Although the Indian law decriminalized Section 377 in 2018, there are still many parts of the community that lack awareness; such as queer, pansexuality etc. Even worse, they are treated as invalid and just a passing trend. Like many others, FSOG, in an attempt to spread as much as awareness possible, got in touch with Ankit Das; a 20 year old queer journalist, photographer & traveler from Madhya Pradesh, India.
Ankit answered all of our questions about identifying as ‘queer’. Read on to acquire necessary knowledge.
Realizing that I’m NOT heterosexual:
As mentioned I am 20, which is still a young age. When I recall things regarding my sexuality, it all started when I was a kid; I was feminine in primary schooling days, was bullied for the femininity within me. To understand myself more, I started googling about my choices, my interests to know what should I call myself. As I was not aware of the term lgbtq+ at my early age, I opted to do some surveys online about sexuality. All this research helped me confirm that I’m not heterosexual, but something I’m not sure what to label it as.
My interests went on fluctuating from girls to boys in my early age. And I was highly discreet at that time, since I feared what people finding it out back then. Due to the bullying I got weak, was unable to accept myself. But as the time went, I started growing confidence and started accepting myself.
I learnt to be myself, not caring about what others will think. I stopped worrying and started working on myself, making self stronger. And now I am confident enough to face anything.
Confusion before identifying as ‘Queer’:
I had the same confusion that many people experience – coming out as gay, bisexual, etc. and later understanding they are queer. I have been in the exploring phase as well. People tend to troll these things if someone is still exploring their sexuality and tag them as fake or confused ones. But it really, it a stage/phase people go through. I used to think I was bisexual, previously. When my thoughts varied I started thinking I could be this and that too. It was one long journey to reach where I am now, identifying as a queer; and I can like anyone, and anything. I feel the freedom.
The term ‘Queer’:
Queer is a big technical term, I get confused sometimes while explaining it to someone. But to me identifying as Queer is to be free. Free from all the tags, free from all categories, being ourselves. Its being free without with no boundaries. I never wanted to put myself under a category to limit myself with the limitless possibilities in my life.
‘Pronouns’ and its importance:
Its really important, whether you’re from the community or not, to use the right pronouns. A queer individual can be anyone. I always identified myself as a male but I have been called a she which was really hurtful; I found that out through bullying. So usually one should use the right pronouns to not to disrespect anyone or hurt them. And this is the basic of the basics; to ask someone’s pronouns and pronounce it correctly so they not feel disrespected or alienated.
Yes I’m also interested in the same gender, and yes I’m still queer:
I have been asked quite a few times if I like or my interests are for the same gender then I may be ‘gay’ but not queer. Usually, I do not bother to give a reply, or simple change the topic. But I have said a few times that being Queer is my sexuality and it has nothing to do with my interest of attraction towards the same gender. And choices may differ, your interests may differ, your attractions may differ whether or not you’re a queer.
Society and it’s stigma:
Maybe because they are not used to it or maybe they are not used to the freedom; freedom to accept oneself. Our society has been brainwashed that there exists only two things male and female. Well queer people are nothing new, they’ve always been here, among us. But oppressed, because we’re taught to be a man who works hard and earns money to run their family. And a women should look beautiful and cooks good food for their family.
Whether or not we are queer we have seen discrimination from society; and we can see some insider discriminations among community as well. And if you’re not privileged then you have to face this a lot within the community as well as out side of the community. You have to make your own path if you want to live out of this discriminatory world.
Come out at your own pace:
You should believe in yourself. First you need to accept yourself, have confidence in yourself. Then only people will have the confidence in you, people will accept you. Coming out is a tough process, never hurry. Take your time, its not even important to come out, dont create a burden for yourself. And always remember if you want to come out, try to be first self independent so if your family does not accept you, you’ll have your back to live on your own.
Thanks to platforms like FSOG, there are many safe spaces today who are driving LGBTQIA+ into the mainstream and are helping out anyone who is in dire need.