Let me start with my memories or first experience with people who are a part of LGBT community, that is transgenders. As a kid I remember I feared transgender. Because when you are kid, you see everything with your curious eyes. You tend to believe what you are told. I don’t remember who told me this, but I was told that they are bad people and cursed to be the way they are. But my idea about them changed when I actually met and spoke to them. Once I was travelling in a train with my parents and we came across some transgender women who were our co-passengers. They were so warm; they even offered us their seats. That made me realize that they are not the cursed or the bad ones, but the ones who lie about them and make us believe those lies are.
#377 was trending last year. Section 377 according to which se*ual activities against the order of nature was illegal. It was a joyful day for many souls out there. Who are ‘different’ from the ‘normal’. We saw so many people posting their stories, pictures of people who had happy tears. They were finally free to be who they are, free to love.
My Facebook feed was flooded with people changing their display pictures to rainbow colored one. (I am sure your feed was also colorful while 377 was removed.) Everyone out there were posting and sharing “Love is love”. But I want to tell you, sharing the slogans or changing the display pictures is not going to change much to LGBT community. Accepting the fact that “A human is a human irrespective of their choice of living” is something will do.
Mygirlypedia came across one of these beautiful souls while scrolling through the Instagram feed. Ms. Krishnan Balaji (Bala).
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“I was in class 6 when I realised I was different. I was drawn towards ‘girly’ things–I never played sports & hung out with girls. People began making fun of my behaviour, gestures & my walk. They would even shout out, ‘Homo!’ I didn’t even know what that meant. I’d lock myself up & cry all day. I was even sexually harassed by a 50 year old man & in 12th grade, my best friend said, ‘I’m from a decent family & can’t be friends with you’. I was shattered! By the time I reached college I’d lost all my self-esteem. I suppressed that part of me & lied to people. I even had a friend pretend to be my girlfriend. I lived in fear of the world. It pushed me to the edge & I tried killing myself. But a friend stopped me, & asked why I gave those who didn’t care for me so much importance? That changed my life. From then on, I was unashamedly myself. My daily life was still a battle. I was called names & people pelted stones at my window. When I stayed in a PG, my roommate saw me & moved to another room. He told everyone I was gay & that it was a disease. But, I found immense support too. The editor at my earlier job, was so helpful. He took me to events where I met people like me! For the first time, I wasn’t alone. I even met a makeup artist who inspired me to explore makeup & crossdressing. My mom was another pillar of strength. Once, a relative told her to take me to a doctor. My mom bluntly told her to not call again! That’s when I gave crossdressing a chance. I remember going to buy lipstick & when I told the salesman that it was for myself, his eyes popped out! But I didn’t care–I was going to be who I wanted to be, proudly. Our society has stereotypes that only girls wear pink or only guys can gym. I want people to know it’s okay to choose your happiness over everyone else's, to fall in love with who you are & not care about ‘what people will say’. Live for yourself, not for anyone else & walk with your head held high. You owe it to yourself to own who you are!” — HoB with Amazon Prime Video India brings to you the real stories of people which showcases the good, the bad & the ugly–all that is a part of the chaos of life, through their new show #MadeInHeaven
What caught my eyes was the way she carries herself, so gracefully. Being a girly girl myself, I must say she carries herself way better than many of the girls out there. Those neck pieces, bangles, anklets look so pretty on her. Needless to say she looks her best in that smudged kajal and bindi look.That’s the way she is – graceful and classy.
I had read about certain things like a beautiful soul trapped inside a wrong body. When you look at the beautiful pictures of this beautiful soul, even you will find that’s true. It’s a beautiful soul of a woman inside a man’s body.
Mygirlypedia got a privilege to interview this kind woman. Hop in to know more about Bala, her life, struggles she went through, her dreams, her love for makeup and dressing up etc.
Mygirlypedia : Tell me about yourself, what do you do for living.
Bala : I am a PR manager and work for celebrities that’s my bread and butter. Apart from that I’m a gender activist and gave TEDx talk last year. I’m fighting to break the gender stereotypes. Because our society has some barriers like there are certain things which only men can do and set of things only women can. That’s what I want to break through.
I even get invitations from principals of schools to come and conduct LGBT workshops for 6th, 7th and 8th standard students. It’s about how to save yourself from bullies. How to stay strong.
Mygirlypedia : Tell me about your family
Bala : I have an elder brother who is in abroad. He hasn’t accepted me yet. Mom supports me a lot. Dad doesn’t as we belong to orthodox family.
But they are happy with me, my achievements. I think somewhere I have also given them a lot of time to think about these things. They belong to different generation and they do need time to accept.
A small and happy go family.
Mygirlypedia : How was your childhood
Bala : My childhood has been a roller coaster ride for me, loads of ups and downs.
I used to mingle more with girls than boys and not in to sports (again a gender stereotype that a boy should actively take part in sports.). At that tender age, I did not understand all these things.
When I realized that I am different, people didn’t believe me. They used to shout at me, tease me by shouting homo. Some used to even bash me verbally. They used to abuse me.
What hurt me more was losing one of my male best friends. He didn’t receive my calls initially and one fine day he ended our friendship by saying that he cannot accept me the way I am as it is against his religious believes.
I went into depression while I was in college. At some point of time I used to take 5-6 anti depressants in a day. I even took sick leave for a month. Once I came back, even after knowing what I went through, people were not kind to me. They even refused to help me with the academics/ classes I missed. It was a rough phase of my life.
These things made me start thinking – why me? Why am I different? Why everyone is taking advantage of my situation? Why everyone is taking advantage of my silence??
With absolutely no support from anyone, all the bullies around in college – I lost the purpose of life and I wanted to end my life.
But I owe my life to theses angels whom I proudly call my dear friends – Shruthi, Arundati, Rashmika. They said “Bala, why do you want to commit suicide? Why can’t you live for the ones who love you??? To whom you matter a lot. Why are you giving so much importance to your haters that you want to end your life?” That made me realize what I was going to do..!!! That stopped me from losing this precious life.
Mygirlypedia : When did you realize about your real self?
Bala : After college, I started working for a magazine at Delhi. I met this huge community of people who are like me. That is where I realized I am as beautiful as everyone around. I found the purpose for life. That is where my new life started. I realized I am here to spread love. I learnt to live for others which in turn gave lot of happiness. I don’t miss the pride parades. I walk every year for those who are still living inside the closet.
Mygirlypedia : What was that one push that made you gather the courage to open up about yourself?
Bala : Namrata Soni (celebrity makeup artist and my best friend), whom I met during a makeup master class. I told her once “Namrata, I am scared of applying kajal/ lipstick”. She said one sentence which motivates me every time. “Bala, not everyone is going to accept you. You should be yourself and stop caring what others think”. That moment made me brave enough to take major step towards being myself. Then I started buying cosmetics for myself.
(I personally feel, she looks so pretty with kajal. That south Indian look is so graceful. )
Mygirlypedia : Who was the first person with whom you spoke about it?
Bala : I think it is Nishara from college. Then I spoke to my friends Rashmika, Shruthi (because of whom I am still alive).
Mygirlypedia : What was your parent’s reaction?
Bala : Dad and brother couldn’t accept the fact. They are taking their time to absorb things.
Mom, she took time too to accept. Even though she doesn’t really talk about it openly but she somewhere understands me. We even share cosmetics now.
Mygirlypedia : Who is your support system?
Bala : I have a lot of straight friends who are my support system. I got some amazing friends at every phase of my life. Be it college be it office. Here are some of the gems I have:
Shruthi, Rashmika, Arundati, Aparna, Naina, Shavya, Nora, Shikha Dutt, Dharini Mishra, Divya Dhillon, Tasnim Ahmed, Jasmine Ahmed, Bhawna Gupta maa, Aher Abheena maa, Padma Iyer amma, Namrata Soni, Anaita Shroff, Vivek Giri, Ayush Joshi and Rishabh Singh.
Mygirlypedia : How do you handle the strange stares of people or how do you feel when people treat you differently in public places?
Bala : There are people who still make fun of me when I go out. Some have even misused my pictures to post on certain websites. I used to feel bad but not anymore.
Now I just turn back and give them a very gentle smile and say “People who make fun of others are not cable of achieving anything. You make fun of me because you don’t have the capacity to do what I am doing, living the life I want to. I am brave enough and go out and help people in need, which you cannot”
Mygirlypedia : What’s the best part of being new or the real you?
Bala : Se*y. I feel like that real chic Maharani (queen). (That’s the trendy name I have given for myself.)
Mygirlypedia : What would be one piece of advice you would like to give to following people:
Mygirlypedia : To people who are still living inside the closet:
Bala : Wait for the right time. Be independent. Because when you are dependent on your parents, you won’t be having much point to justify. Once you are independent, justification becomes meaningful and convincing them would be easier. I also empathize and I stand with them.
Mygirlypedia : To bullies:
Bala : If you bully someone, please be ready to face karma. Because, karma is strong. Even if I forgive, karma won’t. Tomorrow someone else will bully you for something. It shows your capability, it shows you are not capable of doing anything other than bullying. Karma is waiting to make you feel the same way you made us feel.
Today many of my college mates who had bullied me, asked sorry. But I am somehow not able to forgive them for the trauma they made me go through. For the way they treated me, sorry means nothing now.
Mygirlypedia : To Those Who Are Getting Bullied:
Bala : If you are getting bullied for being different, just stand firm and turn back. Make fun of the bullies for being the same.
Mygirlypedia : People with misconceptions about gay people, like some even feel being different is something to do with mental illness:
Bala : I remember one of my roommates from a PG, in Delhi. We had joint bed. The second day, he separated his bed from mine. On the third day, he shifted his bed to another room. The next day he shifted to other room with all his stuffs. People are narrow minded.
To those educated and yet narrow minded people out there, I want to tell you – we all are same. Even we have red blood just like you. There is nothing to feel ashamed or feel bad about us. Break your brain and come out of that nutshell.
Mygirlypedia : To your younger self:
Bala : That Bala is no more. That Bala is dead. I don’t want to remember that Bala. Because he is no more. This is a new Bala. I have taken a rebirth I would say.
Mygirlypedia : To all those people who love you:
Bala : I don’t want to say anything. I just want to give them a big bomb hug, a big fat bear hug. No matter what, I will always be with you guys till my last breath. Because of you I am here. I owe my life, my success to them. They are the best. They understand me inside out.
Mygirlypedia : What improvements would you like to see happen for LGBT community in India?
Bala : For LGBT community improvement, we need support from parents to come out of the closet and live a free life. One of my friends, who is a transgender, gets life threatening calls from her own brother. Think about how hurt she must be. 10 years somewhere down the line, I want to see all the parents giving a big warm hug to their children and accept them.
Mygirlypedia : Tell me about power of love that you believe in:
Bala : Love is powerful. Love has different forms. Love of a mother and the child, which is the purest, love of a brother, a friend. I have so many friends who love me, who understand and support me.
Love has nothing do with gender, love is pure and transparent. Accept it when it is true.
Mygirlypedia : What according to you makes a man attractive?
Bala : (Blushes) His heart, his qualities, transparent nature, down to earth nature, respectable attitude towards everyone makes him attractive. I get attracted to guys with kind heart.
Mygirlypedia : Tell me about what your dream boy would be like.
Bala : (Shy) My dream boy should be someone just like my first crush. I had my first crush in school. Someone who is very confident, who is down to earth, caring and concerned and very understanding. I don’t like someone who is possessive. So, these are certain things what I look for in my guy.
Mygirlypedia : What’s the secret of your positivity?
Bala : Secret of positivity is just love yourself. When you love yourself unconditionally, positive vibes just flow. Live for yourself. Do not hate your life no matter what. Don’t owe any justification to anyone for being you.
Mygirlypedia : Who is your favorite fashion designer?
Bala : Payal Singhal and Anaita Shroff, both are my favorites.
Mygirlypedia : Who is your fashion icon?
Bala : Namrata Soni. I love her fashion sense.
Mygirlypedia : One celebrity whose wardrobe you would love to steal
Bala : Sonam Kapoor.
Mygirlypedia : When was the last time you shopped and what did you buy???
Bala : Yesterday and I bought some ghagra, jewelry and anklets.
Mygirlypedia : Which is your favorite kind of attire – Indian or western??
Bala : Indian, always.
Mygirlypedia : Which is your favorite piece of accessory, without which you feel incomplete?
Bala : Neck piece.
Mygirlypedia : Favorite nail paint color?
Bala : Red, pink and black. But red more.
Mygirlypedia : Your favorite lipstick shade.
Bala : Red. It’s classy.
Mygirlypedia : Which is your favorite cosmetics brand?
Bala : My glam. Namrata Soni is brand ambassador. So yes My glam is my favorite.
We all have one life to live. On top of that, tomorrow is not promised for anyone…!!!
If you spend this life in pleasing someone else or especially ‘society’, you will have a biggest regret while we are on death bed.
Least we can do to make full use of this life is to have that little craziness or that little guts to follow your heart. Most importantly to be kind to others. Sounds difficult??? Well, it is OK if you can’t help someone or be kind, but at least don’t trouble or don’t be rude to someone.
The LGBT people are just like us. They are like the way they are. They have been created that way. It is absolutely nothing to do with mental health or their up bringing and definitely nothing do with ghost or black magic. Just to simplify your view – they are like a soul trapped in a wrong body. Post talking to this girly soul, Bala, I truly believed that.
So, the next time if you hear someone saying such things, do correct them. Because instead of liking posts on social media about LGBT, lets spread knowledge about them and help them with their fight to make this a livable society.
They are just like us who need love and respect at the end of the day.
Be kind, be fabulous. 🙂
Do follow this beautiful soul on Instagram @queeromania.