I grew up in Ranchi, Jharkhand and soon enough, I knew that I was different —having a feminine side and being queer. With time, I also realised that I loved theatre performances, music and dancing.
At the same time, I was aware that people who did not 'fit in' were not treated well in society. I had seen my classmates getting shamed and bullied, being called 'chakka' just for being effeminate. If I had to protect myself from the harassment, I had to not show people my true self. I had started living a version of me that was simply 'liked' by everyone.
A guarded, reserved and secretive childhood! I could not afford to share it with anyone.
Later, I decided to join a law school and moved to Kolkata. Eventually, this constant battle of hiding, being unable to express oneself and not letting the world see my vulnerabilities started taking a toll on me. It created a vacuum, I was slipping into depression. I had a sinking feeling that I had lost my identity—my real self. I did not know who I was because I had not allowed myself to do that.
I decided to put my foot down and take charge. So, I started exploring what was out there and stumbled upon an American reality television show for drag performers. It was the first time I came across drag culture and understood what a drag queen does. I felt I belonged here because these were people who wore their femininity confidently and performed passionately. All my notions about being bullied for being feminine were brushed aside.
I felt as if I had found my tribe!
After I moved to Delhi, I started volunteering for conventional roles in theatre groups. Every time I faced rejection for not being strong enough as the man's role should be, I knew I was made for the other role which I could not bag. After discovering drag, I believed that I could let out my creativity. One day, I mustered up the courage and bought my first costume, a pair of heels as well as the make-up.
I went home and recorded my first ever drag show. People loved the show and my friends supported the bold step I had taken in my life. Everything I had repressed was what I got to show the world with my drag character. It has, in a way, given me a second life! It is fulfilling to live my truth.
The first step towards changing your reality is to embrace yourself. For every drag performance, I have to spend at least two-three hours for the look of the character but each moment spent brings me closer to my real self. It is an everyday process and it is going to take its own sweet time.
I was always worried about 'log kya kahenge' if they found out about me or caught me watching things that were girly and make fun of me but the moment I was happy with the way I am and what I liked, I stopped bothering about people's approval.
We live in such a tumultuous time when people have extreme opinions and we are extremely passionate about our beliefs. It is important to not take everything including our identities so seriously. Looking at the bigger picture, we should live and let live and have empathy for others. Just hang on and believe that even your wildest dreams can come true!
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