Go within to come out

Jo, Mumbai

I always wondered all through my school and college that why was I so different. When boys laughed and spoke about girls, I was never interested. What was so interesting in it? And why did I never find it interesting?

It was when I got unusually attached to boys and their thoughts kept running in my mind. I realized, my inclinations were unique. But the acceptance did not come so easily. I had hundred questions about myself. There were times when I use to force myself to think about some girl, thinking maybe this is just a PHASE and I will come out of it. Read many articles online just to be sure if I am born correctly and nothing is wrong with me.

After months or may be years of self-doubt and questioning, I finally came to terms with myself. I wouldn’t say I had anyone that time to look upon to or talk to. It was just my own inner conversations happening. I believe self-acceptance is one major milestone to achieve. Because this gives you immense strength and peace within you.

I think coming out is more of a happening than doing. And finally it happened to me. First I came out to my brother. Having a twin is always different. Its different bond. when he use to freely discuss about his love life with his girlfriend. I was always quiet. Never having the courage to express what I felt for the person I loved. So there was a time when we both were dating (he was dating a girl and I was dating a guy). I knew what we felt and how we expressed were almost the same. So, he would understand my feelings. Eventually I came out to him in a coffee shop. The release of the humongous burden from inside me came out in form of tears. Ad he said, “I always knew it, I was waiting for you to tell me. Nothing changes for me”.

All through my experiences and people I met, I realised the issues I had were more emotional and mental. And all this was going within me. More storms were within me than outside me. I was sure, the solution also had to come out from the same place – WITHIN myself. Anything I tried externally would just make me feel good temporarily. Meditation helped me a lot. It gave me immense faith and self-trust. Nothing shook me easily. I was slowly emotionally and mentally strong. Fear of what people will think, their reactions, acceptance or non-acceptance, nothing really mattered or affected.

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After about 3 years of coming out to my brother – recently, I was out to my parents. When relatives in every wedding event keep saying, “ab tumhaaara number bhi lagao toh hum aayenge” (means get married, you are too old!!)I thought its high time I tell them before it’s too late.

It was a Sunday and I decided that I will tell them in the morning itself so that I have the whole day to answer or ease the situation if something went overboard. But with heartbeats running fast and the fear gripping within, it became 7.00 p.m.
I just spoke to one of my friends and he told me something good. He said, “Coming out is like pulling an old band-aid from your wound. You know it will pull your hair and hurt; but still you have to do it. You do it today or after 5 years, it will still feel the same that you are feeling this moment. So, JUST DO IT”. And my brother from the other room sends me a watsapp message – [when r you going to tell them just tell them]. Finally at 8.30p.m. I told them I want to tell you something. And I handed over a letter. There was silence for 15 minutes. So silent, that I thought I had stopped hearing anything around me. No one said anything. They just said, we will talk about it later.

We have never spoken after that day about this. Everything is as normal as it was. I am seeing that they show me more love in subtle ways. But they have never spoken about this.

Like it has been a journey for me, it is a journey for them too.

For me, the next morning was a new morning. I had never felt the closest to myself I had never seen myself so clearly within me. The sense of peace and lightness I felt was so empowering. 

Coming out is going to be difficult, but its WORTH it.

Life felt like a huge mound on me

Syed Ayaan

Bangalore

Acceptance that supersedes any discrimination, may be it gender and sexuality, or for that matter anything that creates barriers. It used to always haunt me why am I not being accepted, what was that something which was so wrong in me? I love, I eat, I pray, I do my chores, I am responsible, and then what is it that was missing?  The only answer that I always used to get is “NOTHING” or probably my love and affection towards my own gender.  “Yes, I am Syed Ayaan and I am Gay”.

It all started when I was in school. I never doubted my sexuality , but I always doubted whether this is something which I should be proud and vocal about, or is this that secret of me which should be kept always under wraps. And as we all know, there are ample reasons to do it, the most evident being surrounded by homophobes. I was not much into the stereo-type boy thing like playing cricket and basketball. My mind used to tickle at the sound of ghungru, or may be poetry would give me freshness. And guess what, I was bullied for it. And adding more to the agony, it was not only the world outside who is calling me names, but my own family used to harass me physically and emotionally. I used to get dejected and rejected by everyone around. At times I would ask myself whether I have a reason to live in this world where I am only greeted with malice. But then to me, leaving the hope is like losing the battle…and I am no looser.

I always used to face questions of not mingling with boys, questions like why I don’t have a girlfriend, as it was so cool and mandatory to have the teenage fling thing. And questions would not stop in those boundaries. It will extend to verbal abuses being hurled with physical torture. These situations were hampering my academics, I was not sure how to overcome it. I tried to concentrate on my studies by isolating myself from the school crowd, but this added to more loneliness. To make things worse my brother and his friends molested me in the name of me being different. My mother and family members threatened me of life if I don’t mend my ways. But what I failed to understand is that ‘what are the WAYS they are asking me to change?’ Any change to the WAYS, changes my whole identity, makes me someone who is not Ayaan, makes me alien to myself.

I stepped into my new institution after I passed my 10th grade. Thought it will bring to me some fresh air of relief, but bad luck did not leave me there too. Some of my school buddies (I prefer to call them otherwise) joined me there, and it was a repetition of history there. My school days of horror was again staged and I withdrew myself into a cocoon. Somehow this time I managed to pull my mind together and concentrate on my studies. And you know with that much of pressure from everybody around you, concentration is the last thing that comes to you. But I did this mammoth task, and somehow succeeded to crack my boards.

College days promised me some change. I still preferred to be in the closet, as I felt it was the safest corner of the world. I made new friends, but the only thing which came as an ongoing question was…”why don’t I have a girlfriend?” Now a question to you all, “Is it mandatory that one should have a girlfriend, keeping at bay the question of my orientation?” “Is it mandatory that all gays should have a boyfriend?” There is so much more to life apart from partners, matrimony, bearing kids. Why everything has to be typically set in the norms of a social institution? Why can’t it be a free flowing ocean? Why can’t it be a will of an individual to lead his/her life the way he/she wants? Food for thought, isn’t it?

I thought having a girlfriend would make life easier, so I opted for a relationship with a college lassie. But her unwanted moves towards getting close to me were hardly responded. I felt awkward, and instead of making things less tensed, it added to my agony. I started diverting my attention to college events and became an active part of it. I left home and started staying with my grandparents as things went beyond my tolerance level in there. But fate had other plans for me. My intruding mom and bothers used to visit me and torture me in my new abode. The fighter in me started to hiss and at more than one time I felt like a rebel. But I had to cut down my inner call because all I wanted to do is to complete my grads peacefully.

Out from colleague I joined a reputed MNC. Life had to be different there. But still I was not confident of whether this is the correct place or people to reveal my true identity. At times I used to doubt myself whether I am gay or not. Probably because of the non-acceptance of the people around me made me doubt my existence. I started revamping my wardrobe. My attitude towards life changed along with my dressing sense.

While I was in college I was introduced to the world of social media and online dating app for gay men. But to my utter bad luck, the only thing which these virtual medium gave me is rejection. Rejection became a shadow to me, an inseparable one. For the first time I felt all my hopes are blown off by the gush of wild wind of people who are like me, and those who aren’t. I questioned my complete existence. I was torn apart thinking that I harbored my hopes on people from my community, who at the end of the day rejects me. Life felt like a huge mound on me.

With days passing by, I started getting messages from the same people who earlier rejected me. They now wanted to be friends with me. I did not know what made this change happen, but change and that too positive is always accepted by me with open arms. I started meeting people from the community. This boosted my confidence that I am not the only one. Listening to their life stories re-kindled my spirit and wish to live, to fight back for who I am. I walked Bangalore Pride and attended the Pride events. This opened to me a galore of people who are out there, who are like me, who fight their own battles, every day, every single moment. Sigh! I was not alone. I accepted myself with peace. The first stepping stone to my identity is self-acceptance (though it came with long time) is done.

Now I am more confident and I wanted to take a step ahead and come out to my colleagues at work place. My heart sank, sweat started rolling down my face, I gasped for breath and life seemed to leave me the day I planned to come out to my office mates. But I had to do this. It’s my life and I will live it the way I want. Accept it or leave it. I came out to my colleagues and they accepted me. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to react and tears rolled down my cheeks. And yes, this time it was tears of joy compared to the unlimited tears of gloom and sadness that I shed earlier. I am a more confident man now. I am Ayaan, who is proud of what he is, who has made a niche for himself with all his effort and will to strive. Now even before my family tries to cross their boundaries of intrusion, I remind them of their mal-deeds that they did to me. I love myself the way I am. I am Ayaan and I am proudly GAY.