Chennai is that one metropolitan city that has two kinds of people according to the Queer culture, the ones who are completely aware of the community and the ones who don't have a minimum idea about the basic terminology of the LGBTQIA+ community. My observations in my recent trip to the capital city of Tamilnadu, made me realize that people are extremists in the aspect of knowledge and behavior. All the knowledgeable people who are in the community or who support the queer, are good to each other and outsiders too and these people organize events, parties, clubbing and queer carnivals all over the city. Whereas, the ignorant people, behave by spilling extreme judgmental criticism with their demeaning comments and disgusting stares. But there is one more category in Chennai, the people who swing in between these two extremes, the transgender community. Though these belong to the queer community, they are quite unaware of the queer education and the terminologies.
This is one of the common issues in Pan India. The people from the transgender community face a lot of struggles from their childhood phases and most of them end up without proper education and awareness of the LGBT community. The local transgender mentors prepare them well enough to face society and to lead a life ahead. Well, I could sense the innocence and unawareness when I bumped into a trans-woman on the shore of Marina beach.
On 6th March, Friday, I was having completely a fashionable "me-time" to escape out of some blues in my life. Well, retail therapy always works for me, hence after shopping and roaming around in the Express Avenue, I got to hang out with my Photographer who clicked me beautifully two days before on the shores and woods of Mahabalipuram. I got a good amount of followers and pals from Chennai, most of them are from the Queer community. As I'm a sucker for beaches, I asked him to take me to the Marina Beach, where his girl pal and now became my psychological counselor pal, tagged along with us. It was great meeting two new people for the first time. They were new to me, but they claimed that they have been following me for years. That was a sweet gesture. Yes, if you ever visit Chennai, you mostly bump into sweet and trustworthy people, no doubt in it.
The beach in that night looked perfectly ravishing, the huge bay, the well-lit beach road, the sea breeze, the crescent shine on waves, that's cool sand with foamy waves, everything elevated the beauty of the Marina Beach, claiming to be one of the largest beaches. I was completely immersed in the beauty of nature and ran my fingers on my body out of chillness while talking something deeply about life with Apoorva whereas Prabhu was just dealing with his phone calls standing alone on the sand with his helmet. Normally, on many beaches, we find people asking for a little charity but with Transgenders, it became mandatory. Well, this is another aggressive topic to raise in the community though.
Exactly, while we were in deep conversations, there appeared a trans-woman asking for money and after seeing me, she just dropped her jaw for a while and posed me a straight question in Tamil, where I got to understand without translation, "Are you a transgender too?" I never get offended by this question, because I hardly give a damn about labels and orientations, but I clarified her that I'm an effeminate gay. Soon after that she again came up with a very simple question, "What is being gay"? This time, I couldn't restrict myself to answer her completely. If time would have permitted me, I would have taken a little class for her. She sounded funny, innocent and she kept on praising me all the while. All four of us had a conversation for more than ten minutes.
She was completely speaking in Tamil and she couldn't understand what I was trying to say but my pals have helped her by translating whatever I said. This clearly says that she is unaware of the terminologies of queer culture and less educated too. Because of my long hair, orange mesh top, makeup look and a lot of piercings made her think that I was a transgender. But after I tried explaining her clearly with the help of my pals, she somehow managed to understand the difference between an effeminate gay and a trans-woman.
Her name sounded posh and she was very sweet to me. Though at first, she was throwing some passive-aggressive comments on not understanding the difference between a transgender and an effeminate guy, later on, she showered too many compliments. I couldn't stop blushing and smiling. I could still remember one compliment I got that day from her that I could easily rule and crush all the Transgenders in Chennai with my looks and presence. I felt really happy because receiving compliments from Transgenders is one heck of a task. But I felt also sad when I came to know that these people are quite unaware of queer terminologies, basic education, sex education and completely dedicating their lives to roads under the leadership of some mentors.
It was devastating to encounter such situations where people from the same community can't understand the similarities and differences between each other. Even though you are from different categories in the queer community, whenever you face people who are unaware of the basic terminologies, instead of getting offended, maintain a smile and spare some time to acknowledge them for the betterment of yourself, others and the whole community. That conversation from that evening with that transgender, made me realize one thing that it is very important to educate the people in the community before trying to educate the people outside of the community. Whatever, it was, that trans-woman marked a memory in my life and hence, I wanted to share the story and the experience which brought a smile on my face!