Living the Rainbow Dream

Living the Rainbow Dream

“I still remember how wonderful childhood used to be,

I could roam the streets, wearing flowers and humming sweet dreams.

I still remember wearing my elder sister’s frock, her anklets and earrings,

While being hugged by my parents with all the love.

I still remember my childhood when I could run freely,

Life wasn’t as tough, as growing up made me feel.

Today I hide my smile behind the thick moustache, I try not to hum the lines of that new song,

Lest they call me gay and cat call me in crowded malls.

Yet I dream, since nobody can gate crash the rainbow party I live in my dreams…

Yet in my dreams, I aspire to be living a life free of all those chained realities.”

Life wasn’t easy growing up in a Muslim household for the young boy who liked to be called ‘Fiza’. Which he does now, within the safe spaces occupied only by his friends. This safe space he found far away from his home, far away from his Abbu and Ammi; a space in the crowded city of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. He says the world is all black and white, yet he dared to dream in rainbow colours, and admires himself for hiding it so well from the people and friends he grew up with.

Fiza says that he always knew that he was different from the other boys while growing up, he liked to play with his sisters and wanted to help his mother. He did not really understand why that was a problem or that he was ‘different,’ until his father and brothers started berating him for spending too much time indoors, and too little outdoors. His sensitivity towards the world made him a shy boy — a boy, who unlike the other boys of the Mohalla, did not really know why everyone encouraged boys to be rough and tough, while the girls adhered  to notions of being couth and well behaved.

It was only during his puberty when the first pimple appeared on his cheek that Fiza realised that he would like being in the company of that new boy in the neighbourhood more than try and court girls. Fiza was scared that his affection would be misunderstood as aggression by that new boy; Fiza was afraid that if his parents came to know the truth, they would abandon him, and throw him out in the streets; Fiza was afraid that all his friends would turn their backs on him, and he will be like that loner boy, who, no one wanted to befriend; Fiza was scared that he will not be accepted for his rainbow dreams.

All these fears meant that Fiza firmly closeted his feelings, his first love, and he abandoned his dreams before giving anyone else the chance of abandoning his dreams.

Just like the seedling grows into a tree and faces the wrath of nature in entirety, Fiza grew up slowly and started experiencing his life and dreams. Soon Fiza found out about the Pride Parade, a parade which was joined by many who dreamed the rainbow life. Fiza realised he wasn’t alone in dreaming a rainbow life, like himself. There were many who wanted to break free and had found solace in the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex) community living dual lives in the city of Lucknow.

Though the Supreme Court passed a judgement in 2018 abrogating Sec 377 that criminalised gay relationships, the society continues to judge and discriminate. And members of the LGBTQI community continue to find succour only among their own groups and hesitate to come out. And so it was for Fiza, who at a residential workshop, earlier this year, organised by Oxfam India in Lucknow realised that sexual intersectionality wasn’t after all a taboo topic or a tarnished dream. Fiza finally found a stage to talk about his rainbow dreams. For the first time Fiza, openly recognised and introduced himself as a proud gay member of the LGBTQI community, he spoke of intersectionality with the boys and girls, and raised the ‘rainbow jhanda’ of the LGBTQI community.

To celebrate Pride Month, Fiza organised a small virtual get together on 12 June 2020, of all those who he had met in his life who shared a similar dream, the ones who never rebuked him for having rainbow dreams, and those who wished to be live lives free of forced heterosexual reins. They pledged to weave rainbow dreams together and raise awareness amongst everyone that no one is alone in dreaming a rainbow dream. That everyone who feels different and aspires to be somebody they are not allowed to be, be it because of patriarchy, or social pressure, or peer pressure or simply because they aren’t yet sure of what they want to be, all have a safe haven to fall back and the rainbow flag is being held by Fiza and his dream team.

Let’s raise this flag so high, that everyone can see the rainbow and not feel left out in their need to be felt love and being unique.

His charming message was, Sab Log Muskuraiyein, kyunki aap humaare Lucknow mein hai.”

(Dedicated to Fiza, BNS champions and the LGBTQ community of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh)

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