Why this man is proud to be effeminate and why we are so proud of him

Gender and sexuality

I don’t feel there is anything wrong in being effeminate or being like a woman. If somebody says to me “Don’t act like a woman”, I say, “Why is there such a problem being a woman?” It’s something you should embrace, right?

Ashiesh Talwar, 27 years, Engineer, Bangalore

Interviewed by Poorva Dinesh

Why did you decide to give us an interview on gender and sexuality?
I basically feel that this topic needs to be touched upon because not many people are very comfortable to talk about this in a heteronormative society like India. It becomes really challenging for people who want to come out of the closet and talk about their sexuality and gender and how do they feel. I know a lot of people who deal with a lot of oppression because of the society. It just creates a lot of depression for the LGBT community so I feel that this topic needs visibility more than any other topic.

If I may ask you, what is your sexuality?
I identify myself as a gay man. That’s my sexuality.

But the fact that you decided to speak on sexuality indicates it means a lot to you. Is it because the majority is still homophobic or it has to do with your personal experience as a gay man. 
All I am saying is: we also need to have the same privileges a “normal person” has in the society. On the personal front, it has been more of an experience or a process that makes me want to talk about this right now.

When did you realize you were gay and when did you fully internalize that this is your sexuality?
This actually never happens if you ask me…like if I ask you the same question…when did you realize that you were a girl or a straight girl?

Yeah, it was just a part of me…
Exactly. It was a part of me too. There was no realization or anything, but I came to terms with it when I was about 14 or 15 because of course there was no education in India about sexuality or about your orientation so I didn’t know the terms for it, but I knew that it was there.

Since we are talking about gender and sexuality, it makes a lot of sense to also talk a little about your childhood.
I was bullied a lot in my childhood for being different. My mother used to tell me not to behave like a girl, or my schoolmates and roommates asked me to behave in a certain way…but I never understood why I need to behave in a certain way. I don’t feel there is anything wrong in being effeminate or being like a woman. If somebody says to me “Don’t act like a woman”, I say, “Why is there such a problem being a woman?” It’s something you should embrace, right?
When I was 11 or 12, I used to pretend to like a girl and fit into the crowd. I actually even had a girlfriend…not a girlfriend but those high school crushes. But then I realized this wasn’t me. I never had struggles accepting my sexuality like other people do. Touchwood. I was so much accepting of myself and I didn’t see any reason why I should be ashamed of it. But finding the actual terms for it was really hard. I did not even know what gay means…so that was something which was difficult for me.

What is your coming out story?
Oh it is very stupid. My coming out was very impulsive…it was not even planned. I did not plan it the way other guys do. I was going through a very bad phase and I was dumped by a boy. He made me feel so rejected that I thought that was the threshold of rejection. I thought that nobody could surpass this level and I just called up my parents and I told them.

homosexuality quotes

You were not staying with your parents?
I was staying with my parents but I was in my office…like a regular day.

So wait…you guys were staying in the same house but you sort of broke the news on the phone?
Yeah! And then I went home in the evening and I talked about it more.
I first spoke to my sister and she told me not to tell this to our parents because they had so many expectations from me like wanting a grandchild and all. But I decided to go ahead…It was a regular evening at home. We were having dinner and I turned off the TV, and asked them if they knew what gay meant. They first thought I was being funny, but later both my dad and mother cried…They worried and still worry about me not being accepted by the society, and not so much about me being gay.

I have to come out to my parents once in six months. I have to keep reminding them about who I am.
They have their expectations from me…like giving them a grandchild or giving them a daughter-in-law and it’s also the peer pressure like my cousins are getting married and having babies. My parents keep comparing. They say, “they have this, they have that…”, but I tell them that I have a good job, I look good and they don’t! (laughs). I understand their point of view as well. My mother wonders what she will do with all the jewelry now (laughs).

Does your sister support you?
My sister is very educated. When I came out to her she was OK. But now that she is married, she doesn’t want her husband or his family to know about my orientation. And she says, “Do whatever you want, but don’t tell my family about it.” It hurts.
But I’m not going to educate my sister on this because she belongs to 2017. I can put efforts into my parents and educate them because they don’t belong to a generation that readily accepts this…

Do you think you are the butt of all jokes because of your sexuality?
Many times…many times

Any one such incident that comes to your mind?
This incident happened when I was doing my engineering. A group of boys took my number and my picture and they posted it in the boys’ washroom with a note “contact for gay sex.” That was a really really bad experience I had back in college. And I got so many phone calls at that particular time…

How did you deal with it?
The college authorities found out about the prank and they kind of jumped into it…and as far as I was concerned, I reacted to it as if nothing happened.

That takes a lot of maturity by the way.
Yeah at that time it did…I did not react at all…I cried in my room but I did not let it be explicit.

Do you feel accepted now?
If you ask me, I am not seeking anyone’s acceptance because I am very happy and I have accepted myself…but it is very important for us to set an example in the society so that other people can come out of the closet. My acceptance issues were over the day I came out to my family as a homosexual man, but my parents are yet to come out as parents of a homosexual man (laughs).

Do you have any message for anyone out there? Our readers perhaps…
This is for those who feel closeted and can’t come out or feel suicidal or depressed about it – we are born fabulous. There is nothing you should be ashamed of and there are other people like us and they are everywhere. They are right next door and they are so visible that you can’t even see them. Don’t seek acceptance from the society, just accept yourself for what you are.

The last question has nothing to do with your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
Love (laughs)…love is not something which you find or you discover…you have to actually put efforts to make it happen. And it’s a really big deal to be in love and get that sincerity and to get that much of understanding to call it love.

 

Categories: Gender and sexuality

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14 responses to “Why this man is proud to be effeminate and why we are so proud of him”

  1. Sonali says:

    Wow! I am so PROUD of you Asheish! Very articulate and an inspiring interview. Many you have many nore to give!

  2. Sonali says:

    Sorry about the typos. I hope the moderator chooses this post.
    Anyway, I am extremely proud of you. At the same time I apologize for being less educated on the matter in the past. However, I am going to make it a point to really understand the LGBTQ community, the work that they are doing and the amazing possibilty of change that they can bring to our country. For a greater vision of the world which is to have world peace, it really does not matter what we belong with. However, your article is a necessary vehicle to ensure that both homosexuals and homophobics understand that this is nothing to be “ashamed of”. Kudos!

  3. Priya says:

    Great interview. No matter what people think, but I am proud of you. This is like coming out in front of the society and it’s commendable how you accept yourself. Hope that Indian society understands the soul of this interview and accepts people with gay sexuality too. #beingthechange

  4. Aditya Tawde says:

    Super proud of you !!!
    Hugs🤗

  5. Arjun says:

    It’s been an honour to be your friend. This article moved me. Just remember all the pain you’ve gone through has made you the person you’re today; strong, independent, brace and compassionate. We need more people like you to make this world a better place. I hope many people will find find hope and resilience in their lives through this article. Keep being the beacon of hope for many ashieshs yet to come. 🙂

  6. Agraj Shivam says:

    Ashiesh, dude kudos for being such outspoken about your life and experiences which you had in past. And somewhere down the line i too agree with you that, “…Don’t seek acceptance from the society, just accept yourself for what you are…” and trust me it helps to stay positive a lot of times.
    Hugs 🤗🤗

  7. Dinesh says:

    Very proud of you mate. God bless you.

  8. Chhavi says:

    If we all started talking about homosexuality at homes, in public, on screen, even on social media that our older generation uses, even as straight people fighting our fears of what they might say to us, it would be a grand effect. They’ve educated us, now it’s time for us to shine some light on a topic that they’ve buried in the dark long time ago for society. “Normal” is just another label for people who give in and conform to the wishes of the society, not an adjective for straight people. Surely, our older generation will have a hard time accepting something they’ve never had to deal with before, but there are some of them who’ve opened their eyes for the well being of their child. The fire is catching, it is the moment we all start talking freely about it.

  9. Rajat says:

    You know I love you so much. <3

  10. James Vincent says:

    You’re amazingly brave and doing this interview took a lot of strength. I’m sure it’ll make a difference for hundreds of confused gay kids. I know it would have helped me when I was 15.

  11. Hardeep Kaur says:

    It takes so much courage to be yourself and follow your heart and you are doing exactly that. I have no doubt about how fabulous you are and now is the time to let the world know. I feel so proud that you are acting as a catalyst to bring positive changes in the society. I adore your personality, creativity and spirit. Stay awesome my friend .! Much love 🙂

  12. Jai says:

    I am a gay man. I totally relate to this post and I adore you so much. Being in closet is the worst feeling. Today me and my partner love each other more than may be a straight couple but being accepted and walking around holding hands is such a big deal here, needless to mention illegal. Hope such interviews change the mindset of people

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