The LGBTQAI+ community has struggled a lot to be recognised in the world. Their everyday struggles to be accepted and fight the discrimination against them for centuries is a heartbreaking journey. In a country like India, where the majority of the population is still evolving and has strong beliefs, it becomes harder for people to come out as nonbinary. Fighting for their identity within themselves and then going on to fight with others as well, is a tedious task every day. Today we bring to you the interview of Ashim Das, a young champ who identifies themself as non-binary. Their story is full of self-love and accepting oneself. Ashim hails from a small town in Assam and is pursuing fashion in Chennai. Read on to know their journey of inspiration, love, and bravery.

Q. How hard was it for you to accept yourself?

Ans. I knew since childhood, that I was different. I grew up as a very feminine child. Even my parents and cousins used to dress me up for fun. But, I did like it then. It was not hard for me to accept myself, but yes, it was a really long journey.

Q. How was the journey to coming out? From where did you gather the courage?

Ans. I actually, never came out as such officially. As I was growing up, I never really tried to put myself into a box. The visual change actually came when I went to Chennai. Living in a small town, you don’t really get to express yourself. They judge you as well as your family. I don’t really care what they think about me, but my family matters to me. I didn’t want it to affect my family, so I held myself back for a long time. But, when I went to Chennai, it was a new place, thus it was easy to express. The moment I saw there that people were accepting me the way I was, that gave me the courage to be who I am.

Q. How did your parents react to this?

Ans. I am also surprised that my parents accepted me and were as open as they were, as in a small town it is quite rare. They eventually grew into it. Now I am in my home in Assam, and I be the way I choose to be. I never explored my sense of style there, but now I do wear what I want. They caught up to it later after I came home, but I also don’t go out of the way but keep a boundary.

Q. Why are you inclined towards fashion as much as you are?

Ans. It all comes down to accepting myself. But, I get to be the person I always wanted to be in fashion. I actually wanted to be a doctor, but as I reached high school, I explored Instagram, the realm of fashion and I was inspired by that. The industry is inclusive and that motivated me to get into fashion. I love 90s designers, and all the drag artists out there. They have been a huge inspiration for me. The drag industry has been very inspiring to me.

Q. Tell us more about drag fashion and industry.

Ans. I came to the drag community in 2016 when I watched RuPaul’s show. A television show around queer artists, where they get to do dress and do makeup the way they want. A show in the mainstream media talking about us. That is something that inspired me a lot. Seeing the huge designers walk the runway with queer positivity was a huge deal. I’m borderline getting into it. As RuPaul said, ‘You are born naked, but the rest is drag’. That is what drag is to me. It is everything you do yourself and I like it.

Q. The majority of the country is still transphobic and homophobic, how do you deal with the everyday hate you come across.

Ans. I really don’t know about others but it is pretty hard for me. There is too much judgment in the country. But, now we are changing I feel. Earlier there was no representation as such, but now I do see people like me everywhere. There is some kind of representation for sure. I am somewhat representing the queer kids who are not able to express themselves. Actually, it is everything that is hard. The stares I get once I get out of home, they stare me to death, sometimes they call me names. I might be the strongest person, but sometimes it does get to you. But, you just keep on going, be who you are, and stop caring.

Q. Often people gaslight when they think someone chooses their sexuality from ‘the convenient mainstream’, how do you deal with that? How do you keep your mental peace in check?

Ans. I honestly do not react at all. I do not give them any heed, and on social media I immediately block them. I don’t care at all, as it will only disrupt my mental peace. I just stop caring. However, makeup and dressing up are like therapy for me, when I put on my facade I feel the best about myself. I love myself. I love what I’m becoming and the journey I have come through, I am inspired by my journey, because that is not easy.

Q. Has the government been helping? How do you think it should?

Ans. The government is not really doing a good job now. They should ensure that our community can have easy education and healthcare. And, also make sure that there are enough job opportunities for the queer. But, I believe we are going in the right direction. I would like to give it to the media, which is giving us a platform to voice out and normalising us. And, of course, sex education is important in schools. As much as the government has its part, it is also the job of the parents who need to do their part. Even if the accessibility is made sure by the government. It is the parents who need to make them understand. What we want is, just enough representation that it gets normalised and people become more accepting with time. Likewise, social media has helped every underrepresented group of people to find their voice and helped the community to be together.

Q. What do you think of the representation of the queer community in media?

Ans. The Indian media and the audience is not very woke in that sense. We do need to work towards and educate people as much as possible to make the change.

Q. What will you tell the young people who are struggling to come out?

I would say, do not stress about it. You have to come out someday, just be yourself, be safe. Give yourself the time. I would just like to say that, to anyone queer kid, take your time and do not rush this process. Because it is important to find yourself and love yourself, take your time to love and accept yourself.
Moreover, do keeping in mind your safety, because it is not very safe to be a queer individual now. There are a lot of crimes against the community every day. It might not be on the national media, but local ones cover them. It is devastating to see the sexual and physical crimes against the community. I would fear walking around the street after 9, because of the way I am.
But, all I would say again is, just take your time to love yourself. Ashim says that they love themself the most. I am proud that I am the way I want to be in this world, and I inspire myself. They are an inspiration to many people out there who choose to be brave each day. Their journey is full of love and empathy, and we hope that is your takeaway from this interview as well.