It’s the late 2000’s. The golden time. Let me paint you a picture, people around my age were in school. All we cared about was Pokemon’s, maybe midterms, and who won at rock paper scissors that day at school. My favourite chocolate was a coffee bite which cost me 1₹. Some kids had a Walkman, which I always thought was above everything else back then. I had a hand-me-down Motorola early edition phone and had all the new songs sent to me via Bluetooth. I would come back home and watch Zack and Cody on Disney and go out to play hide and seek with my childhood friends until our parents yelled at us to come to have dinner. After dinner, I would sit on the tank of my terrace listening to the radio and feel like I’m in a movie of my own. My most prized possession at that time was probably my first ever watch, it was a fast track, I felt so cool.
We were in our early teens and most of us were starting to develop crushes. First crushes. Well, weren’t they something? They were so sweet, so innocent. You were blissfully unaware. Someone would say their name and you would blush, you would daydream all day, spend all your time thinking of ways to tell them , wonder what your life would have been like if you both got together. Your friends and you would have code names for the ones you liked so no one would find out who you were talking about. Simpler times, right? We all had different stories of first crushes, for most of us, it is worth reminiscing, maybe even laughing over. For some, maybe not. At a time when a lot of my friends liked people of the opposite sex, there was this thirteen-year-old girl who had a crush on someone too, except she denied it. She didn’t want to read too much into it because she didn’t understand it. She was a girl who had a crush on a girl. That thirteen-year-old girl was me. It was 7th-grade summer, 8th grade was starting in two weeks. I couldn’t wait to see my friends again. My mom decided that I needed a math tutor, we found a math class to go to after school which was accessible from where we lived and that’s where I met my crush.
It felt like everything a crush would, but I denied it and called her a friend. I told nobody and just let the feeling pass. With time, not too long after, I had a crush on someone else, someone acceptable, someone of the opposite sex and I just called him my first crush. Like most others, I grew up in a conservative environment with strict rules and conditioning. It just made my life easy to not confront what I felt for her, whatever that was. Living in a society that conditioned us to believe only in heteronormativity and gender binaries, I had no exposure to anything else. There were rules on what a family looks like. We were told there was only one way to love. The uncomfortable truth is that everyone just naturally assumes that everyone we meet is cisgender and heterosexual because society is blatantly heteronormative. I wonder if only I had a more inclusive environment, maybe if I felt safe enough to have addressed those feelings then, I wouldn’t have had to deal with a weird sense of confusion and intrusive thoughts for years until I came out much later in my life. Nothing about me ever fit in this mould that society expected me to be. I laughed too loudly, I spoke my mind, I wore short skirts, I didn’t sit right, my grades weren’t great, I was always daydreaming, I was passionate and fought for what I believed in, I like more than one gender, romantically. A lot of them just labeled me a 'Rebel'. For the longest time, I truly tried to believe in a heteronormative life. I avoided years of harsh judgment from narrow-minded people who think there’s only one right way to love. Acceptance took time, it came with exposure, courage, a lot of painful memories, and seeing and meeting real-life people from the LGBTQ+ community.
I wish that thirteen-year-old girl had someone like her to look up to, someone to help her understand. I wish she had a non-judgmental space to speak her truth, someone to relate to her voice. She felt unheard, unseen. She was lost in the sea with no sense of direction. Eventually, she found her way and I’m writing this to others who felt or feels the same way, it doesn’t matter whether you are out, whether you are questioning, whether you are still in the closet, I want you to know that heteronormative culture is a lie. Know that there are, have been and will be people like you. There will be people who accept you and love you just the same if you ever choose to come out. Everything you are feeling is valid and normal.
The beautiful thing about being queer is, it’s such a vast spectrum. You don't need to fit. Whatever you choose to identify as, whoever you choose to love, even if you’re figuring it out, it’s okay. You are valid.
I’m cisgender and bisexual.
My pronouns are She/Her.
This is Varshini Raaj signing out.