Bi & Proud

Sandy, Bangalore

Coming out as ‘bi’ is way different to coming out ‘gay’.

Think about it. One: there is a general opinion that bi people are confused and untrustworthy or that our sexuality is “just a phase”. Two: There’s added pressure to come out to everyone we are romantically involved with. We don’t have to – but then we carry the burden of not being authentic to ourselves or the relationship. Also, biphobic reactions are far too common and almost every bisexual person has horror stories to share about courting a straight or gay person for whom bisexuality was a deal-breaker.

Of course, this entire process can be simplified by coming out before the first date. Still, that is a level of disclosure that is not expected of straight or gay people, whose orientation is assumed by virtue of the gender of their mate. The risk of romantic rejection because of one’s sexual orientation is not a hurdle faced by straight or gay people.

When I came out to Jo, my girlfriend in uni, she dumped me. She said that she couldn’t live in the constant fear that one day I would realize that I was “actually gay”. She said that although she loved me, she’d always doubt my love for her. Years later, my relationship with Andrew didn’t go anywhere either. Worse, he wanted an ‘open relationship’. He said that he could never be serious with me since I was bi. He was scared that I’d leave him the moment my parents asked me to “settle down with a nice girl”.

A harsh truth that I learned when I came out was that for some people, my identity was always going to be defined by my orientation. As “the bi one” in most social circles, people find it easy to attribute whatever characteristics they associated with being bi, no matter how stereotypical, inaccurate, or offensive they are. I have been asked if I was sure I was bi and if I wasn’t “just gay.” I have also been asked if I’ve had trouble being monogamous in my relationships; if I have been sexually satisfied or craved intimacy with someone of a different gender than my current partner. Sometimes, people have the audacity to ask my partner of eight years too, right in front of my face, if me being bi doesn’t bother him.

It would most certainly be a bother to date someone who is bi, if one believed in these stereotypes. However, here’s something we know to be true about stereotypes – that they’re bullshit. They are nothing more than ideas based on stigma and ignorance, and often an inaccurate depiction of the community they claim to represent.

When I first decided to come out, I promised myself to be as authentic as possible. I wasn’t going to let one fear replace another. I am who I am – I am bisexual. My sexuality is not a character defect.

It is not something those who love us get to be bothered by. It is not something they should have to deal with because they’re with us. They should not love us despite our bisexuality, but rather love us, and the identities that come with us, wholly.

My sexuality is just a small part of my identity. But it is valid, it is real, and it is okay.

It’s my life and I should live it

Nalin

Bangalore

So, it all started when a YouTuber named Connor Franta came out in a video. It got me thinking, as to why do I invest so much time and energy in trying to keep my gayness under cover. I mean, it’s me, so sooner or later people are bound to find out. But then again, fear came over me and I remained mum.

I watched a few more coming out videos by some other You Tubers. Some reaction videos of people coming out. There were loving and horrific incidents mentioned in all of them, and because of the fear that hatred is what I’d have to live with, I chose to ignore the love that might have come too.

Around the even semester of my third year, I was in college hostel, and would visit home every weekend because my parents stayed in the city. I remember, the entire week I’d just think of all the people living a happy life, out and proud, and here I was, who didn’t know of a single LGBT human. I remember crying myself to sleep. And then on call, I told my mom that I need to speak to both, her and dad, when I get home this weekend.

Now, I don’t know why, but I decided that the first people I wanted to come out to were my parents, I mean they always said that they were my friends, so technically that made them the friends I have had for the longest time. More so, I think I just didn’t want them finding out from some random source. So that weekend, when I got home, they had some party to attend, and that gave me sometime to think as to how was I going to break the news to them.

When they got back, I sat them both down, and just started talking. I was scared I would be disowned. I had no other place to go if I was thrown out of the house, I didn’t have a plan in place (I know, stupid. But yeah..) and that just made me more and more scared.

I tip toed around the topic, asking them questions to find out if I was a decent enough child, if they’d want to disown me, and then I told them I was gay. I couldn’t get the word ‘gay’ out of my  throat. I remember stuttering, struggling to convince myself to tell them. I was in tears, thinking of the disappointment I had caused them. I was sobbing like a baby.

Now, I always knew that my dad would take it better than my mom,so when I did come out, my mother remained quiet (which in her code is utter disappointment and disagreement), and dad said “oh, okay, I thought it was something much serious”.

I was a virgin boy, who hadn’t even kissed a boy, and then came the questions, how do you know you are gay? Have you slept with a man? Has someone taken advantage of you? How can you know you are gay if you haven’t been with a woman?

And it all startled me. You father asking you what turns you on in a man is maybe the last thing you want to answer, especially when you are 20 going on 21.

But yes, he tried to crack a joke at the end of all of it by saying “I actually thought you got someone pregnant and we’d have to get an abortion!” (typical dad jokes he has)

When I came out, I asked them to maybe go see a psychologist, so that it could help with with the shift in dynamics in their head. The stupid thing I did was let them pick one out. And they managed to find the most homophobic, illiterate, fuck ever. He gave me an online quiz about “how gay are you?”, which had questions such as “what would you choose, a sausage or a donut?”

Post the quiz he tell me, see the quiz says you are bisexual, so don’t go around telling people you are gay.

And you don’t even know if you are gay, you are virgin.

And I questioned him, that if a boy walked in asking him why is he attracted to a girl, no one would question him, or ask him his experiences with a man, to which he promptly responded, “I would” and I snapped, I was like, sweety, even I wouldn’t, so don’t you bullshit me on this one. This was maybe the first time I was speaking up about any of it and it felt so good to put that ‘doctor’ to his place.

After this, I never saw him again, and like a good Indian family, we just never talked of things that make us uncomfortable.

Slowly I came out to friends, became more and more accepting of who I am.

2 years later, I came out to my sister, and her reaction was “huh, okay“. When I asked her if that was all, she said, I don’t know what else to ask.

For all this while I had avoided coming out to her thinking that she might be like mom, and not be the easiest person to deal with it, but she did turn out to be the biggest support I have in the family.

The only time my parents ever spoke of my sexuality, was when I was with my dad, and he was telling me about how depressed mom is, and that me being gay is one of the reasons, maybe a major one, and that he has been trying to tell her that it’s my life and I should live it..

Cut to, October 2016, me being in Bangalore, louder and prouder than I had ever been, Being vocal, sharing my views, and then I shared a meme on Facebook, that practically outed me to the whole world, and I was kind of happy!

What I didn’t realize was that most of my family was on Facebook too, so that just ruffled a lot of feathers in the extended family..

Mom got a call from an aunt asking what was up with me, and there she went spiraling again. I heard her cry, telling me things like I have made her want to end her life, and that’s maybe not the best thing one could hear their parent say..

In the process I came out to an aunt of mine, and though it wasn’t received in the best possible way, it want the worst I had gotten.

Cut to May 2017, I was in Chennai for work for a few months, and a drag show was happening there. I had worked with a few drag queens back in Bangalore so I was asked to take part and perform in drag. I didn’t mind, and that gave me a chance to actually try out drag!

So I did the show, and it was the ‘first drag show of Chennai‘ do a lot of online news platforms covered it..

The articles were flooding across my timeline, and then, somehow, mother found out! (I guess they do find out everything, after all!)

The entire shenanigans started again, I was being told to just leave them alone, to stop trying to take revenge for an upbringing they had provided, to stop trying to tarnish the family name.

Some how in all of this, I was just scared shitless what would happen if dad found out. Needless to say, he did.

He gave me a call, started talking casually, and maybe once other things were out of the picture, he just asked me what was up, and what was I up to.

He very calmly asked me about the show, and told me that it was my life, and I was allowed to live it the way I wanted, but that this hurt my mother quit a lot. So maybe I should try and do everything in a way that she doesn’t find out..

Which was more than reassuring because I never thought that any of my parents would ever be okay with drag..

In the process I did have to come out to another aunt of mine, and when I did tell her, she said “so what? It’s not like you are killing people” and maybe that was the second time I ever cried during a coming out.

All I ever wanted was for my mother to say those things, but well, at least someone did. Later I apologized to her for bombing such a news on her, with no prior warning, and she said “never ever be sorry for who you are”

So now, I back in Bangalore, living with my mother, and we haven’t slit each others throats yet, so that’s my coming out story, so far!

I am not like other boys

Shivaji Bhattacharjee

Bangalore

Being a shy introvert boy it was not easy for me to deal with, or even understand my sexuality when I was a kid. But I always knew there is something different from my other school mates who used to have crushes on girls from the neighboring girls’ school. My mom was a working lady and I was a home boy, I always loved to do household work. Helping my mom arranging the house when she got back late from work, definitely made her happy. She used to hear from our neighbors that she was supposed to get a baby girl but by mistake it became a boy, but she never reacted to such comments.

As I grew older, my parents started to notice that I am not like other boys, I didn’t go out and played cricket or football like other boys, instead stayed at home and played with cousin sisters and their dolls. My sisters used to love painting my nails, and I used to enjoy that, but dad used to get furious on them and me. I was my mom’s wardrobe manager (lol) used to decide what she will wear for office, help her to do saree, help her in shopping sarees; again all this never made my dad happy.

I remember I broke my hand once in class three, while trying to steal my
aunt’s lipstick kept in the upper cabin. It used to sadden them seeing me grow up differently, the same acts that used to make her smile when I was a kid, now angered her. And seeing my parents’ reaction I started to keep things more within me, I was scared to share how I felt. I still remember I had a crush on my cousin brother’s friend as a kid and then only once my closest cousin sister for the first time asked me are you Gay? I didn’t have a reply for her, I myself didn’t know then.

I am also a victim of abuse, forced sex when I was 14, and it lasted for three years till I was 16. It was my cousin brother, as I said before I was a shy and introvert kid, never knew whom to tell, how to tell. Few times my mom and grand mom saw marks on me they asked but I couldn’t open mouth in fear, I didn’t know then what was happening. At times I used to hate him and avoid him, other times I used to feel good and then hate myself for that. I was so confused in all those years, and being a kid of 90s things was not that open, no internet like now and didn’t know what really was going on. After few years I stopped talking to him, started avoiding him though we lived in same house.

Around age of 19 I left home for Bangalore for studies and from then I have always been in this city, and in these many years the connection between me and my family faded. I explored myself here more, became more independent in thoughts, understood my sexuality and was dealt with my first ever miserable relationship and break up. By this time my parents were thinking of my marriage. Up til now we never talked about my sexuality as I never felt that I needed to, as they were very far and we used to meet once or twice in a year, I never felt it was necessary.
By then I was already out to my closest college friends in Bangalore, that cousin sister who asked me long back if am I gay (I replied to her after so many years and she wasn’t surprise) and my few other cousin sisters whom I am close to. But it was not easy to tell things to my parents as I am the only child and I knew they had expectations from me. I was in huge mental pressure and took help from a counselor. When my parents were visiting me in Bangalore, I spoke to them about my sexuality and tried to explain to them about my attraction towards men.

I also explained the problems which we all will have to face, if I go for a forced marriage. They heard and were obviously disappointment, it was clear from their faces. Now they don’t talk about it anymore neither they force me for marriage (they never did even before). They keep reminding me that I’ll have to live alone in future, I guess that bothers them more than my sexuality.

 

shouldn’t the world fear a man who has nothing to lose?

Saiganesh Krishnamoorthy

Amsterdam

I hate the word ‘Lucky’. Especially when someone uses that word to define anything that has happened to me. I believe in destiny of course. But luck? Not a chance!  Despite all the curve-balls that life threw at me, if I’ve managed to sustain so far, it’s because of the faith I have in myself, the people around me and the one above. Do not defile hard work & skill with a word that denotes probability.

It is my journey and the situations that have prompted me to accept who I am and signaled me to be the change I wanted to see.

Childhood days: A phase of apathy

I was a good student (I hope). Math, languages and science fascinated me. Favorite of the teachers and unsurprisingly, good at creative stuff. Sketching, dancing, theater and what not! Anything but sports. I was passionate about dancing (Bharatanatyam) and saw that as a way of meditation even. Kids at school used to make fun of that, although it never bothered me. Somehow I found ways to avoid bullying at school, thanks to my quarrelsome nature. I knew how to bicker well and since I was good at a lot of other things, I used them as a shield against any sort of bullying. Silly, yes, but it worked brilliantly.

My family

Coming to my family, destiny did a number on me. Being the youngest child, I had to witness my parents succumb to illnesses. A mentally challenged brother and sick parents would not be an ideal combination for anyone. However, the love we had for one another seemed to help. And their only pleasure seemed to be hearing good things about me from their kith and kin. That was the little gift I could give them for all that they did despite their shortcomings. And so, I carried on, falling in love with girls (And no, they were not my ‘beards’), focusing on studies and extracurricular activities. I did idolize a few senior guys but assumed that to be similar to fans glorifying their heroes. Growing up in an orthodox neighborhood, it never hit me to even imagine otherwise.

College days: When the world comes crashing down

I lost my brother and father even before I could complete school and became the sole responsibility for looking after my (bed-ridden) mother. Naturally, I had to toughen up and handle it. But I couldn’t do it all alone. Regardless of all the tough act that I was displaying to others, I started aching from within. And I could no more hide the fact that I liked men. It was all new to me. I had an on-off thing with a guy then but it was a confused phase in my life. Growing up in a culture where heterosexual couples are the only things you see, hear and talk about, an alternate reality seemed improbable for me. Moreover, I was the only solace for my mother then. How crushing it’d be for her to deal with something that even I couldn’t understand.

Mom & me 🙂

But she disproved that idea by her sudden demise. My world officially crumbled. My life seemed to have lost its purpose. And simultaneously, a new life began to evolve in the garden city of India, with my paternal aunt (whom I greatly admired) and her family. It was all very confusing, to say the least, to lose everything at 22 and move to a new city, hoping to find peace. Bangalore understood my needs and seemed to wash away my sorrows. My family, consisting of my aunt, uncle and my (cousin) brother started cherishing me as their own and so was I. I also made lovely friends. Friends whom I could call at midnight and ask to meet without asking why. Bangalore understood my quirks and I didn’t feel odd for the first time in my life.

For some time, my relationship also went smooth. What started as a simple Facebook chat with this guy went on to become a lovely 3.5 years of companionship. We had our own idiosyncrasies, but our understanding of one another helped us work it out. But he wasn’t sure of whether he can be in it for a lifetime and soon made it clear that he’d have to marry a girl in the future. I hadn’t come out until then because of all this uncertainty and now it looked like that time may never come. I was sick of living dual lives, of constantly lying to my close ones, of having to portray someone I was not. Although theater is my passion, this drama seemed to be going on for ages now. I needed a breather.

It was then that my family decided to go on a 21-day long trip to Europe. What a way to change my mood from this break-up, I thought. Little did I know that I’d meet my soulmate there!

2014: The time has come

He was a part of the trip. Quiet, attentive, neatly dressed, well-spoken and extremely kind to everyone (even the most annoying aunties). There was this air of sophistication, humility and kindness about him. We were both with our families, closeted and had no idea that the other person was gay. Yet we ended up spending our nights talking about mysteries of the world, of ‘detached attachment’, of ‘Maya’. Little did we know that we were getting sucked into it as well.

He went back to Canada after the trip (where he lived) and we started having email conversations. It started very formal initially (‘Hope you landed safely! ‘Twas great meeting you!’), and soon reached a phase of signing the email with our names together. We even expressed our love for one another by email! ‘For heaven’s sake, this should be the next Nicholas Sparks’ novel’, my friends said. We had the same set of interests, finished one another’s sentences and literally completed each other. I began to finally believe that life will be happy after all since I’ve found the missing piece of the puzzle, the ‘One’. Months later, he decided to come out to his family and he did. My prior relationship, however, made me tread the path of caution. So I decided to come out when I go to study in Canada and after moving in with him. Life would have been so different had that happened. If only!

A week after his coming out, he suffered a fatal rupture of tumor in his lungs and passed away.

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That describes my state! I went blank. Everything went black. All the bold acting I had until then wore off. I cried day and night. I took his death as my liability. That I had lost my family too made me think that anyone I would ever love would face the same destiny. That I was cursed and damned for perpetuity.

I could have taken the extreme step. Pills, plastic bag – I could have come up with innovative ways to end my life in a painless fashion. But, I didn’t. I had promised my (late) mother that I would never succumb to suicidal thoughts and realized that I have to survive this. There’s nothing more to lose anyway. After all, shouldn’t the world fear a man who has nothing to lose?

So I decided to open about myself. Accept that this is who I am and only have those people in my life who’d accept me as such. I called everyone. My brother, close friends, colleagues. And I told them finally what I have been meaning to tell them for years – that I’m gay. People went through a wave of shock but they loved me no less than before. It also did take some time. It is not one of those coming out stories that can lead to a discussion. They could see that I was hurting. That it was true love for another soul, regardless of defined societal constructs. And they conceded that love is love after all.

Right now I’m in one the world’s most liberal cities, Amsterdam. In a company that lets me create inclusive programs for everyone. What a roller coaster ride has it been! Life will never be a bed of roses. But it’s not going to be all thorns either. A happy ending just needs a lot of hard work, both mentally and emotionally.

 

 

Image credits:

Heart band aid

Queer Canada Flag

Tears of exasperation by an effeminate are crushed

There’s someone who does not fear to own up to her trans identity. She is a young and beautiful 20-year-old renowned poet, and a Radio Jockey from Bangalore, Shilok Mukkati.

Her mantra:

“Explore your body and mind, see yourself intensely. It should be that intense that you should find your spirit burning like a sun. As you see yourself, now you are ready to fly away. Fly.”  -Shilok

This is a her first poem which beautifully capturing the duality of her existence , the challenges from the society & family and he hope for tomorrow.

Kinnaras of the Dark World

Look at us, born as sluts,
BEARING heats of the embargo,
a girl [is] rushed by The tears of
compassion,
The tears of exasperation by an effeminate are crushed.

My mother loves me, but never understands me.
As for my Father, I am not the one he wanted.
We are ghastly Speech For the siblings,
Forget the relatives, it’s a Far Speech at all.

My CHILDHOOD was drenched by the rain of molestation,
Hush …! They zipped My Mouth, never opened My abduction,
Here comes the Lover in My sixteens,
But for him it’s only the lust, not love.

Never told the Reality of molestations, exploitations,
Even If I tell, Who’s there to listen to My oppression?
I was chased by the nightmares of shame and abandon,
My Bed is wet with the tears and Blood.

NAMES many do not have even the Gods,
But We Labelled as such it blows are our NAMES,
like The Bloody leeches sucked do have labels,
The labels are as swallowed and curl We do Pythons.

Noose, Bottles of poisons, Pond and Well,
as days rolled as Welcomes Well,
But the Fire is burning in the Heart of femininity,
there is no fault Why should We WHEN die?

Bones in the roasting prison of manly,
womanly I’m burning the Soul,
In the world of Darkness,
Shining With the crown of tears,
I’m the lightening power who rules the hurdles DAWN & dusk.

Neither the masculine sea of dropping seeds,
NOR giving the feminine nature breathes,
I’m Them between the space and peace,
I’m the Guardian Angel of the genderless GENDER hum …

Kinnars as the pages of the Vedas called us,
We are the TWO spirited people the Seas Over,
The Revolution has Come of Kali rushing by,
hear the roaring awaited battle of Equality.

You so called nature’s dear Homo sapiens,
the erroneous JUSTIFICATION To Flood of You,
the stereotypes of hierarchy To Blood & patriarchy,
Real Humanity is … We have Come To teach what.

For the realisation and Recognition & dignity of our existence,
We are Here, The Kinnaras of the dark world

– SHILOK MUKKATI