Coming out of the closet

Since a very young age Soumya Tejas had felt that her ideologies were clashing with that of the society. The 27-year old, who identifies herself as a lesbian, left her well-paying job as a software engineer to start life as ‘gender activist’.

Into it for two years now Tejas has made several films, one of which is ‘Shit People Say’ that went viral as a part of the Must Bol Campaign, her first step towards activism.

The constant repression of feelings had an outburst during her days in college when she was treated as an ‘outcast’, after she unintentionally came out as a lesbian. Not related to the field of gender identity, sexual orientation, masculinity and feminism, from a perspective of a student of sociology or anthropology, the filmmaker realises that the problems of LGBT cannot be recognised in the real sense without reaching out to more and more people with the stories of gender violence.

Tejas particularly adds that “it is the responsibility of people, and not a favour to come out of their closed-mindedness and rejection towards other communities, as it is affecting lives of those ‘others’ in ways that are heart-wrenching.”

“It is not possible to change one’s view if they are not open to it, people should engage in at least reading and understa­nding the true meanings of LGBT and with this much half the battle is won,” she says.

The young filmmaker feels “that unfamiliarity gives way to more confusion. And, it is really important to start talking about these issues and inclinations more openly.”

Tejas talks of ‘spaces’ in society and projects them as “structures with which one is constantly negotiating”. In her words, these ‘spaces’ are of various kinds like “political,’ ‘judicial’ and ‘institutional’ apart from the very common one which is ‘family.” She is an active member of most groups which work towards rights and equalities of people of LGBT community.

Presently travelling across the country for her independent film which “captures injustices in these spaces faced by the people of the community, Tejas when asked, declined to open up about any personal experience, saying that there isn’t any particular one she would like to “recount as the most important one”.

According to Tejas, “society is intrusive, and always tries to override the societal expectations over the interests or inclination of a person. This entire prioritisation is faulty and damaging.”

She has been attending pride walks and movements which “empowered” her and now she conducts workshops, media campaigns and film screenings for people who “want to know more about the community and helps empowering more people” like her.

Insisting that she has “always been anti-system and anti-society” she says she has “now learnt to rebel in a negotiating manner”.After the Supreme Court ruling on Section 377, she has directed more members and herself to the cause.

Tejas feels that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender are “not an idea borne out of some kind of lifestyle but it is a serious commitment towards sexual orientation, towards which one has to be given full right. It is a slow process, but not unachievable. The youth has been really enthusiastic in all the workshops and film screenings I have conducted till now and the response is getting better.’’

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