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Ayushmann Khurrana Painted His Nails and Called it 'Gender Fluid'. Internet Schooled Him

Trouble occurred when Ayushmann captioned the post with "gender fluid" and a heart emoji. (Credits: GQ cover via Ayushmann Khurrana on Instagram)

Trouble occurred when Ayushmann captioned the post with "gender fluid" and a heart emoji. (Credits: GQ cover via Ayushmann Khurrana on Instagram)

Ayushmann Khurrana wore nail paint and eyeliner in the recent GQ cover, which he shared on Instagram with the caption 'gender fluid'.

Actor Ayushmann Khurrana yesterday shared a photo of his GQ cover, where he can be seen sporting nail polish and kohl. The cover in itself might be a nod towards the increasingly gender non-conforming and androgynous fashion being worn by global celebrities, but trouble occurred when Ayushmann captioned the post with “gender fluid" and a heart emoji. Many, including queer groups on the Internet, found it offensive on the grounds that applying nail polish or wearing any kind of gender-neutral fashion does not make one gender fluid, which is an identity in itself, regardless of fashion. When done by a cisgender heterosexual man, as is being presumed to be the case with Ayushmann since he has made no public statement to the contrary, it veers towards appropriation of queer identities, and in some cases, might even contribute towards queerbaiting. To contextualise the outrage, Bollywood and the film industry in general has had a long-standing problem of casting cisgender heterosexual actors to play transgender and other queer persons’ roles.

On the flip side, some people have said that criticising Ayushmann for wearing fashion that is traditionally not worn by males, it might inadvertently endanger trans persons who are yet to come out of the closet or make any sort of public statement but have been attempting to be as authentic to themselves as possible under the circumstance. That said, the problem still persists with Ayushmann’s usage of the words “gender fluid", which queer groups have called appropriation of marginalised identities. Ayushmann seems to have since deleted his tweet, but the Instagram post is up on his profile (at the time of writing this article).

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Queer awareness-raising group ‘Yes We Exist’ explained their standpoint in an Instagram post. “Gender-fluid people can identify as different gender identities at the same time or at different times," they wrote.

Recently, Ayushmann’s upcoming film starring Vani Kapoor in the role of a trans woman received similar criticism for perpetuating the practice of casting a cisgender woman in the role of a transgender person. While Ayushmann is usually lauded for taking on roles that traditional Bollywood “heroes" might not touch with a three-foot pole, people on social media are of the opinion that blunders such as this one could severely hurt the precarious social position that marginalised persons occupy in India. Ayushmann has previously starred in ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan’ in the role of a gay man, which, even though it does the bare minimum in terms of representation or even art, was lauded for being progressive for its context.

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first published:December 01, 2021, 10:12 IST