Causes that matter, need to be spoken about and highlighted till it helps in every possible manner. This year, I have signed up with my Blogging Platform ( Blogchatter– India’s leading community of bloggers ) to write on topics that matter in the current times and this would be categorized under the heading #causeachatter and get special attention from the entire community.
In the first two quarters of the year, my chosen causes were “Mental Talks”. I have always tried my best to highlight real cases and bring forth real life heroes, who courageously do their part and inspire us to stand up to a cause. My first guest was Ms. Manisha Behera, ( Co-Founder of Odisha Bikerni ,Odisha Chapter of “The bikerni, association of female bikers in India”) and how she overcame her personal difficulties and make a mark of her own. You can read the interview titled Cherish your flaws to know more about her and get inspired.
In the second quarter, I was fortunate to interview Mr. Manish Singh who at the peak of second wave of Covid-19 , went all the way out to help the victims in his personal capabilities & proved that , if there is a will, there has to be way ! You can read the interview titled Beacon Of Hope to get motivated by his vision & his noble actions.
This quarter , my choice was “Gender Talks” and you can read my first post titled Can love be genderless? So this post is in continuation to the same. We read, listen and talk a lot about LGBTQ community and we all form our own opinions. We do it because , probably it is the easiest to do so! To have opinion about everything, to get judgmental and form a bias. Mostly also because, we do not understand the topic , sometimes forming a judgement does not affect us in any way and some even talk just for the sake of it !!
Well, so this time I contemplated that instead of writing my view points, it would really be great to know the other side of the story, a sneak peek into the reality ! I think it is rightly said, if you truly want something to happen, the whole universe conspires to fulfill it. And so when I was wondering about whom to interview, my twitter family came to my rescue! Just after publication of my first article, I received a lot of positive views and among them , I had a reader named Ms. Essvari Iyerdouria, declare on my twitter timeline about how happy & grateful she was to read my article & also openly came out about her own sexual orientation. I took a moment to let the feeling sink in and gave her a silent salute for being so courageous & owning it all up! And hence, there was no better person other than her to speak her story and let us all know about this sensitive topic which in my view point should be treated as absolute normal . May be one day, the society will help realize the importance of inclusivity & equality! Till that time, we have to keep our fight on & so through my pen, I have tried my little bit , to bring forth you a real life case .
A brief introduction:
I came across Ms. Essvari on twitter through #VSS prompts and it is love of words & poetry that we follow each other till recently, when she openly declared about her own preference after reading my article. She is a writer & below are her WIPs which she will be publishing soon. Please read her story below because, she is real & speaks from her heart!
The interviewee has given her consent to publish this interview in the public domain and the use of her own picture. The disclaimer is below the interview & I have quoted her in her own words.
(Love Wins was published in the Year 2015 in a limited edition capacity & is archived under the University of Manila. Others are Work in Progress Of the Author which will be released soon)
Participant name: Ms. Essvari Iyerdouria
Q-Please tell us something about yourself.
Ans-I never set out to be a writer. Like any middle-class third generation Malaysian Indian family, I was groomed from a young age to study law, because I (apparently) talked a lot when I was a toddler. I guess as I grew up, I compensated for all my babblings by being a protégé-in-spirit of sort to Director Maniratham (read: less talk, learn more) To quote, Robert Penn Warren, “You don’t choose a story, it chooses you.” So did my flair for writing. I noticed that I express myself better with writing in my late twenties. (Hence WhatsApp and Twitter are my to-go-to mode of communication).
Q- You write a lot of poetries on twitter. What has been your inspiration for your creative pursuit?
Ans-Poetry is the language my heart speaks these days. Whether it’s grief, dreams, hopes, faith, laughter, or love; I find myself expressing it better with writing. Life and it’s many facets, color my perceptions with the beauty and poignancy of words. What started out as merely copywriting to help out a friend, soon developed into ghostwriting, content writing, research writing and now fiction writing.
Q-What are your views on gender issues? How has it affected you?
Ans-It’s a frustrating issue with no end in sight. There are still gender based discrimination that are prevalent in this society. Women are still trying to fight for body autonomy. Men are fighting oppression towards openly talking about mental health. Transgenders are ostracized, even as many people are successful in their careers/education. Everyone keeps suggesting to ‘talk-it-out’ with no collective agreement in addressing the facts before us nor finding solution for the long run. Talking just for the sake of talking isn’t going to help anyone. We must endeavor to find a solution to these human rights issues.
Personally, the fact that I am a woman has immediately put a limitation to my career/economic prospects. Either I must be JK Rowling or head to a 9-5 job. It’s, maddening.
Q-As a member of LGBTQ community, how difficult has it been dealing with societal biases?
Ans-As a lesbian, societal biases are something I’ve grown to ignore over the years. Though it hurts deeply, I’ve learnt to accept the fact that there will always be a someone who won’t accept me for my gender, colour, faith, ethnicity, economic status, and sexuality. If not one thing, it’s for another. Over the years, I learnt to create a niche for myself, which are my creative endeavors. I learn to focus on the people who accept me as who I am and be happy and grateful for small miracles. Because at the end of the day, accepting myself wholly and embracing myself from within is more important than what the world is labelling me. I am beyond that. I am me. Authentic, unapologetic, me. That is enough.
Q-Would you like to share any personal experience in this regard?
Ans-I remember when I was just coming out to my family and close friends. One of my friend who was very close to me and usually refer me as her 3 am buddy, instantly judged me when I said I am a lesbian. Of course, she apologized after that, but her emails and calls quickly turned scarce and stopped altogether in a few weeks. She cited business one day when she emailed me out of the blue, but she also added as an afterthought that her religion doesn’t accept “abomination like this.” Needless to say, we are no longer in contact.
Q- How has your sexual orientation affected your life pattern?
Ans-To be honest, it didn’t. I am still the same Essvari everyone knew. I am a bookworm. Like in the VIP movie, I’m much like Raghuvaran’s character. Only, I majored in Psychology instead of Engineering. I am my amma’s pet. Until the day she breathed her last, I put her first in my life. I still do. My amma was…is still everything to me. I love cooking. I can’t bake cakes. I love to watch classic Tamil movies (especially devotional movies) and cry when emotional scenes come up. (Any Tamil speaking readers? Remember Paasa Malar? Paava Mannippu? Karnan?) *cue sob*) I struggle with gardening. (Why is it so hard?) I meditate and do pooja. A lot. I’m a vegetarian. I’m the youngest sister in a family of six siblings. (Three brothers and two sisters.) I rather sleep than exercise, but I have no choice now. I swear the X-Men cartoon series is better than the movies. I’m an ardent fan Liverpool F.C ( nope…my favourites are Ian Rush, and John Barnes. Think, 1980s LFC.) My life pattern didn’t and wouldn’t change for the fact that if and when I choose to fall in love, it will be with another woman. But perhaps if anything does change is my option to migrate to tolerant country who legalizes same-sex marriages.
Q-How important is a family’s role in supporting a member who belongs to this community? How has it been in your case?
Ans-Family is easily the core strength for any person. More so when people who are second guessing their lives and very existence. They….we want your love and acceptance because we don’t become different overnight. We are still the same daughter, sister, son, brother, uncle auntie, cousin, nephew, niece you’ve known and loved. Who we choose to love shouldn’t factor in who we are in our core. We are just like you. Human beings. Who wants to love and be loved. And have better gardens. (Okay I may have added that last bit.) I came out to my second sister almost a decade ago. Her initial reaction, and I quote is this.” I have already swept the upper floor; you go and sweep the hall and porch.” And she proceeded to hand me the broom. My sexual orientation doesn’t faze her because she still sees me as her little sister. In fact, had it not been for Covid lockdown, she’d have dragged me to attend blind date(s) because, again, I quote “I’m not getting any younger and I should get married to a nice girl and settle down and start a family.” On a serious note, this is what everyone is looking for, regardless of gender and sexuality, in their family. Someone you can rely on and just be yourself.
Q- Has the change in the legal system benefitted the community in reality? Your take on this.
Ans-The change in the legal system, especially in Asia with regards to LGBTQIA community and their rights had been a matter of much debate. A few countries like Nepal, Taiwan, Vietnam had chosen to view this a human rights issue and approached this matter pragmatically. A few countries like India, Singapore, Japan are hesitant to adapt with the remnants of archaic law hanging above the societal view and conservative perspective constantly dampening the need to adapt swiftly. A few more countries are approaching this human rights issue as an attack on their religious beliefs. Overall, though the change has been slow but a change nevertheless in decriminalizing same-sex partnership is the right step towards an equal and healthy and functioning human right.
Q-What is your dream or message to the society with respect to their attitude/ notions towards LGBTQ community?
Ans-I still hope and dream that one day (hopefully soon) our society will look at a LGBTQIA person or family and just walk on as if that is normal. Just another thing. Not an anomaly. Not an abomination. Just another human being. Living their lives. That is all.
Q-Anything else you want to share with us.
Ans-Trust me when I say, no one wakes up one day and envisions to become gay. We are born this way. It’s a part of our DNA makeup. Just like a curly hair as opposed to straight hair. Brown eyes to green. Right hand to left-handed. This is not part of a pop culture or westernization. Far from it. Our sexuality is just that. A part of our whole being. But it is, STILL just a part of us. See us as you see yourselves. We are no different. We bleed the same. We feel. Many of us are already struggling accepting our own sexuality. Some destroy themselves through self-harming (substance and physical abuses). Some, attempt suicide. Some succeed in it. We don’t need more of dissenting voices when sometimes our own voices are loud enough to eradicate the love around us. We are just seeking acceptance. That doesn’t mean you have to be a pride flag carrying ally. Treat us with the same dignity as a fellow human being. See us no different than you are. That is enough.
And to the young (and old) people who are struggling with their identities, it’s okay to feel confused and frustrated, but please, please, please suicide is NOT the answer. You are here for a reason. We are all here for a reason. IF you can’t find the reason, be a reason someone else wants to live on. That is reason enough. Remember, YOU are beautiful. YOU are kind. YOU are strong. YOU are loved. YOU matter!
Declaration by the interviewee:
“I hereby, give my consent for the publication of identifiable details, which can include photograph(s) and/or details within the text, my replies to your answers hereon referred as (“Material”) to be published in your aforementioned Blog. I confirm that I have seen and been given the opportunity to read both the questions (provided by yourself) and Material (as attached) to be published by you for your blogging. I have discussed this consent form with Ms.Chinmayee Gayathree Sahu, who is an author of this blog. I understand this blog may be available on the internet, and will be available to a broader audience through marketing channels and other third parties. Therefore, anyone can read material published in the Blog. I understand that said readers may include not only fellow bloggers but also scholarly researchers but also journalists and general members of the public.
For your information, if you wanted to tag me in my twitter id, it’s fine with me as well.
Finally, thank you for doing this. I hope the answers resonate positively with your readers and pave the way towards acceptance of people who are from the LGBTQIA spectrum.
Best wishes and kind regards,
I am extremely grateful to Ms. Essvari Iyerdouria for championing this cause and I wish her all the best in all her future endeavors. I am also humbled that Ms . Essvari trusted me enough to reveal something so personal. She is indeed a very strong person. May God bless her & guide her in life.
This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter, Gender Talks.