The joy of being Jay

Musician Jay Anand, famous for the track Loop Lapeta, opens up about being comfortable with his identity of a transman, the importance of using correct pronouns and why every ally of the LGBTQIA++ com
Jay shares about his journey of never feeling aligned with his gender
Jay shares about his journey of never feeling aligned with his gender

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Jay Anand is not just the voice behind the powerful track Loop Lapeta, he is also an advocate for the LGBTQIA++ community, and as we celebrate Pride Month and International Music Day (June 21), Jay shares about his journey of never feeling aligned with his gender and his eventual identity as a transman. 

He is part of the Be An #AbsolutAlly campaign by Absolut Glassware, co-created with 10 voices chosen from across the LGBTQIA++ spectrum, including names such as Dutee Chand, Durga Gawde, Patruni Sastry, Alex Matthew, Aniruddha Mahale, Maitrayanee Mahanta, Anwesh Sahoo and Anjali Lama. This is Jay’s story... 

Call me by my name 

I wasn’t always Jay, but that’s my name now. The reason I chose Jay is because my dead name started with the alphabet J. And by default, even before I came out, my friends did not resonate with calling me by my dead name, because that was never aligned with who I am. They just addressed me with the initial J. So it seemed to be a very smooth transition by just using the initial and that made my life easier. 

My Instagram handle is ‘jayinprocess’, and that’s because when I was creating my Instagram account, which was a private account back then — with only my closest friends as followers — it was my way of coming to terms with my identity and being okay about being vocal. In general, it’s not something that’s easily accepted especially in our country. So, for me, that was the first step. And I knew it was going to be a long way from there; every day is going to be part of that journey; and I will always be in process. 

My coming out story 

My mother and my siblings told me that at my maasi’s wedding, while all the boys were dressed in suits; the girls were in lehengas; and apparently, I literally cried out to a point that they had to get me out of those clothes and put me into one of my cousins’ suits, just to proceed with the wedding. I don’t remember any of it, these were the earliest signs I believe. I have two sisters, and I would never align with what my sisters were doing. I would think what it would be like to wake up one day as a boy and everything would be different! But. of course, sooner than later, I realised that’s not going to happen. At that point, there was no access to literature. So it was all just me processing things in my head. I would indulge in activities that society presumes as masculine based on what I was seeing in terms of the existing patriarchy we have in the society. I knew for a fact that my identity was different even though I hadn’t come out at that point. Eventually, when I did come out to my friends, they were nothing but supportive. My family. of course. took some time to come to terms with my identity. The first person I came out to was my older sibling. And in 2020, I finally took the plunge, I changed my artiste name; I was socially out there as a transman. 

Correct pronouns, please!

 I was studying music in the US for about four years. And then I stayed back for a couple of years more, and was working there. It was my boss who one day randomly asked me, ‘Would you have preferred pronouns?’ And in my head, I was like, ‘Well, I can do that?’ That started my discovery in terms of having access to those resources, because I could have those conversations in public in the US. With every passing day, I feel more and more comfortable in my own skin. People around me are being absolute allies and they address me correctly. So everything has been affirming around me. For instance, my mother now calls me by my name and the right pronoun. I dislike when I am addressed as a ‘trans artiste’ because then the focus is not on my work, my art. It bothers me a lot, and I call people out; I’m not afraid. It’s very important that you address someone with the correct pronouns. 

Will you be my ally?

 I was traveling from Bengaluru to Delhi recently. And usually when I’m travelling, because they do not check the IDs in the security line, I go with the line based on my gender alignment. This person at the security asked me to stop; picked up my ID, and without my consent, looked at my dead name and asked me to change the line. I did not create an issue because I did not feel safe in that situation. And then at that very moment, the security personnel in the women’s line, said, ‘Oh, you were in the AbsolutAlly ad, right? We’re sorry for what just happened.’ What I am trying to say is that it is very important that information be accessible to people, so based on that, they will address people correctly. Of course, since we are conditioned to think in terms of binary, the unlearning process is hard. But we will have to put in that effort because as soon as you do it, the other individual feels so confident in themselves and they’re able to truly be who they are. The AbsolutAlly stood out because at every step of the entire process of this engagement, they were very particular about how we want to present ourselves, what is our story, what is our narrative, and how can they assist us in sharing that information with the world. I think that was the main thing that I was sold on. 

Musically Jay! 

Loop Lapeta was something that just came my way. It was never my intention to go for playback. But if someone reaches out to me, I’m more than happy to do some good work. I’m not based out of Mumbai or I don’t actively seek out those opportunities. But if something comes my way, I’m more than happy to take it up. I’m working on a single currently. The idea is to ideally release another EP by the end of the year. I have always been invested in music since I was a child. Music has been a part of me; it was a way for me to be able to express myself. My father got early access to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. And I was just six months old at that time. Whenever that song was played, I would dance to it. I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. But I would dance.



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