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  • Writer's pictureHina Siddiqui

Queer Lives: Season 1 | Episode 5

Updated: May 18, 2022

Connecting with Nerissa has been one of the many joyous serendipities of the Queer Lives process.

The story starts with Gulnar. Gulnar is a marvellous friend and colleague. She and me worked together as drama facilitators and one of the highlights of our partnerships was bingeing on puchkas after class. I love Gulnar and all her amazing energy. But she would not have been on my list of staunch LGBTQIA++ allies. Until now of course. Gulnar reached out to me after listening to the first episode with Ms Versus. She told me how she had recently reconnected with a junior from her schooldays who was now a motivational speaker and author, living her best queer life in Australia with her wife. And that I should definitely reach out to her to do an interview.

And of course, that junior was Nerissa Trindade.

Side-Note: Drama facilitation for young learners is a far more emotionally-involved and at times heart-wrenching process than most people give it credit for. Gulnar was an incredible support through those tough times. Always listening and always there to give everyone a boost.

Gulnar is currently leaning into her more esoteric side and offers tarot card readings and pendulum dowsing through personal consultations on Zoom. If you want to book a session with her, leave a comment at the end and I’ll send her contact details across.

Also, I mentioned puchkas. For the uninitiated, puchkas / gol-gappas / pani-pooris are a quintessential Indian street food, available on most streets in this vast country. And here is a lovely little homegrown cooking channel on YouTube called Maddy & Mummy showing you how to make them.

Nerissa is a professional keynote and transformational speaker who inspires audiences globally. She is also the author of two international bestsellers Growing Through and A Different Reality and in this episode, we definitely spend time talking about her writing process and as well as the entire concept of growing through — not going through — as applicable to all our lives.

Nerissa grew up in India in the '80s and ’90s, in a strongly Christian household where she was forced to fit in, so she wouldn't stand out. Today as a migrant, gay woman of colour and a carer for her wife who lives with schizoaffective disorder, Nerissa draws from her past and present to advocate for a life lived with authenticity.

There is a space between realizing you are not who they say you are and becoming who you really want to be. And throughout my conversation with Nerissa, I ended up drawing many lines and connecting dots across this precarious space. So I hope that listening to this episode will give you a chance to process your own spaces of becoming as well.

Here is the full conversation on YouTube.

And of course the key moments of learning, connection and growing through with Nerissa Trindade.

05:53 |To be Gay

A confident, self-assured woman today. But that was always the case. Nerissa recounts the path that led her to who she is. The way she tells the tale of coming out to her sister, is both terrifying and exhilarating. We then go on to talk about growing up in India - and how the lack of exposure, media representation, and vocabulary surrounding the LGBTQIA++ community affects the development of queer people.

For a bit of context, here’s a little light reading on what the Indian economy was like in the 90s to give you some context on the way the nation shaped identities.

18:58 | A New Chapter

Nerissa talks about her education, the lack of professional prospects and her big move to Australia. She reminisces about her first pride march, and how being able to see others live as their true selves was a refreshing change from her hometown.

27:55 | Growing Through

Nerissa’s first book, Growing Through, went from idea to bookshelf in less than a year. We talk about the central philosophies of the book and Nerissa’s approach to writing.

40:27 | Do the Work

We follow Nerissa’s journey after the release of her book, and how it led to her launching her new venture as a transformational speaker and coach. She tells us about her transformation as a person, and what it means to be willing to do the work.

46:03 | Different Realities

Nerissa co-authored her second book A Different Reality with her wife. We talk about schizoaffective disorder and what it means to be a carer for someone living with it. And how to take care of your own mental health while at it.

I highly recommend reading A Different Reality to understand the realities and nuances of understanding schizoaffective disorder in relationships. For more information check out this MedIndia article (ignore the corny images, the article is quite informative). To seek help for mental health concerns, take a look at the affordable, intersectional feminist, trauma-informed, queer-affirmative, caste-aware and kink-aware care provided at the Alt Story.

50:58 | Love, Understanding, and Acceptance

Digging deeper into caregiving, we talk about communication strategies, practical ways to solve emotional problems, and the difference between genuine curiosity and inquisitiveness when asking questions.

01:00:55 | Queering India

Our discussion centres around queer folk in India, and whether moving abroad is a necessity to be able to comfortably express our queerness. We dive into the ever-changing nature of our lives based on age, experience, location, relationship status, etc.

01:06:24 | Prompt

“I believe we all have a story. A story that we have lived, one that we are living, and one that we will live. It's really up to us to write that story.”

Follow Nerissa

Creative Credits:

Podcast Music: Don’t Make Assumptions by Makaih Beats, sourced from the Free Music Archive used under the Creative Commons License.

Video Editing: Karan Ahuja

Research and Writing: Sanjana Arun

Photography Credits:

All pictures shared with permission from Nerissa Trindade

Post Script

Even for someone with exceptionally low cognition of the passage of time, I have taken a really long while to upload this conversation. I originally spoke to Nerissa on the 10th of March. With the honest intention of uploading things within a month or so as I usually do. But then I was needed as a caregiver at home for most of March. And in April, my attention was focused on finishing assignments for my game-making course.

I’ve gone from being someone who took a certain amount of pride in being able to do everything to struggling to do even one thing. And as I took the time to heal my exhausted mind this year, things have shifted tremendously for me. I started this podcast with the intention of continuously releasing two episodes a month. Now I am happy with one a month. And that's a pace I hope to sustain.

But quantity was never the point of this exercise.

Queer Lives is meant to be an archive of queer lived experience so that people like me have role-models and roadmaps to build our lives off of. It is being built brick by brick, person by person, recording by recording. It is an emotionally intensive process. And I hope to continue it the best I can.

That being said, here is some great news about the evolution of Queer Lives from a personal project to one with a slightly larger scope. We have a team! Karan Ahuja and Sanjana Arun are the new people helping me with Queer Lives. You can read more about them on the Queer Lives page here.

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