This quarantine, like for most people has negatively impacted my personal and head space as well. I identify as a homosexual person who is struggling to understand their gender. Is it necessary to label myself as queer, cis, fluid or something else? Will the label help me understand myself better or will it put me on a restrictive rigid path? I do not know.
My family and I have breakfast together since most of us have to stay at home. Since breakfast is the only meal where all of us are together for an extended period of time, some or most of the grievances that we have with each other are aired out then. While talking about my mental health issues, the conversation for some reason tilted towards my appearance. Being someone who advocates self-care and always wants to be the best version of themself, I practise a daily skincare routine. The conversation went as follows:
Dad: “Tumhe pata hai tumhare jo baal urhay hain ye sirf tumne bol bol k urhaye hain?”
Context: I suffer from male pattern baldness.
Me: “Nahi, ye mama ki side ki family se gene hai.”
Dad: “Main maan hee nai sakta.”
Moving forward, the parents critiqued on my skincare as to how most of my issues (mental) would just go away if I toughen myself up. “Ye sab cheezain chor de, inke begair dekh teray bhai k kitnay achay baal aur skin hain.”
Another incident occurred when I came to our shared bedroom/tv room after a workout. My workout clothes comprised of shorts rolled up to my butt and my t-shirt knotted at the front like a crop top. My mistake was assuming that my parents were slowly coming to terms with me acting effeminate and letting little stuff like this go. Boy was I wrong. My father commented, “yar ye kaise kapray pehnay hain? Seedha karo inko.” I got scared. I thought we were making progress. I thought we had established an unsaid rule that we weren’t going to talk about my effeminate behavioural aspects. Another jibe was made as a warning that he watches over my social media and has seen my tiktok (a slutty savage dance).
I think what he wanted me to get away with was that he’s watching me and that I shouldn’t act this way. But why? Why shouldn’t I?
I’d like to give my parents the benefit of the doubt when they ask me to move abroad and then do whatever I want to. An incident to quote is how I wore a fake septum ring at a family get together. Cousins blatantly and very rudely commented, “tujhe pata na aise fashion kaun kartay hain?” (Hint: gays). They had the audacity to say it to my father’s face in front of me. They may be meaning well but of course dear father couldn’t take it as such. The next morning at breakfast I was forbidden to wear the septum ring again and if i wanted to get a piercing, I should do it whenever I moved out of the country.
In their eyes I also see the helplessness that they feel for me. It makes me sad but also angry at the society and the toxic, repressive system we have in place. Why can’t we let individuals grow in their own capacity? Why must we have them altered, pruned and moulded into the perfect cis-het individual?
After these instances I find myself wondering time and again, would they understand me better if I came out to them? While i may not be accepted in the society at large, having a safe and understanding space at home must feel nice. Will I or any of my LGBTQ+ peers feel said comfort at home? We may never know.