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Mansi Khandelwal

IWB Blogger

Transgender Poet Shilok Narrates Her Tale Of Two Personalities

  • IWB Post
  •  September 27, 2017

For generations, our limited understanding of sexual orientation and gender fluidity has tampered with our idea of equality and freedom. And owing to the societal obligation and norms, not many, who feel different from what they were born as, come out of the closet and talk.

But there’s someone who does not fear to own up to her identity. She is a young and beautiful 20-year-old renowned poet, and a Radio Jockey from Bangalore, Shilok Mukkati.

You know what’s really beautiful about her? Well, it’s the medium through which she has chosen to address the world. She uses poetry to express her journey and to fight the conventional mindsets. Assigned male at birth, Shilok always knew she was different from the heteronormative group. In her college days, the feeling became even stronger and that’s when Shilok decided to accept her heart.

Below is an excerpt from Shilok’s first poem:  “Kinnara’ of the Dark World”.

Look at us, born as sluts,…Bearing the embargo of heats,

The tears of a girl are rushed by compassion, The tears of an effeminate are crushed by exasperation.

My mother loves me, but never understands me.

As for my Father, I am not the one he wanted.

For the siblings, we are ghastly speech,

Forget the relatives, it’s a far speech at all.

My childhood was drenched by the rain of molestation,

Hush…! They zipped my mouth, never opened my abduction…

Here’s what Shilok shared with us about her years-long journey and the struggles she faced on the way.

When did you fully accept your true identity? Was there a particular incident leading to this realization?

Well, it was in my college days I learned about myself, and there were many incidents which led me to this realization. One of them was when I spent an entire night analyzing my life, trying to understand the society and people around me, and tried answering questions I had. Also, another major incident was meeting an amazing person called Jayanthi in my Counselling Course at Prasanna, Bangalore. She is a Clinical Psychologist based in the USA and came over to India with some project. When I shared my problem, she voluntarily came to me and helped me to know who I am. And that was a big start for me to make a step to know the truth of my gender identity.

Who did you first share your realization with? What was their reaction?

It was with my PG mate named Diganth. He said he knew I was queer before.  He used to address me as his sister, and it made me feel so much better. Later, it was my best friend, Sumedha. She was the first person with whom I used to share my life and feelings since childhood. I had always had her back in my life and even now in every step she is there to support me.

Shilok Mukkati

Being a renowned poet, what is that one poem that reflects your life?

I think all the poems in this world about the gender identity reflect my life. They connect several dots. But my personal favorite is my own very first poem that I wrote in English, which I had already published in kannada before, and is called “Kinnara’s of the Dark World.”

How have your parents supported you in your journey?

I have recently come out to my family. So far it is going well. Initially, they were not okay, but they are now making efforts to understand me. My parents come from a very small town, and I wouldn’t blame them on being alienated towards the concepts of Gender and sexuality. However, their efforts to understand me and support me means a lot to me.

What challenges have you faced in your transition process?

I haven’t gone through a physical transition yet. The psychological transition was challenging. In the period of my confused state, I lost my younger brother. Like every parent, even they had several dreams about our family and my marriage and life after that. In this phase, I went through a lot of guilt. But I couldn’t cheat myself or others for the sake of society. To fight all this, the courage didn’t come easily. It came after facing a lot of humiliation, bullying, rejection, stigma, and ignorance.

I always believe that it’s the journey that matters and not the destination.

After coming out of the closet, has anyone contacted you seeking advice? How did you help? 

Yes, so many people have contacted me. I have introduced them to many LGBTQIA support systems in Bangalore. It feels great to see some of them being so confident and doing wonders in their lives. I just have this to say to them, “You only need to love, care, accept, support and understand yourself first. Whether others do that to you is secondary. We need to give immense love and care for the child inside us, at first. There is nothing called ‘Coming Out Event’ because I have never met a heterosexual saying he or she came out as a heterosexual, then why should we? Just celebrate what you are, no matter what!! Be yourself.”

Shilok Mukkati

The first piece you wrote in acceptance of yourself.

...You so called nature’s dear Homo sapiens,

To flood the erroneous justification of you,

To blood the stereotypes of hierarchy & patriarchy,

To teach what real humanity is… We have come.

For the realization and recognition of our existence & dignity,

Here we are, The Kinnaras of the dark world…

What was your most powerful read on LGBT?

It is an autobiography called “Truth About Me” by Revathi Amma. Every story of hers, including her experiences, have truly inspired me.

Who is your role model?

Ghazal Dhaliwal, who came in Sathyameva Jayate Season 3 Episode 3 inspires me a lot. There are other amazing activists like Living Smile Vidhya, Revathi Amma, Vinay Chandran, Mayamma and many more, who I look up to as my role models.

Do you feel an added pressure to prove yourself at every phase in your life?

Certainly very much! I have always felt that for others we are aliens and belong to another world. Without even knowing us and making an effort to talk to us, people express some sort of transphobia. Also, those who sometimes accept us think they did a favor to us. I have experienced an immense pressure to prove myself to ‘fit’ in the society. At every step, I need to work harder in my career, education and other spheres as compared to others.

If you were to write your autobiography, what would you call it?

Nannalogiruva Avallalighe (Journey to her who is inside me)

The title sounds so beautiful that I can’t wait for the complete book!

Which passion of yours best describes you?

Dance and Writing.

Shilok Mukkati

What would be one uncensored message through your radio show?

“Explore your body and mind, see yourself intensely. It should be that intense that you should find your spirit burning like a sun. As you see yourself, now you are ready to fly away. Fly.”

If given a chance, how would you grace the red carpet?

Ha ha ha… I would love to wear my favorite Black saree and pose with all the Bollywood celebrities.

Shilok Mukkati

This article was first published in January, 2017.

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