This was perhaps the first time, I have had a chance to understand and interact (though not directly), with someone who is openly queer/transgender. Some may not find it a significant interaction worth even mentioning or mulling over, but for me it was. It is not too often one comes across a person (especially of Asian descent) who candidly talks about her different sexuality, especially in India. More so when it is woman; gay men have it a little better, since the acceptance is there with a much wider segment of the society.
While we do have transgenders in the society, who are known as ‘hijaras’ in Hindi (one of the common local parlances in India), one does not get to interact as such with them-essentially because the interaction is not kindly looked upon and also because there are not too many transgenders who have been able to break the social class barriers in India.
Hence the evening of storytelling by D’Lo in one of the upmarket venues in the city, was different and evoked a multitude of emotions. Of course D’Lo being open about her/ his journey thus far, was also perhaps because he was born to Tamil Sri Lankan immigrant parents in USA.
From what I gathered from D’Lo’s personal storytelling session, which while eliciting quite a few laughs was poignant at the same time, was that it was a struggle, a constant deep struggle; especially with the immediate circle of love, the close family. This one-man storytelling show shares the joy of survival in a world, which is not too kind (that’s putting it mildly) to difference of any sort.
It was heart-warming to see, D’Lo get a thunderous applause post his performance; it made me believe that yes, there people out there who do not judge you for being different, that they respect the basic values of personal choice and freedom. No wonder he is touring major Indian cities, which includes even so-called-conservative cities like Kolkata and Chennai.
Even though I am straight, it was an enriching and humbling to know how D’Lo underwent top surgery (female to male transgender chest surgery) almost alone without any familial support whatsoever, and, eventually winning over the support of his strict parents. Yes, as you can see he shared a lot of personal coming-out-pain, but in a humorous light-hearted way. And no, it was not stand-up comedy at all.
The most poignant moment was when D’Lo ended his storytelling, by saying never give up on your loved ones: speaks a lot about the magnanimousness of a person who had contemplated suicide when he (she then) in teens because of family pressure. It was heartening to see no trace of bitterness whatsoever; it would have been so easy to be bitter given his tumultuous childhood.
Bjorn Borg’s words seem so apt here…
My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories.