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My Story: “My Sexuality Gives Me Power To Conquer My Emotions Every Single Day”

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My life has always been a roller coaster ride starting from the school to college to even my work place. Every stage gave me some or the other learnings. I always believe in this amazing quote by Doug Cooper which says “Identity cannot be found or fabricated but emerges from within when one has the courage to let it go”. The reason why I chose this quote is because it somewhere connects to my coming out journey. It was 2001 when  I realized that I am different from others.  I realised that I don’t feel the same as others around me do. It has been a long time, I still remember how his first glance towards me made me blush and his casual touch made me feel special. That’s when I got to know that I am attracted to men and not women.  

I was scared, I was nervous and I was trembling without having any idea about what to do. I couldn’t share my feelings with anyone. All I could do is keep this terrible feeling to myself. Days passed by and people started making fun of me. I was never called by my name. I was called Chaka or Hijra. People used several  hand gestures at me. My very own best friend disowned me saying he can’t be friends with me because of my sexuality & his religion considers it a sin. I was traumatized, I was depressed, I was shattered. It was slowly and slowly killing me from inside.

 There was a stage when I even stopped talking to my parents. I didn’t eat for days. It was a time when I went through hell. Child Sexual Abuse! I went through it even when I didn’t exactly know what it meant. He was a fifty year old man who still continues to haunt my memories. I never knew that me with my homoxesual identity would ever be able to share my traumas with anyone but here I am and this is #MyStory.

I grew up, went to college but the insecurity of losing out on people who I may hold dear never left me. As a simple way to avoid the situation, I used to lie to people that I am straight. I never realized the fact that people just knew that I am gay. But One fine day I became so frustrated that I tried taking my own life. But in the face of utter hopelessness, sometimes something sparks up and it gives you a reason to hold on for a little longer. I stayed! Why? Because just when I was going to wipe off myself from this world, an angel came down in the form of a friend and she told me a few things that literally changed my life, pretty much! At least that is what I believed at that point in time! She said, “Bala why don’t you once live for your parents? Why don’t you live for those few who give a damn about you? Why don’t you live for yourself? Dramatic as it may sound, it changed my life. It did! It was then when I was going to take my first baby steps towards being and living for myself, towards daring to own my identity. It was difficult, just like making a muscle, it did take a lot of strength and muscle to work up courage. But I was getting there at my own pace.

Like they say, when you truly wish for something, the universe brings that to you in a heartbeat! I moved to Delhi. It was a major turning point in my life. I met my ultimate reconciliation with myself when I got a job with an LGBTQ magazine called Galaxy. Thanks to human angel Sukhdeep Singh who introduced me to the community and made me understand the vitalities of Gender. I was empowered. I was!

What is Gender? Google says it’s a person’s perception of having a gender which may or may not correspond with their birth sex. That’s where we all go wrong! This was a simple thing, a simple answer that I was looking for all my life. I knew it but I was always afraid to accept it! Gender is a perception that people form since beginning Man/Woman, He/She. Gender is just an external appearance of one’s identity usually expressed through behavior, clothing, voice etc. It’s a heteronormative assumption that a boy will grow up and marry a woman. A woman will grow up and marry a man, we never tried realizing the fact that homosexuality prevailed in India. We never tried realizing the fact that a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman. Being a Gender Fluid person, I always wonder why gender boundations come in between: Men can only wear black and dark colors, women can only wear pink and other light colors. Often gender imposition takes the form of pressure that can take lives, of self.

Accepting yourself and taking pride is also education! A lot of times, we are unaware of our own bounty because the society has tried to fit us into constructs.  A number of new revelations and gratifications, one after the other made me identify my real self.  I was no more trying to be someone else. I was slowly being the gender fluid person that I was and I was getting comfortable in my own skin. This was a time in life that I wanted to scream from the rooftops that  it’s completely normal if a boy dresses up like a girl, there is no harm in living the life the way you want to, there is no harm in expressing your own self.

Today, I feel I have come a long way. It’s been a long coming out journey. After a long dark phase, I am now out and about. It feels surreal that my story that started off with humiliation and suicidal thoughts have now beautifully transformed into one that is happy and chirpy. #MyStory has become a learning curve for everybody. Sometimes unbelievable things happen na? I know! On a sassy note, remember to keep your chin up because Genitals don’t define your Gender, your spirit defines your gender. 

– Ramakrishnan Balaji

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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