Amid the dark alleys and illuminated cities, there is a section of folk trapped in the woes of prejudices, humiliation, and stigma. They are often interrogated with bizarre curiosities, gawked at their appearance and gestures, judged for carrying themselves uniquely, and particularly, for not matching rhythms with the general public. Yes, I am talking about the LGBTQ community.
“The presence of the third gender has numerous evidence throughout history. Significant books like Kamasutra or the Rig Veda holds accounts on such, yet people of the present day do not want to accept us.” Romi muttered with a long sigh.
As I take my second bite of paratha, Annie ba (Romi’s sister) narrated how ruthlessly passerby rebuke or look down upon at her brother, as if he were an alien. She, despite knowing about her brother’s interest in makeup, dolls, and pink, acknowledges his preferences and treasure his needs wholeheartedly.
Unlike his peers, who confine themselves to certain limitations in regard to their sexuality, Chow Poran J. Gogoi, also known as Romi, despise leading a pretentious life.
“My life holds a series of unfortunate events interlaced by melancholy.” As he talked in detail about others from his niche, I didn’t lose the chance to learn in-depth about his life, about this life- often unheard, secretive, and full of mystery and myths.
Here is the not-so-quick question set that he replied without any hesitation.
A very basic question, when did you first realize that you are a gay?
I never realized or had this idea that I was different from the rest. It is a feeling that was given to me by this society. According to them, I did not fit in their shoes. For them, I was neither a straight man nor a straight woman.
Precisely, during my growing stage, I felt an inclination toward my feminine side more. I felt I am trapped in a wrong body. Things were very indistinct. I was in class 9 or 10 when the internet came in Guwahati. After I researched numerous websites, finally found out that I am different from others or probably others are different from me.
How was the struggle during those initial times?
It was like fighting with your own self. You have an inner feeling that constantly tells you that you are normal and absolutely all right. But then when you have to prove yourself or act a certain way to make others happy, a perpetual battle between your own psyche and existence drink you down entirely. It was such a depressing phase. It broke me completely. I even tried to kill myself. I would just do anything to be invisible.
My parents’ demise, on the other hand, compounded more fuel to the flames. When people ask me about my happy moments from childhood, I literally have to think. It’s a phase that I don’t want to recall.
Gay men are often projected or considered hyper-sexual. Is it true?
Gay men are more visible. Men, compared to a woman, are much more active, sexually. While heterosexuals celebrate their sexuality openly, gay men do not have the same liberty. They have to put the kibosh on their desires and wants. Thus, in an attempt to convey their feelings, they often end up being perceived as sexual connotation by others.
How is the scenario in Guwahati?
We have a very strong community in Guwahati but not everyone wants to come out. Some are open, some are not. We even gather for get together to share our spaces. Gay men from different background attend these meetings, talk about their issues, and discuss about creating awareness among general public.
What happens in such gatherings?
Gatherings like these are mostly about empowering this community with emotional support. People talk about their feelings and celebrate this life. Here, the members of LGBTQ break all restrains and connect to their own self.
Do straight men approach you?
Oh, very much. *giggles* Almost 98% of men who had flirted with me, are straight men. Maybe because they consider me a girl or probably find me trustworthy. I enjoy those attention very much. *laughs*
Have you tried making out with a girl? How did it go?
Well, yes. I did this social experiment when I was 18. She said it will be fun. After the initial step, it became difficult for me to hold on to it and we dropped the idea halfway.
Why do gay men talk or act with gestures that are too much feminine? Are there any rules that gays have to act in a certain way? Is it attention seeking? Or is it some sort of practice?
This is no rule, practice, or attention seeking. Not all, but some gay men feel that their body is very fragile and soft. Even if they speak or move, it will be very rhythmic and soft. They are way too soft. That’s extreme girly and happens naturally, mostly with gay men who are overmuch in touch with their feminine side.
I have seen that most makeup artists or fashion designers who are gay are loud, rebellious, and emphatic. Why is it so?
Initially, I was vulnerable and angry, made both jaded and wary by my solitary life. But with time, I have learned to depress and ignore those mocks and taunts. But some gay men are fed up with regular suppression and ridicules. Eventually, they become boisterous and loud and are laced with profanity. They don’t give a damn. If they like someone, they will profess, no matter how obscene it appears to the other person.
Some are being patient, waiting for a miracle to happen whereas some have accepted the fact that no miracle is going to happen. Society is never going to change so they should be as bad to them as they are.
How helpful is Assam Government toward the LGBT community?
*Laughs* Assam government doesn’t even have a freaking clue about LGBT. There is no help from the government. They don’t know about LGBTQ. The pride rally that happens every year, is nothing less than a joke for them. And louse Assamese media, for the sake of creating a sensational news, would bombard with obnoxious questions like “What are you doing? Why are you parading? What are all these masks and makeups about? Oh, these guys want their rights.”
Ever given a chance, will you prefer a sex change operation?
There are numerous risks associated with such surgeries. And even if you get your sex change operation done, you won’t be considered a woman. You will be considered a trans woman, leading to only a fistful of men approaching you for marriage.
Sex change operation is something that not every gay men desires. It is a personal choice. I would not want to opt for sex change. I am happy with my body. But kudos to the ones who dare to take such risks.
What kind of remarks do you receive from people while stepping out of home?
People stare at me, every time. And staring is something I can’t stand. I even tried putting on the beard, still, people stare. Even when I am not putting makeup or wearing my pink skirt with a pink pouch, people gawk at me.
There was a time when I badly wanted to be popular, wanted to be seen, wanted people to know me. But now, I literally want to be invisible.
How do you respond to people’s curiosities?
Oftentimes, people ask me how it feels like being a gay. I say I feel like a mutant, I feel fantastic. People are so much curious to know what I do in bed, how I do it. People even ask me how I perform in bed. It was so uncomfortable when in an interview I was asked how sexual intercourse takes place between two men.
Would you like to mention a humiliating moment of your life?
I was called to judge a fashion show. As always, I was dressed up in a flamboyant manner. While the other two judges were duly felicitated, I was overlooked. They forgot to felicitate me, and I was standing there for nearly 20 minutes. Then later, they are like “Oh we have one more judge with us.” It was such humiliating for me. Had I not been open about my sexuality, I would have got the same amount of respect as the rest. Such things, when they occur at the initial stages of one’s career, breaks their self-esteem completely.
Gays are often assumed as predators of sex. Can you explain this why?
If people see a girl and a boy holding hands or kissing in public, they will let it fall between the cracks. But in cases of gays or transgenders, if people find them holding hands, they will create a huge ruckus.
If I like a guy and try to pass a comment or flirt with him, like any other human, it is so normal for me. I was only trying to make a connection. Trying to tell him that look at me, I am interested in you. But to the other person, it appears as if I am approaching him for sex. At times, when I compliment a guy that he’s cute or hot, he’ll be like “How dare you to call me hot.” But if a girl says that, he will take it as a compliment.
Do you think people’s mindset toward this community has changed over the years?
Things have rather turned sour with time, largely due to its grotty projection and people’s ignorance. Gay men are frequently being exhibited in the Indian entertainment industry as a travesty. Whenever there’s a funny, hilarious, or embarrassing moment, gays are being placed with a funny background music. We were never projected in a respectable manner. People think gay men are nothing but an object of ridicule or mockery.
What do you expect from the government?
Create more awareness about LGBTQ. If the government start speaking about it, the mass will follow anyway. There should be certain public forums or mediums where people from urban or rural areas both, can know about the difference and division. If section 377 get abolished and people start talking about it openly, they will get to know about our existence and in fact, several traditional beliefs will get dissolved over time.
People should know that being a gay (a lesbian, bisexual, or a transgender) is not contagious. It is not a disease, a phase, a decision, or a life choice. We are born this way.
And supporting gay rights will not make anyone a gay. People should be more tolerant, kinder, and acceptable. They should broaden up and accept us because we have and want to offer so much to this society.
Describe your life.
My life is nothing less than a melodramatic movie. It is such unfortunate that even if I like someone or want to make out with him, things have to be under wraps. I can’t talk about my love life. If I like someone, I can’t express it. Had I put my love life on social media, I would be slapped with criticisms and insults. It has become tiresome now. Eventually, I feel deserted. Whatever stamina or energy is left, I apply it in my chores.
What gives you happiness?
Being honest with myself and sleeping sound at the end of the day, knowing that I haven’t lied to the people around me, knowing that I am pure and true to my very existence. For me, breathing with layers of lies and secrets underneath is frightful.
Dejected, depressed, and oppressed, people from the LGBTQ community often face the wrath of societal prejudices. This community has an abundance to offer the world. But despite their substantial attributes in numerous grounds, they always have to crawl in the vicious cycle of abuse and mere mockery at the end of the day.
Every time you see a loud and rebellious person from this community, remember, it’s you who made him/ her like this. Everyone deserves to be loved. Respect and see magic happen.
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