I have been to the capital city of Rajasthan in the end of January for multiple purposes and most importantly to celebrate my birthday all alone with strangers around me and made an art and architecture themed vacation. On the other side, I also wanted to explore the reactions and responses of the people of Rajasthan when they come across an open gay effeminate guy like me who is utterly androgynous. I felt like committing a social experiment to share my experiences being a person from the queer community of my fellow queer people. It was exciting, edgy and ultimately judgmental indeed.
I was overwhelmed with the reactions of the millennial localite of Jaipur and how they understood my sexual orientation and how they didn't judge my dressing sense, instead of complimenting my style in return. I was thrilled and surprised to encounter such responses from the people who belong to the place of strict traditions and culture. I still remember the owner of the Full Power rooftop cafe mentioning that " We Rajasthanis have a culture of respecting and receiving guests with the utmost honor and we know that we don't have any right to question the culture of our guests". He said this when I asked him whether he felt different or weirdly annoying to talk to me while hell lot of people were watching us with a keen interest (critic's eyes). His answer made me realize one thing, that the people from the millennial era are the ones who can understand the normalcy of queer culture. The last blog of my Jaipur journal which specifies my experience with the localite of the Pink City!
A coin has two sides, similarly, every city consists of two kinds of people, especially when it comes to acceptance of the queer culture, the crowd gets divided into the ones who criticize and the ones who spread the love. On the three days trip, I have been to all of the palaces of Jaipur, best restaurants and bars and also shopping complexes. Everywhere, I found these two types of crowd. But the level of love had been always greater than the level of hatred in Jaipur. But there are some incidents which I can never overlook because these portray how a queer person gets treated among the crowd of Jaipur.
The people of Rajasthan are traditional enough to think that their culture is the most privileged. Especially, the old people of Rajasthan are very particular about the dressing sense and they can never accept a person who exposes a single inch of a body, especially females. And they expect the showcase of the utmost level of masculinity in males in appearance and also in identities. Hence, being an androgynous gay guy, I always got weird stares from these people. They scanned me totally from top to bottom to get to an opinion whether I was a male or a female. As most of them were illiterate and uneducated and mostly unaware of the LGBT terminology, they considered me as a Transgender.
Particularly in the North, I have faced this a lot, especially in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madya Pradesh, etc. As transgender is currently the third gender in India, all of these illiterates, consider people who are out of basic terms of male and female in the society with different dressing style or mannerisms, as Transgenders. It is still fine, but the place where the Rajasthan royals, especially the queens used to get safeguard by the eunuchs in the history, the oppression of Transgenders seem hypocritical. Forget about criticism, here the transgender community barely feels respected and honored.
It was disappointing to explore such bitter truth from Jaipur. As I was the visitor and I was in my elite, elegant and sophisticated way, traveled in cars with a cab driver, tour guide and other millennials who loved the way I was, I didn't feel much-criticized or judgmental. Because people used to zip their mouths when they found that I'm from a different state and most importantly, my personality spoke my money and status. I still feel disgusting to keep these terms in a phrase because humanity stooped down to the level where humans started respecting materialistic values than emotional values.
Though I presented myself as an open and proud gay guy with all my boldness, I felt the rigidity in Jaipur because of the mindsets of a few people. I still remember my guide warning me not to wear thigh fit shorts when if I wanted to roam alone. But fortunately, I was with these guys who protected me all the time. There were many incidents where the tourists from various states have laughed, criticized, passed weird comments while I was exploring all the places in Jaipur. And that was one of the reasons, I went with a bodyguard to Amber Fort and I remember, he was slaying people with his blood-red eyes when someone used to stare at me weirdly. Those moments made me feel like a queen, but indeed I was so pissed off and irritated with the fact that a queer person couldn't even explore a place without getting judged or criticized or just treated as a walking joke!