender neutral fashion?
Gender neutral fashion is very commercial. It’s more to do with unisex clothes. But gender fluid fashion is more to do with big high brands.
There are so many big brands who just paint a rainbow on their regular clothes and sell them as LGBTQ clothes for very high prices. It’s so stupid.
Gender fluid fashion is just picking out a fabric from Khadi Bhandar, irrespective of who should wear it, and designing clothes from it. That’s actually what I do. I just go to my tailor and give him my designs.
FSOG: Wait, what’s your tailor’s reaction to your designs?
Haha, the tailor’s pretty chill. Because he knows I’m from NIFT. So he’s pretty used to it by now.
FSOG: There are many people who think gender fluid fashion is just another phase that will fade away. Your thoughts?
Oh god, it’s definitely not a phase. I think the world is evolving towards gender fluidity in fact. People are going to realise how obsolete these gender roles are soon.
Gender fluid fashion is not a phase, it’s here to stay. And it’s not going anywhere.
FSOG: Tell us about your biggest role models.
RuPaul. Being a black queer person, look at everything he’s achieved. He has an empire today and it’s so inspiring.
Others are Shashi Tharoor, Angelina Jolie, Oprah, Ellen, all these talk show hosts. The way Shashi Tharoor went to Britain and is part of the UN, he’s also won so many debates – he is another person I look up to.
The kind of things that you’ve achieved when compared to the beginnings you’ve had – which is so surprising and unpredictable – those are the things that truly inspire me.
I someday hope to do something completely unpredictable. That the people who know me would’ve never expected it out of me. I dream of the day I can achieve something like that.
FSOG: Was the fashion industry your forever goal?
Ever since I was young I was very much into fashion, I used to do a lot of fashion illustrations or sketching. But my mom really wanted me to become a doctor, which right now when I think of it – haha, it’s such a joke. Then, I’d written the NIFT exam and fortunately I’d gotten into. This turned out as my default option, otherwise I’d need to take a break. Which was completely unacceptable in my conservative family. They wanted me to get out after 12th, because they were worried about what people would say.
That’s how I ended up getting into NIFT. I’ve been collaborating with many people who want a model ever since, and now I’m getting calls from modelling agencies through Instagram.
As of now, I don’t know if modeling is my ultimate goal but I definitely want to stick around in the fashion industry.
FSOG: Is the fashion industry welcoming towards the LGBTQIA+?
Oh my god, it’s very welcoming and it’s great. Fashion industry is what made me completely comfortable with who I am. It’s like a therapy. You get to be who you are and you’re not judged for it. No one questions your choices, or doesn’t look at you in a very mean and bad way.
In other industries your choices would raise questions, but in fashion it wont. The whole point is to be eccentric and unique, not boring. I guess that’s why I’m very drawn towards it.
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O imaginary love, I have never felt you, you have never seen me, fell down again- alone, blisters smile at you, numbed my blues, yesterday's hikkies you never got, today is spoilt for you, my guitar isn't tuned, and the song is an impromptu, I am curious though, if I will ever miss you. #wlyg #fordmodelscout #futureface #newgenerationscout #scoutmechadwick #thelookout #willyscouts #m1modelscout #transmodel #indiantransmodel #indianmodels #brownmodel #bangaloremodel #scoutmein #indianmalemodels #queerart #queer #androgynousfashion #androgynousmodel #genderfluid
FSOG: Do you think the pressure of looking best at all times is a new trend or something that existed through the ages?
Honestly I think it’s because of social media that this has come up, lately. Don’t you think it’s completely subjective again? Personally I have never once felt the pressure of looking good at all times. Once I came out, I stopped giving fucks about what people will think of me. In fact there were times when I’d wake up and decide to be ugly that day.
Right now I’m going through this rebel phase, where I’ll do everything you don’t want. So I’d wear some loose kurta, some chappal, and put off tons of oil in my hair – basically look the worst.
It’s honestly really fun to look ugly. Annoying people is fun, haha.
FSOG: What are your thoughts on community empowering platforms such as Fifty Shades Of Gay?
I really applaud the whole concept of FSOG. Because through social media, there is no need to give your physical presence. Most people are very hesitant to show up physically to queer meetings and conferences. But platforms like Instagram do not require you to be visible, and still lend your support to the community. You are being aware and you are getting educated.
We are slowly moving towards a revolution and that’s a job well done from you guys and other such platforms.
FSOG: Lastly, what is your one word of advice for the people from the community who aspire to work in fashion one day?
Please be yourself. Don’t be hesitant. Be comfortable in your skin. Your confidence makes you attractive and will draw people to you. Connections and networks are two very important things in the fashion industry.
Slowly we are getting many role models to look up to in India as well. There are already a few, but then there are only few.
Most importantly, have a great portfolio. All the best!