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Breaking the binary – Tharusha Mudalige

By Mahika Panditha

Hello again everyone! The weekend is coming to a close yet again, and The Sunday Morning Happinez has the honour of speaking with some of the most influential, knowledgeable, and creative people in our beautiful island.

In light of Pride Month, this week we had the chance to speak to an inspiring and stunning young man. His name is Tharusha Mudalige. He is currently a student at Elizabeth Moir School and is quite well-known for his amazing makeup looks which you can check out right now on his Instagram page (@blendsbytharu).

His passions include dance and, of course, makeup. At the moment, his goal is to get into university to study gender, race, and sexuality. I had the pleasure of speaking to him on occasions and he is an extremely kind soul, I must say. His guilty pleasure is watching Love Island on repeat, and a fun fact about him before we dive right in is that he knows a shocking number of weird scientific facts!

Without further ado, check out what Tharusha had to share with the Happinez readers.

First off, you look stunning! Tell us how you got into makeup.

Growing up, I had a lot of internalised homophobia because of the environment I grew up in. Because of this, I tried really hard to suppress any femininity that I felt. However, after learning to accept myself, I decided to celebrate that femininity, and makeup was the best way to express this as well as my inner creativity.

What is your go-to product and why?

My go-to product is the Morphe x James Charles Artistry Palette, simply because it has almost all the colours you would need to get an eyeshadow look to suit any occasion. Not only are the shadows pigmented, but there are also multiple textures like shimmer shades and glitters. I’ve used it for every single look on my makeup account.

What about your go-to brand?

I haven’t really had the opportunity to experiment with many brands. I only own two palettes! But Morphe just doesn’t seem to let me down with any of their eyeshadows.

What is one product you think everyone must have when they get into makeup?

A PAIR OF FALSE LASHES! I cannot emphasise enough how much better a pair of false lashes can make your look. I could be wearing the most basic eyeshadow, but by sticking on some lashes, my look goes from a 1 to a 10. They just make everything look so professional.

As an openly gay young man, tell us about your journey and some ups and downs along the way?

I always knew I was different. That sounds cliché but it’s true. As a kindergartner, I never fit in with any of the other boys and I would fight tooth and nail for the only Snow White costume that they had in the whole montessori. Throughout middle school, I would always gravitate towards the girls and so I would rarely have any male friends.

A year after moving to Sri Lanka, in 2015, I came out to myself. I never felt any sadness or anger towards myself – only just a sense of indifference towards my sexuality. After going to school over here and hearing the many homophobic remarks made by my classmates, I decided that it would be better to keep it to myself. No one questioned my sexuality and I felt safe. I moved schools a year later to the one I’m attending currently. I assumed that just like before, everything would run smoothly, but within the first two weeks of school, a girl sitting next to me in class – who would later go on to be one of my best friends – turned to me and asked me if I’m gay. I panicked and said no, which led to a downward spiral of me pretending to be someone that I clearly wasn’t.

I had divided my personality into two completely different parts because I was so scared of being outed. I came out to a small group of friends later that year but was still closeted to everybody else. After fully embracing my sexuality, one of the hardest things to do was to uphold my true self to everybody I encountered. Coping with the stress of having a semi-conservative mom and a very conservative dad was not easy. I didn’t actually come out to them by choice but was outed by family friends who had my best interest at heart. It took lots of time and effort, but eventually, my parents came around too. It was hard for me to learn to trust them after all the emotional pain they had caused me due to them not understanding where I was coming from.

I remember my mom telling me when I was closeted that if I was ever gay, she would castrate me. This stayed with me for the longest time. It provoked an irrational fear that wouldn’t go away – so much so that If I wasn’t outed, I doubt that I would have come out to them. The funny thing is she doesn’t even remember saying that. After coming out, I lost quite a few of my male “friends”, which, although difficult, helped me realise who the real constants are in my life and I am so thankful for that. Growing up in a country like Sri Lanka sure isn’t easy for anybody who’s a member of the queer community. I wouldn’t change how any of it had played out because it’s allowed me to have a stronger relationship with both my parents and friends whom I love very much.

I’ve been called names and even been threatened with rape for simply being born different. Despite all that me and my fellow queers living here have had to endure, we have to learn to put it in the past. When you grow up in an environment that is toxic and oppressive, it really makes you appreciate the people who relieve those stresses. It makes it easier to find your tribe.

What advice would you give to other queer teens?

Learning to accept myself for who I am is the best thing that I have ever done. Once you are able to love yourself, you are then able to accept the love you deserve.

With that being said, what inspires you to continue to be yourself every day?

My friends continually inspire me to be the best version of myself every day. Without them, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. Ru Paul once said: “As queer people, we get to choose our own families.” And in my case, that is extremely true; my friends are my ultimate family.

If you could give your followers one message, what would it be?

Never let the negative get to you and always focus on the positive. That’s the way I’ve been surviving for this long; I always focus on the positive, unless, by giving attention to the negative, I can use it to educate other people.

Where do you see yourself and your platform in the next few years?

I want to be a good advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and hopefully use the platform I’ve been given to help educate the younger generation to normalise things such as homosexuality. I want anyone struggling with themselves to be able to look at my content and hopefully use that to help heal themselves.