Upasana is a woman Bullied within her own community.
In her own words, Upasana Dandona tells the story of her experiences with bullying during college. Many in the LGBT+ community do experience bullying in school, college, and in the workplace. Although I don’t celebrate Pride Month, I believe she has a right to speak about her experiences and she has a right to be heard. I may not share the same beliefs as someone else but it doesn’t mean I’m okay with them being bullied and I’m inclusive to people of all races, nationalities, religions, and orientations. Here’s Upasana’s story as she addresses the in-bullying in her community and speaks out about the bullying she suffered:
“I consider myself extremely lucky for having grown up as one of those Indian queer kids who did not get bullied or shamed. Even though my boarding school was extremely conservative and my family didn’t know of any other queer person apart from me, the ones around me still understood the fact that my desires weren’t too different from their own.
I can never forget how much my heterosexual peers and family members had encouraged me after I had shared a poem with them about my sexuality. Even now, my mother re-posts that poem whenever it shows on her ‘Facebook memories’.
The person who did, in fact, make me feel vulnerable was someone who was themself queer when it came to both their gender and sexuality. This pride month, as my college life comes to an end, I feel the need to mention that I was emotionally and mentally wounded by that person, but never had it in me to talk about it openly because I was too scared – scared of being gaslit by their queer friend circle into questioning my own narrative, scared of being dismissed by my partner(s), scared of being told that I am not ‘queer enough’ (all of these, by the way, have happened numerous times). I would like to specify that, I am, in no way, equating someone’s problematic conduct to their queerness.
I am simply talking about an isolated experience with one person whose social standing in the feminist and queer communities of my university played a huge role in them causing deliberate harm to me and them getting away with it multiple times.
But, what is queer feminism? Is it simply making fancy arguments in literature and sociology classes? Is it writing articles and essays for websites that focus on the rights of women and the LGBTQI+ community? Or is it just something that we can use to for our own professional growth while allowing cis het male oppressors to oppress those who aren’t as fortunate as us?
Everyone deserves the right to refer to themselves as feminists if they wish to. At the same time, anyone who identifies as queer is, in every way, queer. A person’s knowledge about feminist and queer theories or their involvement in multiple social movements does not give them the right to act as if they have a monopoly over feminist and/or queer identities. Something that people often forget while talking about queerness is that it is all about allowing people the freedom to be who they are without forcing them to alter their personalities in any way. While I respect and secretly envy those who have been able to embrace their genders and sexualities, I also feel that a person who has not been able to do so does not deserve to be treated as ‘less than’ within the community.
We are all queer, no matter what a few pseudo-feminists try to make us believe. Coming back to my experiences, when I had joined university, I was too closeted to be true to myself with respect to my sexuality. Perhaps, that was because I did not have the courage to stand up to a few cis men who constantly told me that ‘I didn’t look like a lesbian’. In retrospect, I do realize that such comments are nothing but lesbophobic in nature. Nonetheless, back then, I had let people’s judgements and opinions influence my self-identity far too much. However, I was subconsciously conforming to those social norms as opposed to consciously choosing to silence the lesbian that lived in my body.
Conformity is not a choice, it is simply a person not knowing how to break free from certain shackles that stop them from realizing their true identity. Thus, when I think of how much and how ruthlessly I was belittled for not knowing the meanings of a few terms or not being able to stand up for my sexuality, I can’t help but call a few people unnecessarily obnoxious. Furthermore, when the same ‘woke’ people who were so condescending towards me over the smallest of things ended up encouraging cisgender men to harass me, I decided I had had enough.
I am grateful towards a lot of queer folks, however, I also have to admit that there have been some of them who have not only been complicit with cisgender men dehumanizing me, but have even gone a step further by taking an active part in making my life difficult, to put it as mildly as I can. To all the queer people who derive pleasure from disparaging the people of their own community, I want you to understand that purposefully victimizing the oppressed by supporting oppressors only makes you a pillar of the already existing cis-heteronormative patriarchy that you wish to dismantle.
If you’re using feminism to patronize those who need to be uplifted and
discarding it the moment you face a powerful cisgender man, then there is no one as hypocritical and as two-faced as you. I would like to end by telling all my fellow queers who feel out of place that you are as much a part of the queer community as anyone else who appears to blend in better. You are who you say you are and no one has the right to make you second-guess your identity.”