Gurnoor Kaur Behl emerges as a dynamic force, embodying three unique shades of diversity – woman, queer, and disabled. In our conversation, she delves into her remarkable journey, exploring the challenges she faces and the resilience that defines her.
The hearing on same-sex marriage gave us hope, but the verdict snatched it away.
Reflecting on her journey, Behl recounts the pivotal moments in her life when she kissed a girl and was diagnosed with epilepsy in the same year, at the age of 12. Amid societal expectations and fairy-tale narratives ingrained in her Punjabi upbringing, she envisioned her marriage, a concept deeply rooted in her cultural heritage.
But, the recent Supreme Court verdict on denying marriage rights to the queer community left her in tears. When Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud said, “It is not queerness which is of foreign origin but the many shades of prejudice in India which are remnants of a colonial past,” it gave the queer community hope. However, the optimism was short-lived, leading to profound disappointment and a day filled with tears. Behl grapples with the emotional turmoil of being given hope only to have it snatched away, drawing a poignant analogy to foreplay without a main course.
Despite everything, I have been very resilient, and I only have myself to credit for.
Being both queer and neurodivergent meant isolation served as a constant companion for Behl. Recounting her journey, she shares the restrictions imposed due to her epilepsy diagnosis, revealing a life marked by limitations for safety reasons. Despite these challenges, she moved out of her parents' house to prove her ability to live independently, a testament to her determination.
Growing up with epilepsy made Behl introverted, and the impact on her mental health was profound. She candidly discusses questioning her gender identity and enduring bullying, emphasizing the lack of reference points and support in a conservative Indian society during the early 2000s. This period of isolation, Behl believes, led her to reflect inward, occasionally through the lens of anger. It also made her have greater self-awareness of her identity from a very young age. She contends that for those observing or listening, adopting this perspective — not focusing on the grass being greener on the other side but rather seeing the glass as half full — can fundamentally alter their outlook on life. Behl underscores that such realizations often manifest when one connects the dots later in life.
I'm no longer of the mindset that I want to belong. I want to stand out.
Behl's journey of self-reflection involves grappling with questions about her identity, including her gender and sexual orientation. She acknowledges the lack of acceptance from society and her parents and the resilience required to navigate these challenges. Despite facing depression and the complexities of managing her conditions, Behl remains steadfast in her commitment to self-improvement and resilience.
In the face of societal changes, Behl emphasizes a shift in perspective. She no longer seeks to belong but aims to stand out, advocating for a broader human identity. As an entrepreneur, Behl actively engages in events to create a mindset shift, providing safe spaces for others. She encourages a focus on making a difference and challenges the conventional notions of belonging.
She encourages others to find solace in calming activities like meditation or writing and discusses how she uses her LinkedIn profile as a therapeutic outlet. She also emphasizes the significance of returning to life's basics, whether through enjoying music, spending time with friends and family, or indulging in comfort food.
I do not shame on anger.
Behl understands that a lot of her anger stems from her childhood. However, her attitude towards anger has evolved through therapy, and she encourages everyone to consider seeking therapeutic support. She highlights the transformative power of channeling anger into positive energy and creating solutions. Behl remains resolute in her commitment not to settle, leveraging her emotions to contribute meaningfully, be it through initiatives like Delhi Queer Spaces or her personal endeavors fostering a perspective shift in the country.
Sharing her grounding techniques, she emphasizes the importance of self-care. She finds solace in various activities, from meditation to creating LinkedIn content. Despite grappling with anxiety, Behl navigates the complexities with resilience and an unwavering commitment to making a positive impact.
I want to create a mindset shift that fosters safe spaces, something I didn't have growing up.
Behl envisions a change in societal perspectives. Through her ventures and activism with Delhi Queer Space, she remains determined to bring about positive change, refusing to settle for the status quo.
Gurnoor Kaul Behl’s life is a testament to her resilience and commitment to making a difference. Her journey, marked by challenges and triumphs, serves as an inspiration for those navigating the intersections of identity. In a world that is shrinking, Behl stands out as a beacon of hope and a force for positive transformation.