Me: Amma, why don’t I have hairy arms and beard like other boys?
Amma: That’s because they have fast growing hormones.
Growing up, I didn’t understand my body at all. I didn’t understand why I had acne or keloids. All I wanted to do was hide these scars. Throughout my life, I have never been proud of showing my scars. I never wore sleeveless shirts. Covered my body as much as I could. I was ashamed of these scars. I would say that this is my body but if anyone mocked me, I would curl up in my burrow. Those were the years of hiding myself from body shaming. Many gay men thought that I was suffering from an incurable disease. Though, I tried to educate them, they stuck to their assumptions and conclusions. Eventually I stopped being bothered. I’m a performer but I hadn’t accepted my body for it was.
But something happened that changed my attitude towards my own body. I was given the opportunity to bring in the New Year 2017 at HummingTree Bangalore. Looking back, I now see that it was also an opportunity to bring home a new me into a New Year. I was invited to showcase Mayamma’s performance along with my drag family, Rimi heart (my drag daughter) and Sweta who was ready to be a drag king. The night was going to be splendid and I knew it already. But, I was worried about my wardrobe, sound glitches, the audience not being impressed with my performance.
Thanks to my inhibitions about my body, Mayamma world lengthy blouses which made me look like (forgive me if I’m politically incorrect) a crossover between between a prostitute and a grandmother. I had to change that because it wasn’t just about Mayamma but also me accepting myself. It was also important for me to accept my body as a performer. Besides, change is inevitable. My dear friend Ally Matthan from The Registry of Sarees and Dimpy from Kallidora were ready to help me out with this. Dimpy is a woman with a beautiful vision. Putting that vision to work, she crafted my blouses. I opened up to her and told her that I have keloids. She heard me and waved the wand. Viola! Her work on the beautiful blouses and the Madhuri Dixit costume was mind blowing! Her designs made me realise my strength. It was my sexy back. Dimpy made sure that I flaunt my sexy back whether be it in a kasuvu saree or a lehanga.
Rehearsals were done. It was showtime. Ajin on my makeup and Dimpy on my costumes, worked their magic. Maya was ready to serve her final illusion on stage for 2016. The show was a hit and I felt the adrenaline rush that I longed for. It was time came for me to leave Humming Tree for the night and go back home when my drag daughter, Rimi Heart spoke, “Mama, you have created history in the Indian LGBT community. You are a tower of inspiration. Please don’t listen to any of your haters and don’t give up. It’s because of you, I have started to perform drag.”
I didn’t realise it but I was in tears. Perhaps, this is how strong people let it go. I had had so many breakthroughs that night. I cried because my hard work was finally getting recognized. I cried because I was no longer ashamed of my body. I cried because I wasn’t bound to anyone but myself. I cried because I was loving me for just being me. Finally! Happy New Year everyone! Let’s celebrate and love each other. That’s what we all deserve.
Alex Mathew is a performer, famously known as Maya, the drag queen. He focuses on bringing about issues related to individualism, feminism and gender equality under the spotlight. Apart from that, he loves to entertain people in his spare time.