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“Bullied For My Sexuality, I Embraced Fashion as Freedom”

“Fashion gave me the confidence to embrace my sexuality.”

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LGBT
5 min read
“Bullied For My Sexuality, I Embraced Fashion as Freedom”
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The year was 1995 and I was a 4-year-old boy born into a Sikh family in the heart of Lajpat Nagar.

Obviously, I had long hair like any other Sikh boy and I was raised around 5 sisters. I think the feminine influence was so strong that it got to me!

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(Photo Courtesy: Tejeshwar Sandhoo)

I don’t quite remember cross-dressing a lot. I do remember wearing my Grandma’s kurta a few times and my sisters’ dresses, but that was it.

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While growing up, I couldn’t really fit into a lot of clothes thanks to my friendship with the ice cream guy at Nirulas. So it was mostly buying a pair of jeans from the adult section and having them altered to my size.

Every boy goes through a phase when he is bullied and roughed about, but for a gay guy, it can be a bit extreme.
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(Photo Courtesy: Tejeshwar Sandhoo)
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On Being Bullied

The thing about being gay is that you will always know, and I did.

Being in an all boys’ school was more or less uneventful. Every boy goes through a phase when he is bullied and roughed about, but for a gay guy, it can be a bit extreme. But I was always the “I-don’t-care-what-you-think-about-me” sort of a person, so it never really got to me. The other kids’ comments didn’t make me feel bad about myself, or apologetic about who I was at all.

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(Photo Courtesy: Tejeshwar Sandhoo)

On Finding My Sexuality

By the time I was 16, I finally came to terms with who I was and to whom I was attracted. The thing about being gay is that you will always know and I did. Back then it was sort of a taboo, and still is.

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(Photo Courtesy: Tejeshwar Sandhoo)
The interesting thing is that when I actually realized I was into men, a whole different air of confidence took over me which in turn had an impact on the way I dressed up and presented myself.
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On My Experiments with Fashion

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Photo Courtesy: Tejeshwar Sandhoo)

Fast forward to the year 2016 – I’m one of India’s recognised menswear bloggers now.

But this transition – from an ugly duckling to a queer style inspiration – was quite dramatic. The interesting thing is that when I actually realised I was into men, a whole different air of confidence took over me, which in turn had an impact on the way I dressed up and presented myself. I lost quite a lot of weight in order to be “presentable”, and suddenly my wardrobe was full of floral printed shirts and hues of pink – stereotypical, but true.

I had a hard time fitting in with college mates and in Pilot school because I was still discovering myself, was figuring out who I was. My experiments with fashion had just begun.

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My Parents and Their Reservations with My Style

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My parents were, and are still, not quite okay with a lot of things – including my sexuality, but then again we’ve never pushed each other’s limits.

I think my father has had some moments where he hasn’t been comfortable with my evolving fashion sense. For example, if I’m wearing a hat, he doesn’t want me to go out with him, or even walk with him till the car! My mother doesn’t approve of me wearing a vest with a shirt because apparently, “women do that”, and shopping from the women’s section is still a strict no-no from my sister, because we end up picking the same clothes! Last year, I picked a pair of oversized torn denims from the women’s section at Zara. Turns out, my sister had the same pair!

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(Photo Courtesy: Tejeshwar Sandhoo)
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On the Interconnectedness Between Sexuality and Fashion

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I think sexuality and fashion are two sides of the same coin. Most of the queer influences have always been fashion rebels, be it Madonna with her iconic conical bra or Lady Gaga with her eccentric style. Perhaps that’s because a member of the LGBT community is just that – a rebel in real life, especially in a country like India. And I feel that the way we dress and present ourselves infuses a sense of confidence in us, which cannot be described. For example, if my trousers are not printed or torn, I do not feel confident. They are almost like second skin to me.

(Photo Courtesy: Tejeshwar Sandhoo)
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There is a sense of empowerment and liberation that fashion tends to offer.

Embracing your feminine or masculine side is something very few of us have the courage to do. I encourage the men of today to go out and experiment with their clothes till they find their voice, which is so important. Although metrosexuality as a concept did get introduced in India, most of society still translates it as an “equivalent of being gay” and hence, doesn’t approve of it much.

(Photo Courtesy: Tejeshwar Sandhoo)
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All I can say is that the men and women who are a part of the LGBT community in India must embrace who they are and accept themselves in order to move forward in life and achieve what they want. And if experimenting with fashion brings about an inner revolution within them, then there is nothing better!

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Topics:  fashion   style   Gay 

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