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Pride Interview with Neha

Interviewer: Paakhi Maheshwari

Interviewee: Neha Mittal


Paakhi:

Can you explain to us your gender and or sexuality?

Neha:

I'm a cisgender woman and a lesbian. I usually use the term queer for questioning for my sexual orientation, but I'm pretty fine with the label for now.

Paakhi:

Why would you say that you're using the questioning thing?


Neha:

Because for a very long, I used to think of myself as a bisexual with the idea that I might be attracted to more than one gender/sex.


Paakhi:

Have you come out to your to society or your family with your sexuality?


Neha:

I am out to all my friends, but not my family.

Paakhi:

If you are comfortable with sharing: why haven't you told your family yet?

Neha:

Because I know, I have to sit with them and have an elaborate conversation with them and I'm not ready for that conversation yet. I have heard their opinion about the LGBTQIA+ community, I don't think they'd readily accept it. Because they know how the society works, so they will be very protective of me. So I need some time, maybe a few years to be square with that.

Paakhi:

Coming out is such a sensitive issue that anyone should do it according to their time, right? Not being forced to do something or even thinking that there's a correct time for coming out to anyone. How did your friends react to your coming out?


Neha:

I came out to my friends in the first year and they had a very normal reaction and they were all very supportive. I'm glad to have such a supportive peer group in my life.

Paakhi:

Were you ever afraid of anyone's reaction?

Neha:

Yes, every time I came out to my friends, I had this huge lump in my throat because I thought that they would suddenly not want to be my friend. But my friends made it less scary by being more acceptable and by being good allies.

Paakhi:

That's great. How has your experience been after you came out?

Neha:

It was a little scary at first, but as I started telling more about it, I became more comfortable. Coming out like coming out is not just a one-time thing, it’s a movement you mount every single day.

Paakhi:

What do you think about society right now? Are there positive changes? Or are there negative changes, regarding pride and the community?



Neha:

There are more positive changes than negative changes. We have more representation in the mainstream media. Recently a movie called Badhai Do was released. Dutee Chand came out as a lesbian. She is the first openly gay member of the sports community. People are more accepting of the community now.



Paakhi:

The biggest influence in society towards anyone would be the mainstream media. To those who don’t know, Badhai Do is a movie in Bollywood with a positive gay representation. It changed the perspective of many Indians at once. Was there any instance where anyone from the society/school had nullified your identity as a person who’s part of the community?



Neha:

This one time in school, our history teacher came into our class and that day Article 377 verdict was passed. So she asked if any of us knew about 377. And I was the only one who knew about it. So I explained it to everyone. The next period was lunch. And I can recall all of my friends, in a group, talking about how the whole concept of being gay is very ‘unnatural’ to them. I was not out then. I was just being an ally. So they had no idea that I was the imposter. So yes that impacted me a lot.



Paakhi:

So if someone does not know the pronouns, ideally, how should they approach the person?


Neha:

I like to tell my pronouns before I start a conversation. Mostly like, hey my name is Neha. My pronouns are she/her. Then I ask them their pronouns. And I have a friend with neo-pronouns, ‘ze’ ‘zir’, so I usually ask for the pronunciation. They’ll just know and appreciate that you’re trying to educate yourself and you’re being an ally.



Paakhi:

What was the most ideal response you received when you came out to your friends, or what is the most ideal response that one could receive?


Neha:

When someone comes out to you, thank them for trusting you with it. And assure them you would never tell people about it unless you had their consent. Give them the reassurance that their sexual orientation or gender identity would have no effect on your friendship.


Paakhi:

How should a person react to transphobic or homophobic jokes?


Neha:

These come from a place of lack of knowledge. Try to confront them and educate them.



Paakhi:

Is there anything special that you do for the pride month?


Neha:

There's nothing that I do exclusively. But in social places, start by sharing your pronouns and begin conversations. Have conversations, and try to be more accepting of everyone. Spreading awareness is the key to celebrating pride because the purpose of pride month is to spread awareness.


Paakhi:

Is there anything that you would like to tell the readers of this interview?

Neha:

Once a person comes out, the world becomes a more beautiful place to live. Coming out is a journey, it's not just a moment. I just hope that people get more accepting and that together we make this world a better place to live in.


Paakhi:

Yes, yes. I really hope so too. This world will be a much more beautiful place if everyone felt happier and were included in everyone's single conversation and were exposed to every single opportunity regardless of their identity.



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