Dear Younger Self by Sunetro Lahiri

Storyteller and Host of the Podcast, GAYBCD

Did you know you could create magic? You can. I can. And I believe I do, every single day.

Now before you denounce me as a cocky, self-tooter, let me preface this by saying that there’s no one who can have a lower opinion of me than me. Yeah, that’s something my therapist and I have a gala time working through, believe me! But then, I digress. Coming back to that dreaded M word. Yes. I create magic. Sometimes potent, sometimes not so much. But I do, by weaving stories.

Speaking of stories… let me tell you one.That of a boy, a very different boy. A boy who preferred to follow stories of Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen being crowned with rapt attention over the victories of cricket and football his peers would celebrate.A boy who would rather let his fingers craft the perfect mudra than spin a perfect googly. A boy who saw himself equally in the soft masculinity of Aragorn as he did in the feisty femininity of Galadriel. Yes, Tolkien> Lewis + Martin + Rowling combined… Fight me on that!But coming back to this boy, while he struggled if he ‘stood out’ or ‘stuck out’, he came to one realisation… what makes him weird also makes for a very interesting story. And thus began a journey of discovery… of strength, of beauty, of queerness, and of self-love.

When you grow up queer or even different, you grow up with a constant companion – fear. Fear can cripple, but it can also fuel. So when I’d fear getting bullied, getting made fun of, I started remembering the adage, “This too shall pass.” Well, no one said it shall pass like a painful kidney stone, but that’s advertising I guess, they leave the dark parts out. However, in that fear, I began to acclimate. I found fewer reasons to tremble, fewer triggers to set my heart racing. If you want to make fun of me, guess what, I’ve already beaten you to it! And in that process, I realised the power of putting pen to paper. Writing about fears sort of undoes them. So I did. I wrote… poetry where I could, stories when I could, documentaries when I could, anecdotes when I could, and finally, a medium that allowed me to voice my authentic self – podcasting.

In this process, I realised how much of a difference simply a little visibility makes. It’s true… you simply can’t be what you can’t see and I believe the world needs to see more examples of out, queer individuals, the more diverse each example the better. Simply being an out, proud voice made me realise how being different is something others would give an arm and a leg for. There is immense power in a world where a boy doesn’t pick blue and the girl doesn’t just play with dolls… where a warrior can be a queen and a boy can be a princess. This is when I realised that in my differences, in all my weirdness, I was one of many such individuals meant to change the world, albeit in the tiniest of ways. And by putting my voice out there, I am saying just one thing – In a world full of single malts, I might be a flaming cosmopolitan. But, I AM ENOUGH. The only way you can silence all the voices telling you to be more aggressive, more manly, more emotionless, more conventional, is by being a voice that’s crystal clear and audible. And what does that voice say? BE YOURSELF, BECAUSE YOU ARE ENOUGH.

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