Published! (LGBTQ Workspace in India)

Hey guys,

So one of my most ambitious poetry projects got published on the website of an LGBTQ magazine based out of Mumbai, India. They’ve spent a lot of time coming up with some great artwork to go with my poems, you can check it out here.

All four parts of the poem are drawn from IRL experiences and people I met during my internship with an LGBTQ non-profit organisation based out of Mumbai, India. At first, I was a little skeptical about whether or not I’ll be able to do justice to my understanding of the issue, especially considering how sensitive it is. But the truth is that when it comes to personal stories, there really isn’t a right or wrong. And I’m glad I was able to capture the essence of my six weeks in a few hundred words.

Scroll down for reading the poem.

Feedback is appreciated, thanks!


Below is a four-part poem encompassing various aspects of an LGBTQ workspace from an outsider’s perspective.

Part 1 is about an unnamed protagonist and how those closest to him/her react once they find out that she/he will be working with people who identify as LGBTQ. It is an attempt to mirror the underlying bigotry and insensitivity that exists in the orthodox Indian society.

Part 2 is brief moment of introspection that welcomes the protagonist into the workspace.

Part 3 is about a particular deaf and mute employee who is trapped in the power play that goes on in the professional world – something that has nothing to do with identities and is consistent throughout the globe.

Part 4 is about the ambiguous use of washrooms in LGBTQ spaces.



PART 1

Growing up in a cisgender family
That treads lightly on issues
Relating to gender and identity
Is a living bubble of reality
Carefully warped to suit
Dimensions that were smaller
Than the palm of my hands.
So when I told my mother
That I would be spending
Every day
For a little more than a month
Under the guardianship of
Fellow colleagues who were not
Like Us
She asked me: Will there be men?
I understood what she meant
I had to move on and explain
That homosexuality was a realm
Of its own
And as an unfortunate outsider
It was my duty to attempt
To understand the oppressed
For what was the point of my privilege
If I did not choose to wisely transgress.

An awkward silence prevailed

 An uncomfortable chatter resumed
Families in India,
For they’re the only ones I know,
Are pretty good at avoiding conversations:
For days, we let the topic linger
I wish I had misjudged his eyes
When I saw a tear of shame
Trickle down my father’s face
“But he was always so wise”
I thought, with my pride vanishing
And an ailing curve in my spine.

For comfort I reached out

“So it works for gay people?”
An acquaintance asked
I nodded, giving up on
Explaining the politically correct
Terminologies vast.
He asked me if I’d have the
Opportunity to watch
One woman’s tongue
Patrolling the inside of
Another’s crotch.
My ticking point
Mid-conversation I stopped
Eyes red, choking on words,
Feeling aghast
He laughed, nudged, and
Asked me to relax for
Life was short.
I felt defeated, alas
Even though I’d only
Just entered a foreign battle
That was part of the
Ongoing Spectrum War.

Part 2

It was like stepping onto
A burning ground
Only the heat was in my head
And the fire soon cooled down
Into icicles – in my mind
I decided to contour shapes
Of Kindness from those that seemed
More aloof and unfamiliar
Until I realised that I was actually
The absconding culprit
A manifestation of stereotypes
And fears.

Part 3

On my first day of work
Approached me a man
With his shoulders bent inwards
And an unsure stance
The bottom ends of his trousers
Made of threads coming apart
But his smile is what kept
Most of us sane
From morning to dark.
He offered me tea
Three and a half times
A day
Three times approaching my desk
Fourth time I’d use my glance
And half-smile
To push him away
He was present to greet me
Every morning I decided to
Step in early
He mopped the floors
And threw out the trash
And cooked a hearty meal
Whenever asked.
It took me a good seven
Working days to understand
Why he fumbled and spoke
Words that seemed to be straight
Out of a toddler’s dictionary:
His speechlessness was a
Decision simply placed in his lap
Rendering him immobile in a world
Where static communication was
Bridging gaps.
His warmth was something
I took back with me
That, and the excess of sugar
He always put in my tea
Which I sipped regardless
Of what it was doing to me.
He refilled mugs of coffee
And waited to be beckoned
By those who sit in cabins ­–
O’ Prosperous beings
Helping others rise to their status.
Power Structure, my friends,
Is a wilderness of its own
Carefully marked out on boundaries
Of various Identities alone.

Part 4

Always comforted by binaries
So used to divisions of only Two
I found myself baffled when I
Entered the Ladies’ Room
And found a bunch of men
Forcing their wrists into bangles
Inappropriately sized for them
Bickering over the perfect sari
Fall, bending to pleat it well
My eyes met with confident
Apologies from their side
They snuck out with their
Identities carefully hidden
Underneath their tragic smiles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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