Introducing Balaji, one of the strongest voices in the LGBT community in India, who went through and overcome many adversities. Now they are a TEDx speaker, and an influencer outreach professional and recently starting an IGTV talk series called #LetsEducate where people from their community are encouraged and motivated to embrace their identity. Their story is not for the faint-hearted but made it easier for me to endure as their attitude had spice, sass, and a whole lot of strength.
Balaji, being a Palakkad Iyer brought up in Kolkata, had quite a childhood filled with uncomfortable situations. Being a sexual abuse survivor by the age of 8-9, being lured by chocolate and candy was abused by a grown man. Finally, after realizing what was happening, their strength took over as they took to themselves to push them away.
After that ordeal having realized that they were gay by the age of 10, which is quite early by Indian standards, lived in the closet till they went to college. Also endured a lot of bullying through this time often being called names and insults on a normal basis.
College Life & Struggles
Having come out to their best friend of 10 years in the first year of college, they were abandoned because he felt that Balaji was unnatural. This had them again question their existence. Their college life was really the lowest point, and their beginning as an openly gay personality is quite funny because having lied to their class about a secret girlfriend just as a security measure, this period was really their coming of age, as dealing with depression and extreme self-esteem issues. Balaji having trouble with their identity had taken a bunch of antidepressants in an attempt at suicide. Thankfully Balaji survived it, but this situation was really an epic turnaround for them. What’s funny is when by the end of college they took it to themselves to come out to their whole class, everyone in the class said they already knew. “They gave me huge hugs and I made a lot of friends in return,” adds Balaji with a smile.
Coming Of Age
After college, Balaji had been working in Delhi and was getting numerous marriage proposals. Balaji had to shoo them away by saying that they didn’t want to get married as an escape tactic from the topic, as their mum didn’t know about their orientation.
After being invited to speak at a TEDx event Balaji took on themselves to come out at this TED Talk and had an underlying theme about gender stereotypes, being a crossdresser as well. I am not a big fan of this term. I think the term Queen needs to be reclaimed by the community to describe cross-dressing, it has a positive connotation but unfortunately, through history, it was used as an insult, but it needs to be reclaimed like how the African-American Community reclaimed the N-word.
Now, as TED talks get uploaded on the internet and there’s no way to avoid it, Balaji’s brother sent this TED talk video to their Mum, who called them home immediately as she was sick. So they went and finally gave the ultimate truth to their mum. She is the hero in this situation because as it can be difficult in our culture to accept it, she chose to do it and saw a path of happiness even though she knew about some of the stigmatization attached to having an openly gay son.
Now Balaji works in celebrity brand management, and also has contributed to Gaylaxy, an LGBT magazine. They continue to empower and give motivational speeches to those who had stories like them or in some cases even worse which is really important for their community because there’s a lot of abuse that comes in the way of accepting who you are especially when you’re in the LGBT spectrum.
Balaji’s strength is the main superpower that has brought them here, because in our culture, as strong you may be, they have to be quadruple times as strong just to survive through a culture that is very unaccepting and judgemental. Balaji adds, “You have to be the change to bring the change.”
This Is Balaji for you, a voice for the fallen.
Follow them @queeromania