Fighting the world, one belly at a time

"Being a male belly dancer in a country like India isn't easy. Throughout my childhood in Vijaywada, I was bullied because I was coy and 'feminine'. I was told I 'laughed like a girl'. My friends, relatives and even my teachers would constantly remind me not to sit, speak or act in a certain manner. They would call me a girl and tell me to 'man up'. I often wondered if I was doing something wrong. I was unaware and naive. I didn't know the world outside. I was scared to talk to my mother about how everyone treated me. None of it stopped me from pursuing my interests. I always worked hard and managed to attain scholarships and sponsorships for my fees and books. So when in college, I was taunted for playing female characters or suggested "sex reassignment surgery", I did not let it affect me. I continued to pursue dance and theatre and actively participated in various youth festivals. 
I have faced stereotype with respect to my choices throughout my life. People teased me for liking the color pink and chocolates. Even chocolates!! 
On the other hand, art enthusiasts, theatre connoisseurs and dance gurus have always been very supportive and respectful of me. I have used my art to show support to the LGBTQIA community and put up multiple shows as well. I have been a belly dancer for many years now. It wasn't easy to explain to my mother about my choice to pursue belly dance but she slowly came to terms with it. We even sat together and watched many belly dance videos. She was a folk dancer once and will always be my biggest inspiration and support."

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