“The beauty of standing up for your rights is others see you standing and stand up as well”
– Cassandra Duffy

In collaboration with NITK Spectrum, The Rotaract club celebrated Pride month duringthe month of June. We hope to increase awareness about the LGBTQ+ Community and hope to spread love and kindness and accept each other for who they are. As part of Pride Month, we contacted Kochi based model and actor Rakesh Dayaseelan. Aspiring super model and a huge fan of Reality TV, Rakesh came out as a trans-Individual during his audition for the MTV show Roadies where he spoke about his belonging within the LGBTQ+ community. Interviewing him and getting to know about his experiences as a transgender member of the LGBTQ+ community, coming out to his family and a lot more gave us an insight to society’s perspective on the community as well as how to take care of your mental health through it all.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Rakesh Dayaseelan. I’m 21 years old. I like to act, I am an aspiring model and just got the opportunity to act in a Malayalam dance based movie named Moonwalk. I’m a huge fan of Reality TV, and one day hope to be a Reality TV star and I’m a proud trans-Individual.

2. When did you first realize or like come to an understanding about your gender
preference or sexuality?
I knew that I was unique since I was a kid itself. I knew that my inclinations towards what seemed as the ‘norm’ were different. My friend and I used to dress up and play Prince and Princess, and I always used to be the princess and I guess it all began from there. I had a preference towards things that wasn’t common for a 6-year-old boy, maybe more suited to a girl’s inclinations. I knew I was unique but it was something that was not the most common. As I grew up and started using the internet, I learned more about it. I realized this was something society looked down upon. In school, I tried to live a life that was deemed appropriate according to society but far from true to my authentic self. I dated girls. It took
me a while, but I built my confidence and came out, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve taken till date.

3. How did you personally feel about it? What did you think were your family’s/society’s opinion about it?
For a long time, I tried to ignore it, tried taking time to completely comprehend myself, but you can’t hide yourself from you really are. I knew this was something that If I came out would have to be treated really delicately. It is something that I needed to educate myself more upon, something that is not what society
prefers and I didn’t know how my family and my close friends would take it. I first came out to my brother, and he was just like “okay cool”. The thing about coming out to the people who are closest to you, those people who have known you all your life, you have to give them time to accept it and come to an understanding in their own time.
It’s common tendency to want to rush through this process or be in a haste to see if they accept you who you are, but it very important that you give them time, and more important that you take care of your mental health through this process. I first told them I was gay during my 12th grade, which also took time to process. I educated myself on what it means to be gay and what it means to be transgender. Then I decided to come out as trans and approached my parents. After telling them that I knew this was who I was and the fact that I couldn’t change reality, I knew that they didn’t really know how to think of it or take it, but as I gave them more time, I could see things changing, slowly, but it was changing. My mother took 3 years to educate herself about everything with regard to the LGBTQ+ Community and to come to terms with reality. She educated my father on these topics as well. I’m glad I told them and I’m glad I took time in this process, as now my parents know and understand how I feel and who the real me is.

4.Were there any hardships through this process that you’ve gone through?
I guess I was lucky in that prospect. When I came out to my friends, they accepted me immediately for who I was. Everything was the same as before. My parents as well, have accepted me. It took time for them to understand, but in the end, they were the most supporting, and I really couldn’t have asked for more.

7. What was your thought process and mental state during that time?
This is actually one of the most important things during this whole-time period. Your mental health, your mental state can take a toll through this process. You’ll be worrying what people will think, you’ll be wondering how your family feels and how your friends feel. It is important to really be confident in who you are. You have to feel positive about this change that you’re going through and believe in the process. Most of all, you have to be patient. Understand that people react in different ways and they need their own time to understand and accept things as they are. So just be patient, take care of yourself, and always be true to who you are.

8. How do you think your story has or can impact people/society?
I do think I can be an example to other kids like me, who have grown up knowing that they are unique and they do want to make this change in their life. I hope I can give them the confidence to come out and stay true to their self. I think my story may mainly help those parents whose children are going through the same process. They will be able to be more accepting and supporting as they understand and educate themselves more which is what is required when it comes to such a situation.
I hope every child can be true to their family as to who they really are inside, like I have been to mine.

“You look ridiculous if you dance. You look ridiculous if you don’t dance. So you might as well dance.”
– Chris Colfer

There’s so much more love to go around, and if the world was a bit kinder, it would be
worth it. Take care.

Written by 
Liz George