just a little more courageous!

Ankit Rastogi

Bangalore

It was 2012 when I had my first brush with the reality that someone can be “Gay”.

It was an ordinary weekend and my dear friend Ram finally agreed to meet over lunch. He can be quite difficult to get hold off over phone or otherwise so this meeting was a rare gift. During the course of conversation Ram told me about his sexual orientation.

And here was my reaction, on the inside –
1) Seriously!!!
2) But I kind of knew
3) Is he going to be fine? I hope he doesn’t get a lot of shit from people for this
4) Heck…what does this mean?

On the outside –
1) That is so courageous of you!
2) Good for you!

When I came back home that day and thought over it more, I was really awed by the amount of courage he had really shown in accepting himself and in coming out. So I dedicated the following post to him – http://ankit-rastogi.blogspot.in/2011/10/charge-of-light-brigade.html

All awesome up to the point, right? Well now starts the real story.

A couple of weeks later, I met Ram again for coffee. I do not know what we talked about but I know what I kept thinking – “what will other people think of me when they see us?”

You see, I wasn’t all that courageous.

Now I had up to this point always considered myself a very open minded person. But this meeting and what went through my mind challenged me to the very core. It disturbed me to the point that I thought about not meeting someone I had called a very dear friend and avoid him. It really wouldn’t have been that difficult given that you really need to make an appointment to meet him. You see my shallow thinking was at the verge of costing me my dear friend.

So I did what anyone would normally do in this situation. I decided I needed to know more about this new thing I’ve been introduced to. I remembered Ram mentioning some dating site, so i went ahead and joined it. And for two days I was bombarded with messages from other gay men. So, I did the next best thing and quit. This experience had me realize two things –
1) It didn’t matter
2) Our friendship was more important to me than my shallow thoughts and insecurities and hence I needed to get over them

Its 2018 and man I am glad I have Ram at my side. He has stood by me in every up and down in my life and I sure hope we continue to do so.

It really doesn’t matter, does it? Who you decide to love? It’s really difficult to find someone who you love and who can love you back, should we really begrudge someone that basic human right?

And really what does change about someone when they come out? Really nothing. What really does change is your assumption about them. They really just remain the same person they were before – just a little more courageous!

I’ll end it again with this blogpost, this time dedicated to all the people out there who have shown the courage to accept

The original poem The Charge of the Light Brigade

 

Narnia

Let me tell you a story, A story about a person. Meghana was born on 7th of May 1999. Happy and healthy,they weren’t prepared for the world ahead. At the age of 15, Meghana felt a very different set of emotions for a senior, a beautiful girl this senior was. Meghana then realised that something is different. This was not in the biology books, this was not something their parents spoke about. Now you see there are two parts of this story. Let me tell you my story.

My definition of attraction changed when I met her, she was beautiful and fabulous and I was always found speechless in her presence. Now this feeling I had, I was never exposed to. I took about 6 months to accept myself and then I did. Now accepting is only the beginning. I started to learn, I had an intimate relationship with learning and exploring. I explored my sexuality, learnt and understood that I’m not alone and I have my lovely community. The first person I confided in was my friend and she seemed okay but months later my messages took rounds and I was devastated as from my small town, I could only think of the humiliation I would face. I went to length and bounds to talk to the people and I was outed to complete strangers. That’s when depression hit, I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore.

A few months later I got my acceptance letter and flew away to a university in another country and I felt freedom, I learnt more about myself and I dated the first girl, I dated her and loved her, well that was my perception of love at the time. Time passed by! I came down to visit my family, so I flew back but I was still in love with my girl. I felt lovely when she was around and one day I got a call at a very odd hour telling me that my girlfriend, took her own life. I wanted to know why. It was cuz her parents didn’t accept her sexuality. All the confidence I had to come out to my parents? Gone. Just like the wind. After a month of just silence and anxiety. I sat my dad down, we decided to watch all the Narnia movies. I then turned to him and said, you see all the adventure, happiness and love that they get in the closet, I only wish they could bring it outside the closet. That was the first step.

You see I come from a very orthodox family who doesn’t really believe in love to begin with, but my parents were gems. I once wrote a mail down to my dad, “Good Evening Papa. I have to tell you something. I’ve been keeping it a secret for too long. I’m pansexual. I’m more attracted to girl and I’ve had a girlfriend in the past. Please don’t tell this to Amma, she’s not ready to hear this. Remember Narnia, I want to bring out the happiness and adventures outside the closet. I’m sorry, please accept me. I love you unconditionally.” My heart skipped a beat when I sent him this mail, I was scared. I sat on the floor crying, praying that he doesn’t ask me to pack my bags.

Now you see with my mom, she still doesn’t accept it but she doesn’t say anything against it. I sat her down and just said it, she walked away into the room. She cried and didn’t talk to me for days. She was disgusted when I smiled at her but now she has come to terms with it. She loves me unconditionally no matter what. Now let’s come to the part where I came out to everybody I knew, Instagram was the best way. I added the words pansexual to by bio and I put up a story, which was it. My direct messages were flooded and I got a lot of support initially but most of the other messages were just that the person was lost and he/she didn’t know what it means. Now in the meantime of all this I knew from the time I could understand the word he and she, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the facts that I had to be labelled. Now I was confused if I was genderfluid or didn’t like being specified into a gender. Then I realised that I got irritated the moment someone said she or he and then I realised, now this was hard explaining to my family but my cousins and everyone who loves me dearly respect my pronouns. Back to Instagram, I updated it as Agender pansexual, now I thought it would be support or just being lost but this was the first time I got a death threat in the mail, then multiple calls shaming me on the phone. I got followed, thrown stones at and I lost a lot of friends and family. I will in the future too. There will be people who don’t understand it but to every one of you I shall say only one thing. If you are opening up, do it with pride and confidence because believe me when I say everyone has their own tale of Narnia in that closet. Bring the adventure, emotions, love, hate, challenges, joy and happiness out into this world, we all need it.

Everyone deserves to be happy and comfortable with their own soul. Love yourself and let no one take it away from you. So pick up your crown, Be the mighty Aslan and take your life into your hands. Express the beauty inside you. In the end I can say only one thing, Love wins, whatever the factors may be one, love made us, love brings us together and can destroy the most evil forces. Love free, live free.

 

(I)dentity – My Journey…

Anonymous

I am the second and youngest child to my loving parents, raised in a Malayali Catholic family in Northern India. I was a shy kid and my memories go back to my childhood days when I was 7 perhaps. My parents found their joy in me and they didn’t leave any stones unturned to bring me up soothingly. My sister was always protective of me and we grew playing our own invented games. Christmases and Easters were largely celebrated, and we shared other festivals as our own. We truly lived and cherished unity in a diverse lifestyle and culture. The biggest predictors of my family’s happiness wasn’t linked to money or luxury, instead it was our faith in each other, lessons on compassion and selfless commitment to human kind. To the outside observer, I was living the most contented life. I grew up with a sense of belonging and a feeling of something larger, yet there was something missing within me. This missing portion was nothing materialistic, rather it was an intimidating and scary feeling of being different from other boys. I was emotionally inclined towards boys and the feeling was not subtle. Yes, that’s right- I was “different” and I sensed it at a very tiny age.

I am guessing that my differences were evident. Thereby started series of bullying, discrimination and rejections. I was differentiated not just by my friends but sometimes their parents and mostly by adults. I was too little to term these feelings, but it made me unhappy. I remember, the small prayers that my mother taught me. I added mine into it and asked God a lot of innocent but tough questions. I prayed to help me become like other boys. There were many nights spent with bad dreams and dry tears when I wake up. Since I didn’t have a friend to share my feelings with, I bottled my thoughts and abhorred myself.

It is said that a child’s good or bad fortune starts from home. For me, it was a bad fortune. It was just after my 8th birthday and end of wintertime. My father was deputed for 15 days to another town by Indian Army, my mom was working her night shifts at the hospital and my sister was away on an outing. We called my cousin and his friend to come over for my well-being. They were 2nd year science students and respectable members in the family. My cousin was our role model and we adored him a lot. This dark night, during their stay at my home I was sexually molested by them. I didn’t know what they were exactly doing or why they were doing so, but I knew it was all wrong. I was shattered, my body was in pain that I had never known and my soul was filled with fear. I didn’t even know that I was raped, I was just eight years old to even articulate the incident. The breach of trust was awful. I couldn’t bear the experience beyond a point and ran to my sister’s room. I sat under her study table, still thinking, scared and shivering. I cried like a small baby, unknown of my next step. I locked the room and sat under the table that whole night. I was awake till the dawn next day. This incident shuddered my life-force, it further swelled my low esteem and it was hard to communicate with people. For days, I didn’t attend school and my sister was a close watcher. She saw me scared out of my wit. Her multiple attempts to get me talking about the incident made her realise that I didn’t know how to explain it. Finally she convinced me to write down my feelings on a piece of sheet and I found that was an easy way. It took me a while to write down my feelings, it was hard to explain in words. I wrote a long letter and gave it to my sister. I remember running out to our garden after handing the letter and waited for her. In about ten minutes she reached out to me in total shock. She didn’t know what to ask me, neither did I know what more to speak. She ran her fingers through my hair and pressed me closer to her. We both wept. My sister was even more hurt because our cousin was involved in the crime. In no time, she decided to confront my cousin. That evening, we both went to his home and she bravely probed him. He reluctantly agreed to the incident and my sister warned him. On our way back home, we didn’t speak a word but our thoughts were deep. My sister was still restless, and she decided to narrate the incident to our parents. We all went to the police station. Upon narrating the whole incident, the police officer said, “How can a male get raped? There is no such law and this is not a strong case- you will all run in circles and waste your money and energy”. They refused to even file a complaint. I believe this incident didn’t allow me to live my childhood, instead I emotionally and spiritually grew beyond my actual age. The questions pertaining to this incident still remains unanswered- “Why was I sexually abused and molested by my own relative at a tender age? “. Like any other vulnerable case, this one went under cover and we all chose not to speak about it. It was easy for us not to speak though, but has never been easy for me to forget that night till date. It is terrible that people don’t believe that even boys and men can get raped. I was and I am not alone in this world.

Moving on from my past and growing up, my sexual orientation became clearer to me.

On one side I was immensely getting attracted to other boys, other side I had conflicts between my Christian values and teachings that prohibits alternate sexuality. The mission to be more closer to God, led me to hate myself for being attracted to other boys.

Therefore I started behaving like other boys. In my early teens, I mixed up with other classmates and participated in all conversations that a regular teenager would do. I laughed and giggled on their jokes, spoke their language and adapted their lifestyle. But the harsh reality was that I was not happy pretending to be someone else. I knew in my bones that I am fitting into something that I am not made for. How much would I act, after all my classmates knew I wasn’t like them. They called me names, bullied, hit me on my head or back and even hid my school bag many times. I was never allowed to play games as none of them wanted me on their team. Mutely I used to sit near the music hall and watch them all playing football and cricket, while my legs swung. I don’t think there was a single grade that I didn’t face mistreatment. Each passing year I met a bunch of new boys who laughed at me and passed comments that I didn’t deserve. I gulped everything and paid less attention and it taught me to become more resilient and patient in life.

It was during recess one day- I saw a guy similar to my age and grade from another division, smiled at me from a distance. I smiled back. We crossed roads during later part of the day. He walked up to me and we spoke a bit. His name is Sanjay*. I realised in no time that Sanjay* is a person with mental disability. We became friends and for the first time in so many years, I found a friend. He had a huge smile on his face every time and held my hand when we ran through the corridor. But Sanjay’s* story was not different from mine. He hates school because of constant bullying faced due to his disability. A few stories that he narrated made me feel that I am listening to my own life episodes. We both were victims of different circumstances, yet so connected. It was our daily routine to share and quickly finish lunch and then play games for some time. One day as usual we both sat down at our regular spot to have lunch. It was different that day and both of us didn’t see it coming. A group of guys from our respective classes walk up to Sanjay* and ploughed their hands into his lunch box. Topping that, they laughed at him and ate his entire food. Sanjay* was ashamed and equally angry. With full strength he kicked one of the boys. Perhaps, this was the first time I saw another side of Sanjay*. This infuriated the gang and they started hitting on his head from all direction. Sanjay* couldn’t balance them all and ran in circles. The sight shook my soul and I ran into the mob to push them away from him. The boys in turn started hitting me and for the first time I got into a fist fight with them. I saw Sanjay* crying and this incident aggravated his ailment. He shouted and threw stones at the boys. I was still hitting a guy rolling on the ground while another guy from behind pulled my hair and swayed my head in the air. The scene turned out violent and the school admins were alerted. None of us were allowed to step back to our classrooms and Sanjay* was taken to the hospital. For the first time in my life, I was loud against mistreatment and injustice. I heard Sanjay’s* situation got worse because of the tremor and since then I never saw my friend. His parents enrolled him into another school. Today, I still wonder from where did I mustered the strength to fight the boys, why was I so furious towards discrimination? Had Sanjay not taken the first step to confront his tormenters, perhaps I wouldn’t have had recognized my inner strength that was hidden all these years. I am not trying to say that a physical fight displays the right manners of strength but it was definitely the first time in my life that I stood up against a wrong practise. I miss Sanjay but he taught me a grave lesson. There is no space for discrimination and no one should to be bullied. Everybody deserves respect and love- irrespective of built, disability, sexual choices, gender, background, caste, colour, ethnicity and creed.

During my college days I was still dealing with my inner conflicts around sexuality. While everybody were living their youth, I was busy learning more about sexualities and different forms of orientation in a human being. Between 19 and 23 years I read a lot of books- both mythology and science, met people from the various spaces of education dealing with sexuality, spoke to counsellors, parents and teachers. It was during this phase that I became knowledgeable about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transwoman, Transman, Intersex, Pansexual, Asexual and other dimensions of sexual identities. On my way I met many survivors who faced immense torture from society because of their sexual identities. I met folks who were disowned by their own families because they belonged to minority group of sexual identity or expression. Each story was unique.

I did a project on Transgender during my third year in graduation. I took up this project because of my growing inquisitiveness about the Trans world. I have only known them as a bunch of tough people who roam around public spaces asking money, sing songs during Indian weddings and pick fights. But I was curious to learn their history, lifestyle and the whole community in itself. The project duration was for three months. I visited them every week at different corners of the city where they lived. I must say this, by the end of three months I just had respect for them. They are ostracized by the main stream society and treated as untouchables. Then, they didn’t have rights to cast vote or have government identity cards. They couldn’t apply for any jobs and lived on mercy of others, begged on streets and earned perks via prostitution. They welcomed me to their small knitted community. I observed that’s a space where nobody would like to go and explore. There was something very startling that I noticed during my research. There were a few children in their homes, ageing 7 months to 13 years. I enquired about the children and they said,

“They are our children and we are parenting them”.

They explained further that these kids were abandoned by the biological parents for various reasons- some were born with visible/invisible disability, mixed gender, out of illegal relationships, while others were abandoned just because they were female babies while the biological parents desired sons. With the help of their network, the Trans gender persons adopted these kids and are bringing them up as their own. The sight moved me within. Two Sundays later, in the church, it was my turn to give the youth message. I couldn’t hold up my emotions and started my speech saying, “I have always been on lookout of Jesus in the churches. I never found him here. For the first time in 23 years of my church life, I found Jesus in the corners of the Trans community. I found peace, true love and service amongst this abandoned section of the society”. By end of my speech, I felt the heat in the church. It was a daring act to pick a subject that main line traditional Christians do not like to touch upon. Many didn’t like the fact that I researched on Trans lives. I got a call from the parish’s office and I knew what was coming my way. In my meeting with the priest, a kind person, I was asked a lot of tough questions around the youth speech I gave. I was able to answer all of that, and none of these answers were fabricated. In our conversation, I came out to the priest about my own sexuality and he seemed to be upset about it. Even before I reached home after the meeting, I got an e-mail from the church requesting to step down from the youth council as I could be a potential bad influence to others and that I need counselling for some time. I was very upset reading that e-mail. I thought church is a place where all are accepted, just like Jesus accepted all. In my reply e-mail to the church, I thanked them for the decision they made and mentioned,

 

“By removing me from this church, you have done a huge favour. You have distanced me from this church, but pushed me closer to humanity and God”.

The quench for acceptance from others became less relevant, it was rather more significant for me to accept myself at the first place. I agreed that there is nothing greater in life than to be honest to oneself and I will be leading a life full of fabrications, unless I accept myself. It was not the society that hated me, rather it was I who didn’t love myself. I remember sitting down one day, and took a sheet to write down my blessings. I wrote down everything- my talents, achievements, good occasions, happy moments, good decisions, people who mattered to me and luxuries. To my amazement, my list of blessings went from one sheet to another. This activity had a deep impression on my mind and I said to myself, “What am I unhappy for? What am I crying about? Why didn’t I count my blessings? Why did I focus so much over grief?”  I accepted myself inside out, including my sexuality. I realised that nobody can understand my body other than me. This led me to come out proudly to my sister and slowly to my friends. Further I grasped that I don’t have to wear my sexuality on my sleeves. I don’t have to explain it to people anymore. How many heterosexuals walk and talk about their sexuality? No sane successful society is made up of only one kind of people. Societies are always open to diversities in religion, language, work, sexualities and ethnicity.

I realised in all its capacity that everybody is as normal as you and me.

I can’t accept others until I forgive all those people who harmed me in my growing years.

After 18 years, I wrote an e-mail to my cousin and his friend who raped me, forgiving them for what they did. I wrote another e-mail to a group of friends who bullied me in college. Life is a circle of deeds and which is why my old church called me early this year to do a talk on Transgenders and alternate sexualities. I accepted the offer and along with another group, panelled an awareness session. Additionally, I got a chance to volunteer for certain LGBT, gender, persons with disabilities and child abuse organizations in India.

Since then, my journey didn’t stop. My inspiration comes from lives of many people who were torn apart by the prejudiced main stream societies, yet they stood up and fought their own battle. Each of us have our own battles to fight. In this judgemental world, we can’t keep all happy. But what we can do is perhaps be true to ourselves and be tolerant to others. It’s always kind to appreciate others and accept them irrespective of their background. We need to be cognizant about the truth that there are people with alternate sexualities all around us- workplace and homes. Some are visible and many are invisible living discreet lives due to fear of discrimination. Do not think it’s a mental disorder or deliberate choices. Homosexuality or any other alternate sexuality is just another form of sexual orientation as Heterosexuality. Medical Science, ancient religion and new age studies have all approved of it. Your children, siblings, friends and neighbours need you to accept them, do not abandon anyone. There is no joy in unscrambling and being judgemental about someone’s body that you don’t own.

The three simple messages that I have for anyone would be:-

  • Be true to yourself and others. Honesty is a priceless treasure. Do not be afraid to speak the truth
  • Don’t give space for fear in your life. Be humble when you are wrong and voice out when you are right- both are acts of a fearless person
  • Love and kindness is more powerful than judgements. You may not know the other side of the story always, so stop discrimination

 

My all-time favourite is a gospel song that defines “love” so apt. It goes like this…

“Love is patient, caring. Love is kind. Love is felt most when it’s genuine

But I’ve had my share of love abuse, manipulated and its strength misused

And I can’t help but give you glory, when I think about my story

And I know you favoured me, because the world tried but couldn’t triumph over me. Yes they did try but couldn’t triumph over me…”

 

**All images are representative, original source linked to the images.

The Butterfly Effect

Anonymous

Bangalore

During my childhood, I used to wonder why I was attracted to a few boys in my school but no girls at all. I wouldn’t say that I discovered my sexual orientation at a very young age, but there was something that always bothered me.

As I was growing up I began to realize that I was not alone but it wasn’t considered normal. I too had no desire to explore why I was attracted to boys the way boys were attracted to girls or girls to boys.

Internet had not arrived yet, the only source of information one had were the newspapers and the national TV channel. I guess if I had access to the internet then maybe I had done some search or reading?

Anyways, time passed and I was in college. Till school, either mom or dad was always with me wherever I went. Now I was traveling home-college-home all by myself. Dad didn’t buy me a two-wheeler so it was all public transport. Soon I realized that everything I had heard about women being harassed or molested even in public places wasn’t something limited to the female gender only. Whether it was transport or college, they were everywhere waiting to prey on you. I quickly learned that my safety was in my own hands, from confused to scared to stand up for myself against these predators was my journey till college came to an end. Access to internet played a big role in my life as it was the only source of information that helped me learn about myself. Now I knew that I was gay and I wasn’t ashamed of it.

You must be wondering why I am talking about my college life?

What I saw and learned during those days further pushed me to keep my orientation a secret. I knew better and knew that I had to pretend to be straight. I knew that it would have made me vulnerable and a soft target had anyone figured out that I was gay.

After college, I moved to Bangalore and thus began the Corporate life. Continued to pretend and slowly figured that Bangalore had its very own gay life. I never tried to find more about it but was always curious. I was aging into the life’s phase where my colleagues and friends were getting hitched and the obvious question came to me too.

Dad passed away due to a terminal illness, it was difficult times with my siblings in College. I felt that I had greater responsibilities on my shoulder than worrying about myself. Few more years passed, my siblings had started working and were no longer dependent on me.

Again, I had my life in front of me. I couldn’t take it anymore, I had started to feel guilty that I was lying to my family and friends. I decided that I should tell everyone. I posted it on my Facebook wall and didn’t check my account for the next 24 hours. What I had not realized is that the majority of folks on my friends’ list were from my work. I was nervous and even wanted to delete the post but the cat was out of the bag already! The next day I logged into my Facebook account and witnessed what I could have never imaged in my wildest of dreams. My wall was flooded with appreciation & encouragement. Some even wrote to me privately that they now respected me more for coming out to them. I even got messages from my colleagues in international locations stating how happy they were to learn about me.

But it wasn’t over, I was yet to come out to my family. I wrote an email to my siblings and was surprised that they supported me. It was my mother who took time to come to terms with it. She didn’t speak to anyone for over a week after I had told her that I was gay. She had a lot of questions and didn’t know who to ask. She was confused same as I was once. It took a couple of years but she came along.

And then the ultimate happened, I met the love of my life! I had never thought that I would pursue someone but here I was expressing my love and care for the one and only. He said yes and since then life is beautiful and progressive. It all happened fast, we met with each other’s family soon after we got into the relationship. Yes, our families know about us and our relationship and everyone is happy.

You must be thinking that everything I wrote above is positive so where is the struggle, where is that part that everyone looks for when a gay man tells his story. I want everyone to know ‘what’ creates that positive experience, ‘what’ allows you to be yourself without the fear of being judged and alienated. It’s the ACCEPTANCE of your family, friends, and colleagues.

You can fight the World if you have your close and loved ones who love you back and support you for who you are.

Acceptance from family and friends and acceptance at the workplace have played a crucial role in shaping my life, the life that I live today. I didn’t know anything about the outcome when I made the decision to tell them about my sexual orientation. It’s their love and support that has inspired me to drive inclusion, to provide that positive and encouraging platform for our LGBT friends.

Your acceptance, be it a family member or a friend or someone at your workplace or your neighbor, will go a long way in helping us live a better and happier life!

PC: All images have their source linked.

Yes I am a half male and a half female!

I am Daniel Francies Mary Mendonca, I look like a male, but I identify myself as a women and with this statement I write my story. From the bottom of my heart I thank Ram for doing this great work in getting brave story in front of the world.

Yes I am a half male and a half female. To say these words to the world and make myself comfortable with the statement has taken me long years. It has never been easy to come out of the closet and explain myself to the world, but with time, coming out to the world has filled me with happiness and joy. Through this life journey there was only one person who was next to my heart, which was none other than my friend, my savior, my love “JESUS”. Today with faith and convection I say to the world “I am in love with a man whose name is JESUS”.

I am happy that I am what I am. Looking at my past reminds me of all pain, discrimination, hatred and all form of violence that I have face being an “INTERSEX” person. It was never easy to face this in the, so called normal world.

I was born as a conjoin twin. My sister and I shared my one body. We were one body two heads. Difficult to digest the fact, but the work of nature and the hands of Gods created this wonder. As soon as we were born my sister was born dead. So the doctors took the decision of separating my sister from me. Form outside I looked like a male, but the doctors said that, though he looks like a male he has women organ inside his body this term basically called as hermaphrodite or INTERSEX. The doctor told my parents that your child is a eunuchs. My father, when he came to know this he abandoned me. A child who has just come to this world, doesn’t even know who his parent is, is rejected for who he is, is rejected because of his gender, is rejected because the child is a eunuch. At that very time my aunt who’s my father’s sister adopted me as her own child, she said that

if this child is born the way he is born, there must be God’s plan in creating the way the child is.

Having parents I was given to someone one, having parents but still I was an orphan.

Life continued, right from the time I was small I knew that I was different and the world around me did not leave a single chance of abusing me and making me feel out of this world as if I was an alien that was born on another planet. I never received fatherly attention, my relative always ignored me, and I was always kept behind of attending any religious and family function. Everyday became a questioning day, not single day of my childhood has been a happy day, my age children enjoyed childhood and I enjoyed the loneliness around me. The silence of fear, the silence of voice, the silence of being who you are were all over me.

The time came to me to go to school, the biggest mistake that my family made was putting me in Boys high school. As I was growing up in the school I was the only girl in the school. My teachers my school friends always used to taunt me, tease me and always insult me for who I was. Whenever I used to go to the washroom my senior always use to pull my pants to see what organ I would have down. I have been abused and also my seniors have tried to rape me, but with God’s grace I have been lucky enough to be saved. It was just not the situation at school, in home also when my own cousin brother tried to rape me, I thought at that age who am I, when I shared that incident with my parents, I still remember the words my father told me, it is ok if people use you for sex because people like you are born to serve the society. When people enjoyed their childhood I enjoyed the silence within me. When children played, I played with my questions, the only question asking myself who am I?

The time came that the truth be revealed to me, the question would end but I never expected this would be the way. I was in 4th Std,  9 and a half years old. It was an usual day I went to school, but before I left for school from home I told mom that my stomach was paining. She thought I was just making excuses and sent me to school. I went to school, after the lunch hour, I came back to class suddenly I felt strong pain in my stomach. I ran to the loo, like never before, I had just removed my pants because I felt something coming out of my stomach. I removed my pants and my ass broke into two parts along with the intestine came out my first menstruation. I opened my eyes after 3 days and I found myself in a hospital in London. It was possible to admit me in London because my aunt who had adopted me, her boss took me for treatment in London, so that I could be saved. I asked the doctor what happened, he said there was no place for your menstruation to come out, my child you are different and unique, and you are just here for your treatment.

The treatment went for long 8 years I spent in the hospital. In 8 years of my life in the hospital I have gone through 29 major operation and 19 minor operation and it was only to see how my body is working. Only my aunt was there with me my parents never bothered to ask how I was. It is in this hospital where I came to knew about myself. I tried committing suicide three time and with God’s grace I was saved. The doctors took a decision that they will give me religious counselling. That was the time when thing changed.

This was the time when I met my best friend JESUS, through the Holy Bible. I was very keen to know if there were people like me and what has God to say about people like me. I always cursed myself and God for who I was. But then I came to the verse which changed my whole life and the verses were (Isaiah 56:4-5), Jeremiah 1:5-7). These verses have changed my life.

Slowly as day passed JESUS become close to me and I become close to him. Personnel relationship started to develop with him and I become comfortable with myself. The sooner I accepted myself the way I was the better I felt of myself. Days passed and I was happier than ever. It was declared by the doctors that I had a female organ inside my body so it would be better to change my sex and become a full fledged women. I also was ready for the operation, but just few hours before the operation I decided not to go for the operation and reason was

I will stay in this world with my original identity

and not become  who I am not. Finally 8 years of my life was over in this hospital it was time to decide whether to continue in London or come back to India. It was not easy for me to decide but yet I chose to come down to India, the only reason being is I wanted to show my parents specially my father that an intersex child can also take care of the parents and live a dignified life.

I came to India, it was difficult for me at start and very stressful to be with family, but my mother was always there with me to support me. I wanted to study so with the help of my mom and aunt I was able to study. I gave my private SSC board, I had never even touched my book before and never done formal schooling but with the help of teacher I was able to complete my SSC and even passed the examination. I wanted to study future. I joined college it was again a challenge everyone in the college should teased me, I had no friends. One day I stood up in the college and shared my life story to each and everyone in the class, I started saying that “I am happy to be who I am and I am proud of my sexuality & gender”. After sharing my story things changed I had friends who now understood me and I began to get respect in the college for who I was. It was then I got the biggest opportunity of my life I was selected to represent UN from India on the issues of  LGBTIQ+.

With the help of my mother, aunt and friends life continued. I topped the 12th grade and for further studies took up Bachelor of Social Work. The reason being, I wanted to contribute to the issues of LGBTIQ+ in Indian society. My dream was and is to make society inclusive for gender minority community. It was not easy again to survive in the college and in the society but I made the way through proving my existence and fought for my rights in every stage of my life.

This was my special moment of life when NCCI of churches Fr Philip & Fr Thomas entered into my life. My first journey with them began in Anand (Gujrat) where I was invited to share my story and the friendship with NCCI took me all over India to make people and churches realize the diversity of gender. I realized that God was using me for this work and to bring a new revolution that will definitely create a history in days to come. The journey of NCCI had not only made me grown up mentally but also spiritually.

Today the same world looks at me differently. Today I am working in YUVA as a Community organizer, I am a living testimony of Christ, today I work in the church and take Sunday school, and I am part of youth group. This was only possible because I had accepted myself and the world around me accepted me the way I am. The only difference was I had to prove my existence every day of my life. Today life is much happier but the struggle is on. The day will come when people will accept gender minority and there will be no discrimination in this society.

People will accept the diversity of God and justice will prevail in the Kingdom of God.

I remember the word of the famous writer who says “when you were born you cried while the world rejoiced, when you die let the world cry, while you rejoice.” I am a drop in the vast ocean of world contributing towards the life of gender minority people in this world.

 

PC: Images source linked to the images!

I care for you a lot

Ajay Redij

It’s a journey about gratitude, love, care, principles, dreams and many more. It’s about my spiritual journey as a human being. I was born in well-educated and culturally sound family. Life has been a roller-coaster ride till date. What makes us lucky to be living beings is that we can know, understand, feel and respond to everything around us, isn’t it?

I came to terms about my sexuality much later, because I always avoided the topic myself. I would attribute my adolescence to “A birth of a river through the glaciers of feelings and emotions, which went deep underground to be discovered later.” I still remember weird dreams that I used to get, where I used to see a world of only men. My logical mind used to poke me about, “How will in this ‘World of Men‘, people will get married to each other?” Since then I have been living two lives. I used to be an ideal kid in family. And the other who was curious about emotional ups and downs happening inside me. I used to avoid the inner voice because, I was afraid of his feelings and I was protecting by hiding him in the deepest parts of my mind. Academically, I was average kid. Music was always my savvier. I am a good singer and used to sing in school programs.

10 years passed by and I was in second year of academic life. Everything was going well with my regular academics and personal life. And then one fine day, I got a huge crush on a guy, those were mixed feelings of joy and fear. I had no option than getting over those feelings. I overcame those situations somehow, but I was hurt. Was totally devastated from inside, was totally heart broken. I was literally ashamed of myself. Time passed and I completed my graduation and opted for Post-Graduation. My post-graduation was more of struggle for everything from my academic, personal and private life. I was in depression. And it was affecting everything around me. My mom used to notice and ask me about “what’s going on?” But I was not able to utter a single word. She already had been through a lot. My depression overtook me so bad that I was on anti-depressant medication for 2 months with counselling sessions. I was not able to tell my problems to my psychiatrist, due to fear of rejection. I used to feel I am only one who is going through this.

And finally I had failed my final exams. That time my situation was like, I had already been placed in a company, I had qualified NET lectureship and I had failed my final exam. I was staying alone in apartment, since I had shifted for job in new city. Those 2 months when I was living on my own and going through all this. I used to keep reading about it. Internet was big help to understand what exactly I was feeling. I came to know that, I was not only one who had been through this. There were many others. I used to see YouTube videos of people expressing their thoughts and that was helpful. I was trying to stay strong, but I was at the verge of going mad. I had read about coming out. How to tell someone about yourself and everything related. One day my elder sister called me and had a nice regular chat. I don’t remember what exactly she said, but that some statement triggered something inside me and I broke into tears. I felt similar feeling as if close beloved one’s death. I was not able to understand, why am I feeling that way? I didn’t eat anything for 2 days. I was having just water to survive and used to cry a lot when alone, which I used to be most of the times. I was realizing that one of my two personalities had died inside me and the one which I used to fake that was the one. I took a decision to commit suicide. 

But before that, I just wanted to give a try: how if I come out to someone so that if I get a support it will be like, “getting a support of stick for a drowning person.” If not than suicide option was already there. I could only think about my best friend in this matter. He told me that he was planning to come for an interview in my city. When we met I got really scared to utter a word about it, I went into complete silence. Then after a deep breath I said, “I wanted to share something with you about me that I have never told to anyone and it’s my big secret.” I just opened website of PFLAG and opened web page of FAQs for the close ones of LGBT. That page has answers to all the questions which come in mind of close ones when someone opens up about sexuality to them. He read it, and looked at me in eyes and asked, “What is it? Why did you give me this?” I said, “I never said about this to anyone, since 12 years. I have been living two lives, one is what you see me as and another is one I am protecting since I realised that I like boys and have no interest in girls. I feel very ashamed of myself and feel very depressing about it. I had taken decision of committing suicide. But to give a last chance I just wanted to tell and see the response about it.” He listened to what I said carefully and said, “See Ajay, why you are ashamed of yourself when you have made your family and every one of us proud by your achievements? Look at your achievements, you are so passionate about your research and you also have qualified NET lectureship. Doesn’t that makes you feel good? I don’t care about whom you like or what you are! You are good human being and that is what matters to me.” I broke into tears and couldn’t believe my ears for some time about what he just said. That moment was first moment of joy I had after so long-time. I felt like I saw a ray of light just passed through some hole in the dark room where I was trapped since many years. Some barrier had been broken and had made water of the river to gush towards its destiny. I did reveal to him that at some point of time I had crush on him and we chuckled and laughed it off.

It was time for my re appearing for my October attempt and I had taken exam leave for a month from my company. I went home and was preparing for my exams. One night during dinner, there was a news about Lady Gaga visiting India for her show in New Delhi around 30th October 2011. In an interview she was talking about her album “Born this way” and about LGBT rights. I just casually asked mom, “What do you think about these people?” She was watching this interview and she looked at me in analytical way and said, “What we can say about them? They are also humans like us.” I was bewildered and surprised about her response.

A day went by, I was preparing for my exams, and my sister came to see if I needed any help in preparations. She is my sweetheart. She has always been with me no matter what. She asked is there anything she can do for me. I was at the edge of breaking down, my eyes were red, throat completely dried. I looked in to her eyes and said, “I wanted to tell you something. “She became very concerned about me. I broke into tears and she got emotional and said, “Tell me whatever it is, no matter what I have been and will be there for you.” I said, “Since 12 years I have been hiding half of my identity, I have been living dual lives.” I couldn’t speak any more & gave her my diary. She went through and after few lines and said, “Ajay, I am not able to understand what this is all about. Please, tell me clearly”. I said, ” I am in depression Tai, I was ashamed of myself for being gay. I had decided to commit suicide”.She interrupted me in anger and said,” Why do you want to even think about suicide? Whenever such thoughts come to your mind remember how much efforts and sacrifices Mom and Dad have taken so that you become a better person in this world? How will we siblings feel devastated if such things happen? Ajay, right now I am shocked and not able to understand how to respond. This all thing is new to me and I need time. But you need to focus on studies now.” And we started studying.

Day of exam approached and she came to drop me. As quite obvious, I couldn’t perform well in exam. In between when I was in exams, my sister told mom about me. I came out of exam hall. She had already come to pick me up. She asked me about how was it? I said that I attempted it. Then, she told me that she had told about it to mom. My hands froze, I was numb. I had to encounter her someday. I entered home. She had just finished her bath, hair covered with towel and was doing Pooja. She saw me coming, I was completely tensed. I saw her eyes red. She was reciting some stotra. She didn’t say anything, just went inside in kitchen. After completing her Pooja rituals, she made lunch ready to serve on dining table. I was sitting in hall. She called sister and informed to tell me to come for lunch. While having lunch, I was looking at her she was making sure I am having proper food, but not talking to me. I was calm as I knew she might be shocked and sad. So I decided let that phase pass away. Days went by in similar way. I used to show my sister examples of people like Ricky Martin, who are living a great life in spite of being homosexual. I used to show her video of people who have suffered because of rejections, confessions, how families of some people support their homosexual kids. She used to ask me all sorts of questions that used to bug her. I was open to everything she asked. She once asked me whether if I feel like a girl or transgender. I said I inclined towards being masculine with feminine touch. She took time to understand that. I used to give her to read all FAQs provided on support websites. I used to feel that it would have been better if those articles would have been also published in regional languages. I wanted mom also to go through those.

Two weeks passed by in similar way. Mom still not talking to me but taking care of me. She used to ask my sister all questions that came to her mind. She ask what wrong they as humans had done that they got kid like me? Maybe because of having 2 elder sisters this might have happened.  She was in a situation where she couldn’t even consult anyone about this. One of my uncles is psychologist, she insisted my sister to take me to him. One evening, I was preparing for my last paper of my exam and I wanted to break ice. So usually I and mom share one cute moment together when I do her oil massage on head. She was watching some programme on television. I took oil bottle and started my conversation, first she hesitated. I was just controlling myself from breaking down to cry.  I said, Mom, why aren’t you talking to me? I know you are holding something inside you. I care about you, I don’t want your blood pressure to shoot high. I want you to express what you have in your mind. You want to scold me do it? You want to beat me do it? I would be really happy if you kill me also, anyways I am part of you. I owe my life to you. This is true that I have not talked about it to you. But mom, there was a time when I was ashamed of myself and wanted to leave this world. She just said, “I am not angry upon you. I want you to meet Psychiatrist uncle and get guidance upon this. I would like to know his opinion in this matter. Look, Ajay I care for you a lot. More than you imagine. And I am worried about how will you lead your life with all this without acceptance in our society? As of now, focus on your studies and build you position so strong that no one dare to think of judging you. Become a strong personality and inspiration to many by your good deeds. That’s what I am expecting from you“. I met uncle and as excepted he was supportive and conveyed this to mom.

Days passed and one day I took her for “Ek Madhav Baug” play by Humsafer Trust. That’s when she fully accepted me.

PC: All images linked to their original sources.

It was happy yet sad ending

Sozz Siddiqui

Things started with the daily pressure from my parents to tell them if I have a girlfriend or not(May be it was their way to do the detective work to get confirmation if their son is different not) but they never got a clear answer from me ever,  which lead to more question and more detective work.

My brother has always doubted me thinking that I am Bi(bisexual) could be because I had more girlfriends rather than boyfriend.

Part I
One fine day after finishing my job and gym I reached home (You will find my sister in the story too as she was visiting me or may be God has sent her to show her his other CREATION). My mom opened the door with a big smile like she is hiding something or was playing some kind of happiness trick on me. While having dinner my mom started questioning me the same thing but this time there was a twist she asked me if I have a boy friend, she consoled me or I must say took me in her confidence while asking that, where she spread the layer of her understanding telling me that she would be fine if I have a boyfriend too. No wonder we love our mom and when mom loves you , you forget all hide and seek games and with that I told her that yes her son is different, by the time I realized it was too late to understand that she just played it well and I lost the game, I could hear the silence the one which really kills you.

Part II

Her face went from white to red and then pale , the first tear started rolling out from her left or right I don’t know may be simultaneously form both the eyes . While she was crying I was just giggling , it was tough for me to decide what emotions I should show , should I cry as my mom was crying or should I smile as I was finally free but I was just smiling and smiling and smiling I couldn’t stop. It was a fantastic feeling to tell her that her son is not what she thinks but is what she was always afraid of(Don’t think that I am a cruel son or she is a cruel mom, she is the best and most loving mom it’s was just tough for her just like it was tough for me). On the other hand my sister started to command me not to speak THAT WORD yes the same word for which I am writing this, as per her understanding just by saying people become like one, yet again don’t hate her for that as there are certain things which even we don’t understand so she has all the rights to express her feeling.

That was the first and last discussion which happened between me and my mom, my father never got involved in this whole process and still he never tried to talk to me about this(May be that is the way all fathers behave.)

Part III

She still loves me and so my sister and my whole family, you might be thinking that it has one happy ending but I would say it was happy yet sad ending as they accepted me the way I am but they never accepted that their son can be different which of course hurts at time but I am fine. I feel like if they would have abandoned me, it would have been much easier for me to handle that but it really kills me to digest that they accepted me and love me but not my thing.

PS: My brother is the coolest brother as he is the only one who accepted me the way I am, he read the books and tried to understand things for me. We still go out together to a coffee shop to checkout(You know what I mean.) we also play game of identifying who is what 😉

Dreams do come true!

Sandeep Nair

Bangalore

The way I spoke, walked and behaved just seemed natural to me. I’d always been called names ever since primary school. It made me feel depressed and isolated from everyone else. It wasn’t until I was about 12 that I realised what that difference was. Everyone else started passing notes in class and giggling at me, they had their inside jokes, some about me too. I was left out again. Going to school was a torture because going to a place where I know I will have to hide from everyone and smile at people who insult me was getting harder. Being a teenager is hard for most people. But being gay, dark-skinned and having glasses didn’t exactly help matters either!
Not taking part in the sports groups so I could spend more time in the dance club and being the only boy in the school dance group, I suppose looking back now it was pretty obvious.

They say coming out to yourself is the hardest thing but I disagree. The hardest thing was to bury the feelings of shame and difference.

After the struggle in school and college and a failed first relationship, I actually started coming out to people when I was around 20, I told my sister first and then my cousins. I remember inviting my friends out one by one to tell them, and I built it up to be a big revelation in my head. In fact, they either knew of it or weren’t bothered anyway. It’s not like they didn’t acknowledge it, but they just weren’t that surprised!
This initial acceptance built in a lot of confidence in me. But, then things are different in the workplace. I did not come out anyone in the first 3 years of my career. Then, once I was comfortable talking about my then-boyfriend, I started sharing my feelings with my colleagues.

Again, they were not surprised and it did not matter to them. I stopped isolating myself because of the fear of being ridiculed again. To them, I was just another person with feelings, with a life and with a boyfriend.

I had not come out to anyone in my extended family and to be honest, I dint want to. There was this fear of being outed to my parents at the wrong time and then being disowned or forced to  get it “cured”; marriage etc. I had made it very clear to my parents that I will never get married since class 10. But, it took them 15 years to know that I was serious about that decision.
My parents had all of my extended family try to brainwash me, tell me the advantages of marrying at the right age to the right girl, the wishes my parents have for their only son etc. But, I stood my ground, firm and had only one answer – No, I am not interested in marriage. Coming out to my family was not an option at that point of my life.

When the pressure for marriage was mounting and I was suffering another heartbreak after a 7-year long relationship, I was posted to Shenzhen for a project from work. I did not want to go to China, but then the thought of running away from the family pressure seemed more important.

China was where my life changed. I fell in love again. I met the most handsome and loving man  – the man of my dreams. He introduced me to his family as his boyfriend. It was a very happy feeling to be accepted into a family. I knew that I had to come out to my family as well to introduce them to my ‘boyfriend’ and not my “special friend”.

And then on August 11 2014, I wrote an email to my parents coming out to them, told them about my journey so far, my struggles, my dream and finally my fear. My dad was super supportive and said that just like I could not tell him, he could never ask me. I am still his son and he loves me. My mother did not take it well, but after two days, she called me to say that I am never alone and that my parents will always be with me. Then, she asked me not to fall in love and not to do ‘dirty’ things.
I was thrilled, excited and more than ever alive. It was like I got wings and I am flying.

Then, after a few months, I returned to India with my boyfriend, introduced him to my parents and my loved ones in Bangalore. A year after that I married him legally in Portugal and then had a big fat Indian wedding in Bangalore.
A photo of our wedding on Facebook received a lot of wishes, which my extended family saw and my parents started getting calls to verify the authenticity of that news. My parents confirmed that I am married now to my boyfriend.
Now, we are welcomed by all as a married couple at all family functions and treated with respect and love. The ladies in my family said that they are happy that I did not fall for the society pressure and get married to a woman and ruin a lot of lives.

Sandeep & Ruben

The decision to come out is one that no person gets to make for another, and as a gay man it would be incredibly insensitive for me to ever suggest to someone that they should put themselves in harm’s way unless and until they decide they are prepared.

But, to my friends in the LGBT community, who are moving ever closer to the closet’s threshold and feeling you may be nearing that day of stepping fully into the light of complete revelation, I want to encourage you that you have people waiting to walk alongside you; people who believe in you, people who love you, people who will not vanish or fall away or cast judgment or be silent. You are not alone in your walk through this difficult journey.\

To families, friends, advocates and allies, continually and loudly speak your truth, because it matters. As you give voice to what you believe, to your support, you give others permission to as well, and as these voices multiply—change begins to happen. We are seeing it in our daily lives now. This is the result of goodness and compassion.

I am gifted with homosexuality

Rajesh Tiwary

Pune

I always knew I was different than the other boys of my age. I realized that I like men more than I like women when I hit the puberty, but like most of the boys of my age, I was not ready to accept it.

There was this beautiful girl in my class who used to blush looking at me often, I never understood why she behaved like that. All my male friends at that time have started showing interest in girls and kept on discussing about them, I never knew what was the big fuss all about?

Since all my male friends at that time had girlfriends, I convinced myself that I should also have one, so I became close friends with this girl in my class who used to have a special interest in me, I had a girlfriend! She was intelligent, loving, caring, very beautiful and she loved me a lot, but I could never love her back.

She was a good ally to me, but that’s just it.  There was this flamboyant boy in my class, very charming, naughty, flirtatious and excellent in sports, I always felt shy in front of him. Whenever he would come around I will feel like my stomach is going to explode. I felt something for him, but what, I didn’t know.

I happened to go on a school trip with this guy and we shared a room, there we talked and he said he liked me since I was the valedictorian. We connected and instantly become friends. I simply loved being with him.

It was a rainy day after the volley ball match, he and I were waiting for the school bus in the classroom, just us, no one else was there. Something happened to him he held me and kissed me! That was the greatest moment of life. I was flying high and that is when I accepted myself as gay. I knew I loved a man’s body and mind more than those of women.

I told my girlfriend about how I felt and what all I was going through. Luckily, she was understanding and helped me accept my sexuality. From her acceptance, I gained the required strength and I started exploring, met many guys, experienced many emotions and realized that I am gifted with homosexuality.

During my college days, I confided this with my friends and I got acceptance everywhere. I was a lucky enough, as I never faced any criticism and resistance for being myself. My friends, colleagues and my siblings always supported me.

Through one of these dating sites I met my better half, it was love at first sight. We both grew over the course of time, became confident individuals and opened about our sexuality to our parents. Obviously, like every Indian parent, they were shocked and unhappy about it. But they are trying to understand and adjust with our life style.

But I must tell you, be it my siblings, parents or friends, their love has not reduced after knowing about my sexuality, rather it has grown.  The acceptance will come slowly with time, but the relief we feel after coming out of closet is divine.

Everyone deserves to be able to live with whomever they love and this is the basic human right. I am happy that I am towards the path of happiness and I wish all the young boys and girls also receive the love and appreciation that I have received after coming out of the closet.

I gradually accepted myself

“Chaaka hai Kya.”?

“Third Gender hai Tu to”

“Muh Meh LeLe”

“Tere  Boobs Hai.”

These words assassinated athwart me deep into my heart . That group in washroom from who I was always afraid because they were somehow responsible for my abasement.  My chest become a reason for the their fun and jokes. Those jokes have left contravening remarks.

Hello it’s Abhinav here, I belong from a small town where people have narrow mind thinking. I don’t know how to express my views on my sexuality in words, but now it’s high time I don’t want to hide my identity anymore just want to express my views on the sexuality to whole world. The urgency for coming out are those Sleepless Nights,Horrifying threats ,Painful lesions which left his marks.

At age of 13 to 16 which is the most crucial time in a life of a teenagers. At at this age other kids are engaged in playing games , studying ,and creating memories,  God kept me confused in exploring my own identity. And when I finally got to know that I am Gay.! (You read that correct ) .Thanks to my classmate who looks so hot that I got attracted towards him and got to know the truth.

After knowing of this uniqueness was not enough that my fear of being alone and seeking acceptance started hitting me hard. All childhood evenings went crying because of the reason that I m the only person who is suffering from it.

I was stuck in middle of nowhere and was losing my mind, but thanks to my Smartphone from which I explored people ,those people were a ray of hope for me.

I gradually accepted myself as who I am.

My sexual desire was getting  higher day by day. With a lot of courage I visited an unknown person for a hook up. It was something new for me. Gradually I got addicted to the pleasure. One day while sitting I realized that at that age my friends were engaged with bats and ball whereas I was getting into bed with strangers.  That day I pledged to myself that I won’t go with anyone and never cheat any girl in my life .

This is a half coming out hope that God gives me courage for the full one that I can even tell to whole word.

Born Gay Proud to be what I m.!

#abvian