ESHAN HI­LAL, 24

Belly Dancer and Gen­der Fluid Model

India Today - - COVER STORY -

Free­dom is. When cleav­age is seen as be­ing con­fi­dent and be­ing bold is not syn­ony­mous with vul­gar. For me, it means liv­ing the life I want to, ir­re­spec­tive of my gen­der.

In the eyes of my fam­ily, I’m a sin­ner. I come from a typ­i­cal Mus­lim ortho­dox fam­ily where the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try and art world are con­sid­ered haram. They ex­pect a mir­a­cle to get their son on the right track and hope that he’ll ful­fil the ul­ti­mate goal of find­ing a spot in heaven af­ter death.

From a nachaniya to an in­spi­ra­tional dancer, the jour­ney has been mind bog­gling. If we keep the ini­tial name call­ing aside, I’ve re­alised that with time, so­ci­ety show­ers you with ac­cep­tance when they see some­thing mean­ing­ful.

I'm a man. I like my beard and I also like to wear skirts. No, I don't want to change my sex. In a world with com­plete free­dom, we’d be able to say this sen­tence in one breath. High heels were orig­i­nally made for men.

It was a sign of viril­ity, mas­culin­ity and high sta­tus. I don’t in­tend to pro­mote cross dress­ing but I def­i­nitely have a prob­lem with stereo­types.

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