Unconditionally Yours: A Drag Queen and a Heterosexual Woman Complete Each Other
A trained classical dancer, Patruni Sastry has performed over 50 drag shows across India. This is their love story.
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Senior Editor: Shelly Walia
Editorial Inputs: Tridip Mandal
When Patruni Sastry aka 'Suffocated Art Specimen' met Rajeshwari at a family function in Hyderabad, little did they know that she will become their life partner, their safe space – a person who will love them for who they are.
It was Raji, as Patruni fondly calls her, who made the first move.
"I met them at a family function. I liked them immediately. I started following them on Instagram and my sister said Patruni posted dance videos. I started following them. But they looked different on their Instagram profile. There was no connection between classical dance and Instagram profile."Rajeshwari to The Quint
Once they both realised that there was mutual interest, Patruni wanted to come out as pansexual to Raji.
"I literally told her, see I am attracted to both men and women – beyond their gender. I am attracted to a man, woman, a trans person and a non-binary person. So, it was like a step-by-step process. I started with the easier definition and then to the hard definition."Patruni Sastry to The Quint
But there was no conversation beyond 'okay' from Raji. When she did not call Patruni for more than two days, they asked her if she wanted to "end things."
"When they called me, they were sounding tensed. I just asked them ‘So what?’ It doesn’t matter to me," a shy Raji told The Quint.
Patruni – One of Handful Drag Artists From South India
A trained classical dancer, and a software professional, Patruni came out as pansexual in 2018 – after the landmark 2018 Supreme Court judgment decriminalising homosexuality. In 2019, they started performing drag after witnessing a 'life-changing' performance in Bengaluru.
Since then, Patruni, who practises 'anti-beauty' drag, has performed over 50 shows across the country – and is one of the handful of drag artists from South India.
"When I thought of performing drag for the first time I was not getting many places to perform because the city didn't know it and people thought it was kind of a cheesy way for something that might not be appropriate. People have a lot of wrong notions about cross-dressing itself and drag being a part of it. You know, where there is an element of cross-dressing it is easy to judge that this is how it will look like. So, I think I went through that phase, of initially not getting platforms to perform. But I did my very first drag show in Hyderabad on 9 June 2019."
"On that evening, there were around 500 people from across age groups. There were queer people, allies who were sitting in front of us. You know the café was full. People were sitting on the ground. Around us, you know, there were glass corridors. People were watching it from other parts of the corridors. So, it went on for three-four hours and that was the very first response I got. Because the platform was wonderful, I wanted to take it even further in my city," Parruni said.
The Apprehensions Before Taking the Plunge
While Raji said "so what" when Patruni came out, there were apprehensions expressed by Raji's family. They wanted to know if she was okay with marrying a 'dancer.' But there was also 'hate' from social media when the couple announced their wedding.
Patruni and Raji got married in November 2021, and there has been no looking back since.
"I was performing in queer events, I was performing in drag. I was kind of going ahead and telling about my pansexuality. But when I said that I was marrying a heterosexual woman, people thought that I was hiding my 'gayness.' People thought that I was homosexual but closed and getting married because of parental pressure. Some people thought I was cheating on her and not telling her about my sexuality. Those were some of my apprehensions."
But the hate has barely stopped. Every time Patruni
"I take this hate, which is kind of given to me by society and what I do is I kind of churn it with my art and present it. If somebody is calling me homo, I will go and tell that this is how it looks like. If someone is calling me chhakka, I will talk about gender dysphoria. If someone is bullying me, I will talk about bullying."
But they maintain that it is the unconditional love by Raji that makes it possible for Patruni to continue to fight everyday stereotypes and hate.
"It is really important that there is somebody who knows, who helps me to be my authentic self. Who lets me be who I am. I am really thankful to the universe for giving me a partner like her who is the fire behind me to do things in a far more different way," Patruni said.
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