5 LGBTQIA+ Individuals Revisit Their 16-Year-Old Selves and Discuss Love

Stemming from my own personal experience, if there’s one thing that I can quote about love—it’s that it never leaves until it teaches you something. Whether it’s a lesson you end up learning at 34 or master the whole ‘out of sight, out of mind’ at 23, the fact remains that there’s a lot to learn from this four-letter (rather heavy) word.

If I had to ask you to go back in time to when you were at a tender age of 16, and in love, what do you recall from those 365 days of your life? I presented this question to five individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community. In a country that has showcased trying and sombre times for individuals who share a bond of same-sex love, their stories only get warmer, fuzzier.

Harish Iyer (Indian Human Rights Activist)


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“I would like to tell my 16-year-old self that it’s okay to fall in love the way you fall in love. Just because the way you love is different, you are not diseased. In fact, you will cease to exist in your true authentic self if you confine your love. It’s okay to uncage love even when the world doesn’t gauge it the way it should. Your love is valid even if your love is different. People fall in love with people. Same-sex love is love.”

Shrushti Ashok Mane (Founder and Curator of @lgbtmumbai)


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A post shared by Shrushti Ashok Mane. (@shrushti.ashok)

“Sexuality is a spectrum. Maybe ‘girl meets the guy’ could just as easily be ‘girl meets girl’ for you. Live courageously without fear and while you’re at it remember to sing out loud to Shawn Mendes’ ‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry so baby, be the life of the party’. Also, remember to come out only if you are ready to. ‘The world not being ready for you’ part is a lie—even if you look different, or feel you look different to most other people. There is much more to you than what others can see on the façade.”

Sushant Divgikar (Singer, Internationally Acclaimed Performer, Industrial Psychologist and Drag Icon)


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A post shared by Sushant Divgikr/ Rani KoHEnur (@sushantdivgikr)

“Hi, my darling. I want to say that there will be situations that will come your way that might not be exactly comfortable. A lot of people will say a lot of things. But know one thing: You are loved! You will overcome all the hate, prejudice and rise like the Phoenix you are. You will have the power to change lives. Don’t ever give up.”

Kumar Iyer (Make-up Artist, Hairstylist and Counsellor)


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A post shared by Kumar Iyer (@makeupstorysbykumar)

“Today, I’m at the cusp of 50, and I am revisiting the year when I was 16. I had the realisation by then that I was not straight. I distanced myself from my straight male friends. The raging hormones and thumping heartbeats only reminded me of my own queerness when they were around. I modulated my walk and speech a lot to fit in, unsure why I felt this way as I had no role model who I could approach for advice. I took up smoking to “appear” macho! Today I have the wisdom of my long innings as an out and proud queer man. I embrace my gender-fluid nature, and I mentor those who are young with no friends. I will tell my 16-year-old self that: You will go a long way, and you are complete. You are smart and beautiful! So, don’t worry, be happy!”

Anjali Lama (Model)


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A post shared by Anjali Lama (@anjalilama_official)

“Love yourself and what you do the most, no matter what other people say and how they try to disturb you from achieving your goals and ambition.”

Photographs: Instagram (LGBT Mumbai)

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