IntersectionalityLGBTQIA+ A Struggle Through Labels: Journey Towards Being Queer

A Struggle Through Labels: Journey Towards Being Queer

This story is about how I journeyed through the road that most queers, it starts with battling one label, then another, to realise that there was no need for any labels to begin with.

Trigger Warning: mentions of self-harm and suicide

The first time I knew I was queer I was in the lap of a best friend. I had come to confess that I was attracted to her and that life was starting to make some sense again. But she climbed out of my lap, sat across from me, looked me in the eye and told me it was just a phase. This incident opened my eyes. 

I could fathom a world where I would like, love and care for, and be cared for by both men and women. It was a long time after this before I identified as bisexual. At the time, it made sense. I had dated boys before, that must mean I liked them and now, I was developing a feeling for a girl and felt like I could date women too. My identity was based on very limited knowledge about queerness. 

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It was a particularly difficult time, I had been overdosing for a month and cutting myself and almost attempted suicide. My best friend called my family to take me and care for me at home. I was taken to Bangalore given tetanus injections and started on therapy and meds with a psychiatrist. I told them about how it was that I felt crippled and frustrated living like the un-dead during my days in Kota.

I told them everything about my psycho-social issues, except my queerness. It just didn’t seem relevant and even they did not bother to ask me about my gender or my sexuality. They saw me and assumed me to be a straight woman. 

I started getting better too, became less depressed and started enjoying little things in life. The only times I would open the little pandora’s box of my sexuality were secret letters I wrote to the same best friend of mine, apologising if I had inconvenienced her and thanking her for saving my life. Only she knew that my queerness had almost cost me my life and that my life now was costing my queerness. 

I came to Delhi in 2019, I got admission to Kamala Nehru College, Delhi University for BA (Honours) in English and was elated. This was my chance to get away from all the self-hatred, fear, frustration, and frustration that Kota had cost me. I had always wanted to read literature and here I was, finally. One of my professors in her lectures told us to take a stray bit of paper and write down our expectations, and aspirations at college!

I don’t remember what else I wrote but one thing that I had written and that I was calling on to the universe for manifesting is love. When it did come, I had not been expecting it in that particular way, shape, or form. 

I spent three months of college in an absolute lull. I made no friends, could not effectively sign up for any society, and even when I loved literature and everything about it, I could not attend my classes regularly due to depression. I would lie alone in the shared room of my pg and just try to exist and not kill myself. For a long time, it felt like nothing had changed. 

Image Credit: Sushrita Bhattacharya for Feminism in India

Sometime around October that year, I formed a queer society in my college. A few people knew about each other and talked about their sexualities mostly in passing. They wanted to make a safe space where people could come, talk, and make friends. The plan seemed okay for the time being. I don’t know about anyone else, but this society was the one revolution I needed in my lifetime. 

Through the society, I came to know so many students in my college who were like me and students who were very unlike me but very queer indeed. This was when I started questioning whether I was truly bisexual or not. I began to think about other labels that better suited me like, grey sexual, or somewhere on the asexual spectrum. There were people whom I could talk to and share my experiences with and feel like they were valid. It is so much better to talk to a person about lived experiences than to google them as symptoms and expect a diagnosis by an AI. I went on many dates and figured that I liked receiving white roses instead of red ones and if I had to give someone flowers myself, I chose sunflowers over roses. These things meant the world to me. 

Also read: Claiming Spaces On Campus: Reflections Of A Transgender Student

Come 2020, all this knowledge about myself and my quest for self-discovery was halted, packed in a box and sent back home. Everything that I tried to escape came full force on my face. Living under the same roof with the family that had abused you, is no easy task. I became non-verbal for almost six months. The silence broke with me, standing with cutlery in both of my hands with laboured breathing, my parents across me, scared that I would break it or throw it or just breakdown. One of my abusers from childhood had come home and was sitting in the lounge. I was shouting in my highest pitch to get that man out of the house. In the end, my father got a hint, told that man to leave and the cutlery was saved. 

It was in the next few months that I started therapy again to understand why I behave the way I behave. I needed an outlet from the smoking factory that my home had become. To just breathe for a moment. The therapist told me to address my pandora’s box. I realised that pandora’s box was full. I took out the issues one by one and placed them on my shelves so that every day I see them, I get to think about them, talk to myself about them and maybe, come to a resolution. 

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Image Credit: Ritika Banerjee for Feminism in India

One interesting thing that came from deep within the box was my issue with relationships. It was astonishing to me that as much as I cared for love, I was scared of a relationship. My relationships made me feel chained to the earth, my wings clipped and held down in a cage with nothing to breathe. This was when I realised that I might not be monogamous. I started discovering polyamory, the openness polyamory gives to the partners and the trust and the love that is built between the partners made me hope again.

I discussed it with my therapist and one of the persons I was falling in love with, both of them enabled me to explore more about polyamory and that if I should label myself as polyamorous, it wouldn’t change who I am to any of them. My queerness was setting me free.

Early next year, I entered into a relationship with the person I had fallen in love with. Remarkably, I did not feel chained then. I felt happy and content and safe. Just both of us acknowledging that I was polyamorous, made me bold, it made me free. I loved more freely and I took more chances with love and I didn’t back out from confessing my feelings. I was happy and I was proud. 

I am currently dating nobody, I wanted some time to centre myself and think about myself before I could think about my partners. This story is about how I journeyed through the road that most queers, it starts with battling one label, then another, to realise that there was no need for any labels to begin with. Today, I identify as queer, no more, no less. 

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