In 2004, I watched Baby's Day Out and Kal Ho Na Ho back-to-back. It was my first visit to a relative's place that had a DVD player. I had never before experienced the pleasure of watching a movie from beginning to end, from its crisp opening to its closing credits. I was mesmerised.
Caught between the blooper comedy and the cool romance, I was overwhelmed with Shah Rukh-induced emotions. For the next few months, I found myself fixated on the idea of an imagined future where I was the most charming man ever. I could picture myself in peak Y2K fashion, wearing bright and baggy cargo pants, colour-blocked t-shirts, and chunky watches while exuding a lively romantic spirit. Smirking, giggling, being awkward at times, and sensitive at others.
Except I was going to school in a skirt, a blouse, and braids.
Effortlessly Handsome and Seamlessly Fitting
Almost two decades have passed since then, and I couldn't maintain the nerdy pursuit of "charming." What I lost in charm, I gained in survival skills as part of the trans and non-binary experience. As I entered adulthood, I felt like all those years were preparing me for this moment, and now that it had arrived, I was ready to embrace it. Most things that I believed defined me, I had let go of or outgrown. Even identities took me through a transformative process, leaving behind a trail of what no longer suited me.
The only thing that stayed with me all this time was Shah Rukh Khan as Aman Mathur—being effortlessly handsome and fitting seamlessly—as the epitome of charm. Over the years, I witnessed it evolve from an obsession, an identity, and a survival technique to an anchor that reminds me of my most childlike self.
This Part is Not About Shah Rukh
I realised it's easy to lose sight of our earliest pleasures, imaginations, and desires. As queer, trans, or non-binary individuals, many of our childlike delights have vanished into the abyss of forgotten memories, sacrificed for self-preservation.
Only during my lowest moments did I seek some form of solace and rediscover the joy of baggy pants, graffiti tees, pastel shirts, and silver rings. The joy of trans, queer, and non-binary (T/Q/NB) fashion is not merely a trend or a political statement.
The Hive Mind of T/Q/NB Fashion
Throughout history, the yearning to express ourselves has remained an intrinsic part of our existence. Expressing ourselves through fashion carries profound significance, infusing our aesthetics and accessories with layers of meaning. It's no surprise, then, that many of us desire to recognise one another, if only to honour our undeniable and shared existence.
Not surprisingly, from the 1940s to the 1960s, queer individuals adorned their pinky fingers with signet rings as discreet symbols of their sexual orientation.
In Conclusion, What is T/Q/NB Fashion if not Badass?
I Travelled Back in Time to Find the Bulletproof Clothes that Saved My Soul
Every day, we dress for battle before stepping out on the streets. We walk out the door and choose defiance in the face of rigidity.
Of course, it may seem contradictory—the desire to be "effortlessly handsome and fitting seamlessly" while simultaneously challenging the established norms of the majority. But then, what are queer lives if not a remarkable culmination of a badass dream that brings us closer to ourselves?
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