The ‘Silent L’ of LGBTQ Needs A Strong Voice - LGBTQ Rights Activist Akassh K Aggarwal
The common people know him as 'Gay Designer' based in New Delhi who is 'trying to make a mark' in the world of Jewellery Designing via his venture Shubhashini Ornamentals. But for the fashion world, he is already a celeb designer, whose sexual orientations are of no importance, since his work speaks for itself.
For the society he is a GAY MAN from the conservative by-lanes of the Old Delhi, to be precise the Chandni Chowk, who is just another they would love to ignore. But for himself, who is Akassh K Aggarwal?
He identifies himself: "I realized at a very early age that my kind of 'feminine boys' are called Gay, so I just un-wishfully took this tag to my identity. With passing time, self-realization dawned at me, I explored and discovered myself being gay! At the same time, I read this book about gender identity. And I now strongly believe that whatever be the call of the people, I am the real life, but a mortal depiction of "ARDHANARISHVARA” the combination of the best. And this self-realization has changed a lot within me… I became more OUT LOUD and OPEN of my Identity ……and the journey is on. How? Let's put it in Akassh's words...
"Mahima, in professional space like all entrepreneurs, I am looking forward to expanding internationally. But in my personal life, I look forward to raise and work on the LGBTQ ISSUES, especially LESBIAN issues. You must be thinking why? Because like the W (women) of the so-called normal world, the L (Lesbian) of the LGBTQ is SILENT...
And this last line gave me the fodder for this interview to be taken up with Akassh, who has kind of triggered a different kind of battle, which will go a long way. But before we come straight away to the point, I let Akassh unfold his life as a gay boy first...in order to understand why he wants to rake up this battle for the betterment of the L in the LGBTQ community.
And Akassh starts telling his childhood's story,
"My family played a very important part in my growth as a professional as well as an LGBTQ identity I am of today… raised by liberal humanitarian and empathetic parents, it was a complete blessing to me which makes me understand every person on a human level beyond its gender religion or race.
I spent good 20 yrs of my life in the conservative by-lanes of Delhi-6 (old Delhi) that made me understand the pain of the victims of the society in terms of being marginalized due to their feminine or masculine orientations. I saw women being abused, tortured or vindicated by the patriarchal mindset; I saw all this from close quarters. And in turn, I felt blessed to be living a life of my own choice, despite being a 'feminine boy.' My parents and my two elder sisters have been the primary source of my support and happiness.
In my formative years of life, I was raised by a father who was a first a friend first with whom I could share anything under the Sun - be it speaking out a bitter truth or discuss issues that plague the society. We often had a deep conversation at the dining table, where we could speak our heart out to our parents. Apart from being liberal, my family is very secular that enjoyed Diwali, Christmas and Eid alike. My strong roots made me the person I am today,"
Akassh just goes on living his childhood through the words as I look at him with a smile,
"At the age of 16, I realized I had no interest in the opposite sex in terms of attraction. My femininity was embracing me, but I was not sure of it as I hardly explored my identity when at school. So with passing time, I took on professional studies. I knew about my, identity. But I wasn't very outspoken about it as I was on the path of self-discovery and acknowledging myself, acknowledging my identity. with due course of time, I began meeting people during my personal and professional expansions in life, I began doing different adventurous things in life. And I being a simple gay boy from a conservative joint family system was all about this WOMAN IN ME!"
And then with a twinkle in his eye, Akassh jumps at his seat and with a chuckle adds,
"Times have changed for the better. From an India with an identity crisis for the LGBTQ, we now have become an Indian where the scrapping of Section 377 has become a historic decision by the honorable Supreme Court. It is one of the most progressive judgments in the human rights context in independent India. The issues in 'our community' are as complex as any other issue - the choice marrying a person of your own choice, legal live-in rights, child adoption, financial independence, and so on and so forth. I know the very conservative Indian Society will take a long time to accept this ruling, but the change has begun."
But Akassh doesn't stop here,
"Mahima, how many Lesbian women have you interviewed before?" I had no answer to this since none of the ones I wanted to had agreed for the same. And that's where Akassh intervenes.
"That's exactly, what my point is. Just like the W (women) of the so-called normal world, the L (Lesbian) of the LGBTQ is SILENT... And that's what my mission in life is, to fight for the right, for the unabated voice, for the self-realization of power, within these Lesbian women whose life is more pathetic than those of the so-called normal society. L IS NOT SILENT, IT IS BEING KEPT SILENT, similar to the W," and I can feel a sense of rage in Akassh's voice, the growl of a Tigress on the prowl to hunt down the one who has hurt her clan members. Akassh goes on, " The patriarchal legacy and lineage never let a female come out of her identity - an identity that considers her the only source to reproduce! In the land of the Kamasutra, the terms such as orgasm or female penetration or even women rights to be sexually satisfied have never been a point of conversation, let alone be a right. Women are simply taught to be the service provider and legs spreading was the only duty and obligation that a woman has to do in the process of lovemaking!"
From a feminine boy, Akassh seems to have transformed into a warrior woman who is out to seek justice, "Any of HER expectations from a Man was often considered as a dominance or bad character… so in situations like these HOW WOULD U EVEN KNOW WHAT BEING A LESBIAN CAN BE, YOUR ROLE WITH THE ROLE OF NATURE IS ALL EQUATED TO JUST REPRODUCE!"
"Mahima, let me share the life-instance of a close friend of mine. She is in her early 40s; is a married and now a divorced mother of two boys. And on one Sunday evening break, she broke her silence, identifying herself as a LESBIAN. For the next few hours, we discussed her journey as an independent, free-thinking woman. But the woman was afraid to talk about her sexuality. She is so done with her fight against this so-called MORAL, SOCIAL and even a financial crisis (due to her much looked-down-upon lifestyle) that she decided to stay silent about her identity. But certainly, she was in mental agony.
Confused….uneasy and in dilemma to what to do next… live a silent coward life… or be out Loud and be open about it and Embrace herself. So what is bigger was her choice to make PEACE WITHIN or make THE SUPERFICIAL PEACE OUTSIDE ….which harasses her own-self emotional, physically or even financially. And for such women, I wish to make a difference. I wish to lead them to a path, where the must realize that, 'If you want to break barriers, then the patriarchy will test u like never before. And you being silent will only worsen your cause, your identity, your values. Trust me, the price of you coming out in an age when India positively addresses the most influential human issues. Come out and accept yourself. The journey of self-acknowledgment is very empowering and assuring of the much peaceful way to fight all anti-human elements,” asserts a very positive Akassh.
Here shake Akassh back to reality since not all have had a liberal upbringing like him. I believe, the step must also come from the outspoken and strong ones of the LGBTQ community. So what does Akassh think - how does the LGBTQ community must progress to make the L - LOUD ENOUGH to be heard to generate a positive, desired response?
"See it's not just a Community issue it’s an absolute HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE. And it's also an individualistic journey of self-acknowledgment and standing for its rights and coming out. Post the scrapping of Section 377, in context to LGBTQ, the people of the community have to come out and normalize the existence; the more the LGBTQ women come out of their closets, the easier it will be for others to follow suit. It's' supporting and strengthening each other," Akassh opines.
Akassh knows that what he wants to happen will be a very slow progress, so he lays down the plan, on which he would like the L to come out from being SILENT to become LOUD:
"Mahima there are three things that the women from the LGBTQ women must be encouraged to do:
- Come Out & Talk about their issues and talk to people who matter to you in context to Human Rights that are being denied to you.
- Let them know u are one of them, despite being a little unique. Make them understand with patience as it's OK to be who you are. Give them the time - answer each and every question they ask with patience since their mind which is left sick by patriarchy will take time to realize the reality of life. It is also OK if they refuse to understand since that is not unusual in India. But the conversations must begin. Because always remember GOD ALSO HELPS THOSE, WHO HELP THEMSELVES! Take charge, because only one powerful woman can ensure the empowerment of others. And internal support from the community matters a lot.
- Create groups of women from the same tribe and discuss to resolve their issues - micro-level connections and networking will help you allot to discuss out and find a solution to what's troubling you as a Lesbian. Also when you get support from people, you become more vocal about your rights. We have to create such forums and places of counseling and guidance for the community to embrace their lost or rather buried identity."
And I remind Akassh that he has never been vocal about it himself with any other media, that his own social media timeline. Akassh laughs aloud, "Not everyone has the guts to ask the right questions like you, in media today. If they had asked, I would have been happy to talk about it. I am thankful to you and SHEROES - despite being a women-only platform, you guys are real change makers! Kudos."
I blush with the compliment, but at the same time feel sad, about the plight of the Lesbian Community. And he pats my hand with empathy, "Don't be sad my friend, rather be ready to bring about the change for their better.
The only way THEY can shake off the shame that is being weighed to them by the society is by NOT ACCEPTING THE SHAME hands down! All the sane ones, we all have to join hands to help them CLAIM Their IDENTITY, claim their story....if not now, then when?" asks Akassh.
So besides fighting for the rights of the Lesbian women, what will be Akassh doing next?
"Well Mahima, I am really left inspired by the women coming out and speaking up - the #MeToo protest. It really takes guts to do that. So my upcoming collection that will be staged in March 2019 will be dedicated to “coming out” - an event for and about each women coming out of the victim zone to be in the warrior zone! And shifting that shame to the predator. I idolize each such woman with courage - there are moments of patience, there are stories of victory… and there are stories that leave you inspired for life - and this drives me ahead…. I seek strength from them all," as Akassh winds up a very-hitting, extensive interview he smiles and leaves us, sharing a deep wish he nestles in his heart, " I wish to adopt a baby girl soon. And I am sure all your readers will come out in support and pray for me."
If Akassh's determination has moved you, don't forget to share this piece in your circle.
S*****What is LGBTQ Community?
S*****What is OH BTW Community
A*****Hi @Mahima myself is a huge fan of LGBTQ community. As i was reading i can relate to the issues face by them and how people judge them. I dont agree with the traditional mindset of the people and how they try to control it by customary laws relating to some stupid article defending the state. I myself is a straight Leo woman but when it comes to LOVE its gender freeeeeee. Everybody deserves to love and to be loved. I cant stand the tradional silly old bags to comment on passerby just because they are gay. Anyways keep up the good work much appreciated for sharing your article. And please excuse my writing skills.
D*****hi. good job
P*****Hi Mahima, I want to contact to you.