A Strange Old Bird Am I

the mouse that roared's picture

I just don't know about life sometimes.

I was closeted last year, for the first time in five years. I was abroad in one of the most conservative and traditional cities in India. I told myself, I won't let my queerness stop me from going and seeing what I will! I refuse to be limited!

I was closeted last year, and I moved to Smallcity India worried that I would lose myself. I had no idea what would happen to me, putting myself back in there. I came to India feeling Oppressed, knowing that So Many People in America Hate Me Just Because I'm Me, Doesn't That Suck? I had mostly given myself my own shit for being queer when I was a teenager; hadn't gotten more than a tidbit of crap from anyone else. I didn't really have a lot to complain about, but there were my feelings all the same.

Then I got there, and everyone wanted to know if I had any children yet, and when I was getting married. No, and I'm marrying after my studies. I knew no women that went out on their own without accompaniment or at least covering their head. A guy rode on his bike behind my rickshaw, jerking off and making grotesque faces. A four-year-old catcalled me. A crew of ten-year-old-boys danced around me, saying "Crazy Girl, Crazy Girl, Crazy Girl!" Everyone asked me for money. And I had been worried about my queer identity? Being a woman was the hard thing. No one was queer here. Sure, there was the attraction, but not the social category. So, celibacy. Hasn't been a huge problem yet, given the astronomical number of people I've dated.

I have since realized that it sucks more to be married to a drunkard that beats you, especially if you'd rather kiss a girl but have no publicly-acknowledged context for pursuing that. I have also realized that expressions of queerness in this country are just that--societally located expressions, with their own meanings for sure, but not the be-all end-all of orientation. This helped me feel less Smith pressure to Fit In To The Queer Mold.

In October of my junior year, my queer identity popped. I haven't seen that bubble return, although I still know my orientation. A month earlier, less than a month into my nine months in India, I paced around my room, trapped. Six months in, I broke down completely. I couldn't be a Good Hindu Girl, I couldn't anymore! Finally I started to make friends, finally started to have a good time and adjust. And then my year was over.

I am falling for a guy friend of mine I've known for five years. I haven't fallen for a guy since I was fourteen, which was--wait, seven years ago! And then I didn't think about sex, really; I was pretty innocent. Now I'm like, sex, what, penis? (Full disclosure: I've never slept with anyone at all, but penises seem more alien to me.) And I haven't told him I'm dying inside for him. I talked with him for two hours today, and I love talking to him. I heard him mumble something as we were discussing pheromones, just in theory, you know, and I can't tell what it was. I think I heard, "No offense, but you're smelly." That can't have been it, though! That would have been a strange thing to say, because I shower.

What is going on with my life? Who am I? Am I a Good Hindu Girl? How does one make out when there are no breasts--is foreplay just a lot faster? Am I capable of sucking cock? Does said owner of said cock think I'm smelly? Do I really have to talk to all those arrogant, asshole men once I graduate, instead of choosing only the nice ones to let into MY space? Do I avoid men because I'm at a women's college and so they're easy to avoid or because the majority were such assholes in India, or because I've realized that so many of them are domineering in America or... who knows? Since I'm not a lesbian, and I have always told me this, what does this make me if I crush on a guy? A man-hating Kinsey-scale-5 with sometimes-genderqueer leanings, attempting to love a guy? It's just--I'm so used to fantasizing about women at this point. It just seems normal, sensible, safe, beautiful, home. Throwing a penis in there, even a penis of someone I like very much, kind of makes things different. No! I refuse to have an identity crisis! Impossible!

On another note, I got a new bra for the first time in at least three if not five years. This is because my friend earlier had asked me if I was wearing a bra when I was. It cost too much money and it was the only one in the store that fit--apparently I'm three sizes bigger than I thought. It is red and lacy, but it was the only one that fit. The weird thing is is it has this strange effect on me. Wearing this bra makes me feel sexy a lot of the time, and makes me want to go and buy more feminine clothing, and learn what this whole hair styling thing is about.

I am, perhaps, confused.


niks121997's picture


Nice to hear from you. :) Your visit to India had to have been a wonderful and illuminating experience. Reading about your thoughts and experiences there called to mind the inevitably intense power of culture and societal mores to partially structure one's perspective and way of moving in the world. In India, you said sexual orientation categories weren't prevalent (which is congruent with the little I have read-I need more knowledge), but now you are back in a culture that for the most part tries to locate human experience (and material reality too) in a dichotomous label-laden fashion. Despite the growing research indicating sexuality and gender expression are continuums, the standard five type classification system remains in society at large: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual. So obviously the message is you need to fit congruently into these rather socially created categories. And then there are subcultures that challenge mainstream society, and people are faced with all these options and opportunities when it comes to things like forging an identity for example (or better- expanding and evolving one's identity). This makes life no less confusing, which is hard at times since life is confusing by nature. Yet...we have the power to create the life we want for ourselves (within reason), and that can be a sort of relief.

I'm sorry for going on and on. Basically, that was a long winded way of saying we seem to be living in a society that does it's best to limit and constrain human experience in certain areas. That leaves room for a ton of confusion, questioning, frustration, etc. when life presents with something that is new to how we typically think of ourselves. But one of the beautiful things of being human, at least in my opinion, is our ability to continuously grow and change the way we relate to ourselves and the world. So...hooray for the bra that has brought strange effects and a different (maybe?) way of seeing yourself. And your guy friend- no matter what ends up happening there- well, I see that as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and not in the oh my what does this mean about my sexual identity kind of way. I tend to view things in general but especially those that call into question the apparent "truths" of ourselves into question as ways to learn more about oneself and the world in this moment. So maybe this guy can help you learn what it is to relate to a man who isn't necessarily domineering, arrogant, etc. and what possibilities that might bring overall.

I hope this made some sense especially since I apparently can no longer be nice and succinct in my words.

elph's picture

Just to say...

I liked this fragment:

"...we seem to be living in a society that does its best to limit and constrain human experience in certain areas"

Offered, however, with one correction. :)

niks121997's picture


Usually I'm mindful of grammar. Ha. Thank you for the correction.

the mouse that roared's picture

I don't mind long posts at

I don't mind long posts at all! I certainly posted one.

I agree with you on an intellectual front, and I thank you for reminding me that I make my own world, and that there are lots of opportunities for growth outside my own box. I am not so worried about my identity as much as the idea of physically being with a guy--I dunno how it'll work for me or not, since I've never done more than kiss a guy, and that was one I wasn't interested in. If I do end up dating this friend, though, maybe there'll be some bumps on the road, but I'm not too worried about physical attraction. More of the angsty confusion is reconciling the part of me that still lives in India with the part of me that still lives in the US, as their feet are planted in quite different worlds.

Even that, though, has shifted in the past few days. I just came back from a second monthlong trip, and one of the hardest things to deal with there was that it was still hard. Easier in some ways, but I didn't suddenly have all the answers to the daily challenges I faced--people seeing me as an instant bank and a porn movie, mostly, no matter how good my Hindi is, how I act and dress. Also, some people I valued a lot as good friends while I was living there and working to make it my home didn't seem like such good friends when I returned--some trying to take advantage, for the most part, and some closeness that I must have imagined last year, because my social life seemed less rich upon my return. That was hard. This time, while I was there I didn't feel stuck in the gender roles of Banaras, I just acted them out, wore them like any costume needed to get through the day, as an obviously appropriate and necessary way to act. But when I returned, all of this hit me and I reeled. I'm never going back to India! Maybe this is not true, but it feels good to think that now. Just a few days ago, this struggle that I would not let up in myself--Good Hindu Girl vs. Child of Hippies Queer--ceased, at least for the moment. I told myself I didn't have to go back, and I am who I am how I am when I am, and all of that is OK, not right or wrong, but OK.

I think I'm back in America now. Not entirely, but I've stepped off the subcontinent, bringing whatever hanging bits of self have been living there with me. All my desi self is poking around me like spaghetti, cut away and waiting to be reformed. I'm out of India now, at least for the moment.

I do hope I get to date this guy. He's the only really good person I've been into, and that will be good for me, and I think for my overall wariness of men in general. If not, he's a good friend too... I guess, but he'd do better as a lover.

Thanks for listening to more rambling! I don't know what's gotten into my keyboard lately. It's good to hear from you, too. How's life going?

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin

niks121997's picture


It'd be new territory to engage in physical activity of that sort with a guy. I know if I were in your shoes, I'd be uncertain. Even though I know anatomy and the logistics, it'd feel awkward for me at first. What I'm going to say is going to be a radical simplification of what you're describing, but it seems very much like a culture divide in the treatment and viewpoint of women and gender between India and the US. Perhaps in India the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) negativity and stigma (and all those concepts) women experience in the US are less hidden and more blatant. Gender roles seem more rigid, but I got the impression no matter how you behaved, thought, or acted around others it might never have been "good enough" so to speak. But I might be underestimating a wide range of variables here. How did you get the opportunity to go to India twice? I'm glad you've come to a sort of acceptance in the past few days. :)

Glad to hear more about your life. I've been doing okay- grad school and all the joy it brings. Sad how that is essentially my life in a sentence. Ha.