How does one ‘look gay’ or not ‘look gay’? Can a person’s dress sense determine their sexuality?
“But you don’t look gay, dude” or “I knew that you were gay. I just knew it.” These are two statements I have heard a lot ever since I came out on social media.
It’s confusing, big time. Almost makes my mind swing like a pendulum. It also makes me question how important looks can be in determining your sexuality or your persona.
I ask myself, am I not gay enough or am I too gay?
When I look back at myself and all the years I’ve spent understanding my sexuality, I understand how important it is to me — that it is an extension of myself, an expression of my identity.
Recalling my childhood days, I remember how I used to drag in my bedroom. I never shied away from myself, from my mother’s clothes or her makeup. I felt this is what I like, and it used to fill me with glee.
The best part was to dress up and dance to Bollywood songs. But all this while, there were no family members present in the room. The room was mine.
No questions were raised, no confusion was created. But today, if I bring back that 9-year-old me, I would be judged through every aspect of the heteronormativity paradigm. I will be called feminine and I would be ill-treated.
These thoughts and the everlasting struggle have made me lose some bits of myself. Once I was in a position where I could sprinkle some gay glitter upon someone, but I’ve reached a state where I am at the receiving end.
Today, I wait for events like the Pride Parade or for a gay party in Delhi. Where I will be showered with that gay glitter, which could bring back that ‘too-gay’ version of me, lost in the past.
Moreover, coming out sessions are never boring. With every new person, they get interesting. As the affirmation is given, I’m bombarded with questions like “Who else knows?”, “Does your family know?”, “When did you get to know?” Puberty, Berta, puberty. (Berta is a character in the sitcom the Two and a Half Men).
Like Berta, oftentimes the people around me also try to sneak in a good quip. They think they’re clearing the air. They’re not. They give me the benefit of the doubt. Whether I’m too gay for or not.
I cannot, in this position, call out others on their dress sense, but I think mine pleases those who fell from the bright rainbow and those who practice heterosexism.
It may be a confused state for others, but for me it is not. They say only you do you, so I do me, just like I do strangers in their bedrooms. Did I offend your heterosexism? Possibly, but some people certainly offended my essentialism.
I remember when many a times I wanted to buy a floral shirt, but I felt apprehensive about the obnoxious comments that would be passed. I used to think only gay men are known to wear floral prints.
Fortunately, I was proven wrong, but with the most horrendous beginning possible. I remember watching Scarface. In one scene, Al Pacino as Tony Montana, was carrying a gun while his face was mauled.
He was displaying the true signs of what they call ‘machoism.’ But he rocked that floral shirt.
I remember when one person, certainly not a homophobic, told me that she guessed about my sexuality because she saw my Facebook profile photo where I was wearing a dull orange floral shirt, which is my favourite shirt
I can recall my closest friends telling me that they got to know about me through the way I walk, gesticulate and my lifestyle choices. I say there’s nothing wrong in that. The more you’re gay, the merrier.
However, social constructs take time to break. To understand that there’s nothing like ‘too gay’ or ‘not gay enough.’ One can dress up like Elton John one day, and Ricky Martin the other.
While I’m finishing this piece, I’m astounded as to how I’ve lost that 9-year-old me, who liked to drag while eating Dairy Milk with one hand and applying blush with the other. Unlike the Barbie Dolls aligned on the dressing table at that time, people talk, and I hear them.