Sunday, August 7, 2011

Going back home

"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness." - James Thurber

How aptly this sums up my first couple of meetings with {WHaQ!}. This may sound odd to you; even dramatic. To me, it's been a long time coming and thank God for support groups like this. And thank you to the 2 lovely souls that helped me find you :-)

I remember calling the helpline a few weeks before the meeting. I had no idea what I was going to say. I wasn't sure who'd pick up the phone and when they did, how would I begin? Should I tell them the truth? Should I use my alias?

I could always start with "I'm calling on behalf of a friend..". But I didn't want to. For once, I wanted to drop this baggage I'd been carrying, all my life. It had worn me down enough. I was tired of pretending to be someone I wasn't. This wasn't about coming out to my family or my inner circle. They knew and supported me. And where they didn't understand, they loved me. Unconditionally. This was about finding support and not trying to do this journey, feeling alone.

After talking to V and R, I was happy. Elated even. But when D-day finally arrived, I was convinced that I couldn't do it. I was uncomfortable and scared. But with guardian angels looking out for me from Hyderabad to NYC, it became less fearful and more probable.

So I decided to go anyway. What was I going to lose? A lot, in fact. If things went horribly wrong as they did, 14 years ago. I still have nightmares from being hounded by blank calls, threats, and the humiliation I endured. And I haven't forgotten the violence that followed. Now, t's an even savvier, ever more intolerable world we live in. I was terrified by the possibilities. By the time I got out of my car, I was sick in my stomach. I was ready to go back. But I didn't want to let fear get the better of me. So I decided to go inside. I was told to look for a large group of women but didn't find anything close except 2 women who were chatting away. Maybe I was early. I stayed glued to my phone screen, sharing updates by the minute when one of the women approached me and asked: "Are you here for the {WHaQ!} meeting?" Instead of being scared or responding with a garbled, "What's that?" or "I've no idea what you're talking about…", I surprised myself by saying "Yes!"

Slowly, people started walking in and as I began to say hello, I realized that for the first time in my life, I was publicly, lesbian. The war that I had raged within was finally over. I met so many people. I found the face that connects to the lovely, clipped, British accent. I talked to so many people.They looked lovely. And genuine. And just out there to have a good time. For the first time in my life, it was okay to talk about Ellen and not see an unwritten question in their eyes. For the first time, it was okay to discuss all things big and small without worrying about whether I'm being judged for my sexuality. I was having such a good time that I was surprised when it was time to leave…I felt lighter. And walked taller.

3 years ago, I was all but broken. And my spirit, crushed. Two life events in the space of 4 months had changed my life, forever. First came the dreaded C that hit me like a freight train. Then came the unthinkable. The break-up of my marriage with my partner of 15 years. Everything I had nurtured and cherished broke into a million pieces. I lived to please her. But she was gone. Just like that. Her timing couldn't have been worse. I was stunned by the low points of humanness.

Today, I'm trying to make peace with myself. Maybe even have a cup of tea with life again. Without being cynical, angry, or afraid. And if I genuinely tried, who knows what can happen. Anything is possible. At least, I've taken the first baby step to going back home.

Monday, August 1, 2011

WHaQ! meeting: 31th July 2011

Small meeting yesterday, 4 women showed up. Funness, and Matteo's after. 

Short summary of what we discussed:

  • A few OBLs ago, we used to screen movies rather more regularly than we do now - something to actively think about doing again? This is a good opportunity to remind those of us who missed it about Deliver Me - D's first movie. We watched it as a group back in June. More of the same? Not every week, since sometimes we do have other agendas - agendae? - but it would be nice.
  • At least one of the people at the meeting is an avid photographer, so there was some technical and thematic discussion along those lines. We didn't discuss this at the meeting, but Gaysi is running a Queer Photo Contest: Queer Tasveer, looking for the best pictures of gaysi love. Click the link to check it out!
  • We talked about lesbian stereotypes - in India, the lesbian stereotype is in fact that she is invisible. Women are traditionally supposed not to have sex drives, and when they are traditionally represented as sexy they are either vamps or they're mother goddesses. If a woman's sexuality is placed at the feet of her man, how on earth is a woman supposed to have a sex drive, a libido, if there is no man there but simply another woman? The simple answer to "Who is the Indian dyke?" is "Whatever we want it to be!" because that stereotypical invisibility works to our advantage here. 
  • Following on from the last point, we talked about being in the closet in straight spaces, and staying in the closet in queer spaces because sometimes other queer women, men, could not be trusted to respect that you might not be out in your professional and other social spheres. If we have the freedom to be whatever we want to be, we have the freedom to be utterly human, and therefore the freedom to be Not Nice as well. 
  • Menopause: The Musical. Just take a look, yo.
  • Is Simi Garewal homophobic? In other new, Karan Johar is a bitch, and we like it.
  • Lesbian weddings! Savita and Beena, whose families declared yesterday that they were willing to reconcile with their lesbian daughters. “Savita's parents as well as mine have accepted our relationship and forgiven us. It was Savita's parents who had agreed initially. Now, my parents too have fallen in line after several media reports. However, my uncle Satbir Singh still has a problem with our marriage and has threatened to shoot both of us," Well, okay. I'm not sure they should leave their fifteen day protection. But okay. We spent some time yesterday wondering about the legality of the marriage, but really so long as it is not challenged in the courts - especially now that the marriage is acknowledged in a Gurgaon Sessions Court - it may not make much practical difference. We'll find out, I guess.
  • We talked about a few other lesbian weddings, specifically Baljit Kaur and Rajwant Kaur. The marriage was melodramatic and troubled - Rajwant left Baljit and Baljit slit her wrists in court. No. Really. The reporting style has changed a great deal in the four years between Baljit and Rajwant's marriage and Savita and Beena's. 
  • Mangalsutras. The round ones, with little dots in the middle. They're breasts. No, don't argue, they are well-shaped boobies with perky nipples. The husband ties it around the wife's neck. He is giving her her sexuality. Okay? Which is tied into her feeding motherhood. 
  • I found a new minion to write on this blog! We are pleased.
Then we left, acknowledging that the garage door was indeed an obstacle the defeat of which should be rewarded with cookies. We went to Matteo's, where there was nice coffee, and a yummy gossip session.