Tanishq Tokas

Hi, this is Tanishq Tokas
I think my story is different because I never came out the right way in front of my family. My whole family was aware of me since my childhood that my actions are somewhat different, like wearing saris, makeup etc., etc. Even while ignorant, I did not knew about my sexuality in childhood I only knew that I like female characters but in the childhood I was never attracted to anyone for sex. The new lesson was added in my life when one of my cousins got physical with me and from then I know the meaning of it. As I grew up, I came to know that I was only attracted to boys in school and this continued in my college and I define myself and put me into gay category. There were so many fluctuations in my life since childhood from the age of 7, I struggled too much to face the audience whether my classmates or relatives because when I usually talked to others they make fun of my voice and expressions whether I was in college in graduation, post-graduation or in school. Even I also attempted suicide once but I managed to save myself as I want to complete my dream , I want to chase my dreams as a educationist and a successful filmmaker. So I went to a psychologist because of the behavior of my mates as well as family members as when I was suffering from the teasing in my education life, on the other hand in home too I suffered from the same from my siblings even today also. But again now too I am managing myself.
I came out in front of my siblings but all rejected me and dismissed me like I am not the part of this world. But I decided to come out in front of everyone in Delhi. I know it was too much difficult for me as at that time my family doesn’t know me except my siblings as I know if I out now i.e. in 2016 than they can boycott me easily while at that time I was pursuing my film production course as well as masters. But I couldn’t live with the dual faces. So I decided to come out through a documentary film made on me i.e. “Tanishq: The Untold Story”.

It was most appreciated movie in Delhi International Theatre and Film Festival 2016, was emotional and fully based on my reality. On that day I came out in front of more than 2000 audiences and got relief from the dual life concept of my life. From the movie “Tanishq” I realized that if I have so much of problems in life because of my sexuality then there are so many of my community people that are also suffering from the same problem or if not they should have some great motivational message to the LGBTQ Society. Then I decided with my close friend Raghuveer Sandhu to open a show name “Miss Woomaniya” LGBTQIA Interview Series which is totally based on the stories or the life of people and today also more than one lac people are appreciating this show from India and some from world.

Today this show covered 6 episodes including Homosexuality, Asexuality, The Exploration of Trans, Aspects of Gay marriage, Come out as Gay and Queer Charcha. In the next coming episode 7 we are focusing on the Effeminate and the Sissy one. Really it’s all possible because of the end of my dual life.
If I am talking about my today situations all are going well my life, my movie work and all Woomaniya work too. In fact in December Miss Woomaniya is the official partner of DIQTFF 2017 and I and my team are coming with a positive documentary movie name “Inaayat”. But on the other hand my sexuality is now a problem in my family today also because of their conservative thinking’s and all but today I am managing myself and continuing my work with and for my community because I and my god knows that I am not wrong just believe and move in your life.

(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.

In just one single day

Here I present you my worst experience being gay in my college. I did my hotel management from a college in Wayanad district of Kerala. I was one the best student of my class, teachers liked me a lot since I was also a classical dancer of Odissi. Everyone gave me respect. But an incident which took place, spoiled everything in just one single day.

I was in relationship with a guy whom I had met 4 years back, when I was too young for relationship. But I was in love with him, and he was a good person. But one day I came to know that he was the biggest fraud I had ever met. After that breakup I came across a guy whom I had accidentally met and later became good friends with. One day he wanted me to accompany him to Trivandrum and I went along. In the night we took a room and stayed there he kissed me and did some softcore. After few seconds he said he got to reply some messages and he took his mobile and clicked my pictures.

Few days later he asked me for 4000 rupees, since I was a student and I didn’t have. I said I don’t have, then his way of talking changed and started blackmailing with my photos. I was terrified and I paid him 4000 rupees but few days later he asked me for 8000. I really didn’t had and when I refused he said he will publish my photos and since he was working in a telecom company he easily traced out my address and other details. And started threatening me again and again. And when I discussed this with my friend he said “You are unnecessarily taking tension” and asked me to be bold and tell him to go & do whatever he wants. I did the same and then next day changed my life.

I was alone in my hostel room, sleeping it was early morning 5 am and someone started knocking my door. I was sleepy so didn’t open the door, I asked them what they want in the early morning and they replied me to check my Facebook. I found there was nothing special, I saw there was a new friend request from an account which was looking like my own account my name, details and my photo everything was the same. And it was him when I saw it was showing 23 mutual friends and me saw all were my college mate’s senior’s staffs teachers. And his id was uploaded with my nude photos. I felt like killing myself, suddenly more people started knocking my door and I was totally lost. I went and opened the door and all the class mates were there to tease me insult me. I was crying but it didn’t bother anyone, I didn’t talked to them.
Just ran to the stair case and said I am going to end my life. I said goodbye & was standing near the handrail. Was afraid to die but didn’t had another option too. Suddenly my friend who advised me to be bold earlier came to me n said “what are you doing?” my eyes were filled with tears & said I want to die. He said “Why you say you are gay & can’t survive?” He came towards handrail, pulled my hair & slapped me, hugged me and said “kill him rather than killing yourself.”

The moment when I came back to my room, for my class mates I was like an untouchable person; no one talked to me no one sat with me.  No one talked to me. For several days I didn’t have a seat in my college bus. Always being insulted. I got extra duties. No one clapped for my dance programs. Said bad words about me. I faced a lot of insult from my teachers too. Earlier I used to write attendance register and other works but I was stopped from doing all those things since I was gay. Even if I sat somewhere in cafeteria the other group of student will get up & leave. One day I felt like crying and went to the washroom and threw my foods away. All of this was happening because I was gay. Gay gay gay they gave me several names, teased me, harassed me.
Several times I really felt that it was better to commit suicide.

Slowly 6 friends among them understood me and came to me as a good friends. We had our own good times. Slowly I began to understand that I haven’t done any crime to deserve this. I was harassed even by one of my chief, who taught us food production. One day when the class had to submit our log book and we all submitted in which only my log book was not corrected or signed, then I went to him for getting my log book signed. He was sitting with few other teachers and said “Hey, I came to know that you will bend your ass in front of anyone who waves.” I was really shocked and terrified because a person who was a teacher of mine insulted me. Suddenly I replied “Sir if you want me to bend for you don’t need to wave your hands, just give me a miss call” Listening to this he felt embarrassed & insulted. I added “Sir, you are not paying my fees, nor educating me or taking care of my expense or giving me shelter and food so it shouldn’t matter to you whether I bend my ass or not”. I said “You just take care of your child who is just 5 years old”. He was mum.

Listening to this several well-wishers form my college encouraged me that I have guts to speak. They encouraged me to reply back to people who are nasty & hurtful, I listened to them and did just that.

Once we had an extempore speech competition in our quality development class and before like I mentioned I had few best friends and among them, one was a girl. She took the lot and her topic was “Should gay marriage to be legalized or not?” And she asked me to help her to prepare for the speech and I helped her, she asked me my experience and all… And when the debate started it was like she said everything in an opposing way. I felt so hurt & insulted. My madam asked me to counter her arguments, I said my part and made her mouth shut and on that day our friendship ended.

After finishing the speech whole class supported her and I said you are you all clapping? I said “You fools before clapping and encouraging others, you all don’t know that there were 11 boys from my class who asked me for sex date and had sex with me. I will never disclose their names because I have promised them, I will disclose their names one day when I leave this college.”

The whole class started looking at each other, all started to doubt their friends, roommates etc. I lied that I had sex with 11 people in fact I never had sex with anyone in my college but my gutsy dialogue made them confused. And because of that doubt popped among friends several classmates of mine fought with each other doubting each other. But only I know that what I told was just a lie, to divert everyone’s mind.

Final exam came whole class became enemies with each other. I was happy to see that because they spoiled my 3 years and my one single lie spoiled their friendship which they build in 3 years. Everyone dispersed from college like how they were in the first days of the colleges without speaking much with each other. I was happy to see that no one gained anything in return of my tears. Finally those 11 names became an unknown secret to everyone. Till now they are waiting for that. College over classes over and here I finish my long story.

A gay man decided to make my safety, his priority.

‘So Lesbian, why don’t you say yes?’

‘Maybe the Lesbian is not interested!’

‘Oh this Lesbian only likes girls….’

Image representational

It had been a year of bullying and harassment at the workplace and the jibes were only increasing with every passing day. There were days when I would just smile and ignore the conversation. Sometimes, I would laugh at the hilariousness of the situation. And on others, I would just seethe with anger.

It so happened that I joined an organization and became part of a large team led by millennials. The culture was fun and the team’s umbilical cords were thicker than ever. And then I met this colleague of mine, who happened to hail from the same state as me. All hell broke loose when he expressed his interest openly and I declined the offer.  So over the next half year, the Team’s Leader, a CXO level profile, started taking jibes at my being single. He felt that we would make a great pair, this colleague of mine and me & as the team’s eldest leader, he was duty bound to ensure that we get together.

As the situation started to turn messy, I requested for a HR intervention and the relevant people got this message loud and clear. But my troubles were far from gone; this colleague of mine started invoking sympathy in team connects and offline conversations. Somehow I was always the object of attention in all chai parties. And why not….I was the one who had said no and he was heartbroken!!

Verbal Bullying

At some point in time, he addressed me as a lesbian in a team meeting and the ‘joke’ lingered on. Thereafter my name was conveniently forgotten and I was only addressed with the L word by all the men who were common friends with both of us. So here I was, a young 29 year heterosexual woman, trying to make an honest living out of my day job but being tagged as a lesbian because I had rejected someone’s advances……….and then one day this person did the unthinkable.

On a bright Monday morning, we were all told that he would be leaving the organization for greener pastures. As we all congratulated him one by one, he expressed his interest to discuss the offer letter with me, in private. We walked into a conference room and I reviewed the terms and conditions earnestly. I was sharing some pointers with him when all of a sudden, he offered me a print out of his CTC sheet and said, “No man who will earn this much, will even take a second look at you. Would you like to reconsider saying yes to me?”

I looked outside from the glass door. My entire team was seated bang opposite to the conference room …and in that moment, I made my decision. I walked out with the CTC letter in my hand, clapped loudly for convening people to my desk and literally forced them to get off from their telecom conferences. My colleagues thought that I was falling ill but my blood shot eyes gave my intentions away. Brandishing the offer letter in the air, I asked my supervisor who was a very senior woman leader in the organization, “Will you give away your daughter’s hand in marriage to a man who calls her a Lesbian on one day and pushes his CTC letter on her face, the second day?”

Pin drop silence ensued because different teams co- occupying the space began to move in from their workstations. The conversation seemed very charged up and I was being loud enough for people to understand that I would not be cowered any more. My supervisor got the message and firmly asked my colleague to back off. After a few minutes, the team went back to their work and I walked back to my desk too.

A few weeks later, this colleague of mine, left the organization, after serving the notice period. And the team started getting back into the habit of addressing me with my name. But the incident left a deep mark on me. Proactively I switched gears and moved from a compliance role to being a D&I professional; as I could not stand being part of the same team anymore.

Post my transition into the new team, within the same organization, I had the opportunity to share my experience with another team member who was anchoring the LGBT+ charter for us.  We had a very detailed conversation and his first response is still etched in my memory, “So why did you allow it to happen? Why did you never object?” And from there on, this member of the LGBT+ community who was out in the organization, became my biggest pillar of support. He made it a point to counsel some of old team members and reassured me that I would be very safe in the new team. Had it not been for him, I would have always lived with fear that the ghost of that incident would continue to torment me, if those common friends decided to revisit the agenda, some day.

As I reach the end of sharing my story of becoming a LGBT+ Ally, I can’t help but reflect on how important this conversation is at the workplace and in the societies that we live in. As allies, it is our responsibility and duty to stand up for diverse minorities who may not be able to voice their concerns. It is only by mitigating exclusion, can we create a world that is meaningfully inclusive for everyone.

It has been many moons since that incident and in all my roles, I have ensured that the LGBT+ conversations are elevated in the D&I charter. To the community members who are closeted and the ones who are not, to the allies who are ridiculed for supporting the charter and bullied by stigma of association, to Workplaces that uphold the values of Inclusion, I quote Jean de La Fontaine, “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”

 

Picture credits: Source linked to the images

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

We shall fight this out together

Priyank Asha Sukanand

Bangalore

All through school I was attracted to a few boys in my class as I was convinced that it was pretty much the right thing to feel and I ridiculed other boys who hit on girls and actresses and so on. So at the age of thirteen, my best friend, made me understand what being GAY was. So that’s when I realized it was what a lovely term or label to fall under. Then a few months later I joined a lovely theater group that helped me open my eyes to so many possibilities around me. I walked my first Gay Pride March of 2008 in Bangalore. Though I was masked I still came on camera and my mom found out too.
Well I decided to come out to her and as much as I wanted the typical South Indian drama that everyone else got, that turned out to be a positive failure. She accepted me whole heatedly and also vowed to convince my Dad. My mother is one of those broad-minded humans that is very queer friendly and sometimes a little too much. They say “a way to anyone’s heart is through their tummy” but in my case it’s my mother. Though all the boys I’ve dated my mother has always loved them. Our coffee table conversations are certainly way too detailed and expressive. The other day I had a friend drop by my house on Diwali and now she can’t seem to stop talking about him and how I must definitely date him. So this is the woman who gave birth to me and this is the woman who still loves me for who I am. I’m not really that proud of being gay than the fact I’m even more proud of having a mother like her.
I have taken my middle name as her name only because she’s as important as my father is and yes let’s fight patriarchy.
Dad was very hesitant for over 5 years, we hardly brought up the topic and I continued being a gay rights activist nonetheless. Eventually on the date 11.12.13 when the Supreme Court of India re-criminalized homosexuality my father sent me an SMS that read “I’m sorry to hear about today’s judgment. But you must understand no matter what I’m here with you and we shall fight this out together”. Truly made me the happiest gay boy in India when everyone else was in sadness.
Today I have realized the amount of harassment I have overcome but I also understand that it has only made me stronger. I studied at a reputed 0b7fqabvd5w1vvxdiru5us09yrgc_1475762145490hospitality management institution in Maharashtra where I was ragged every night, physically and sexually harassed for being openly gay. But I stand today with pride and as an example to stand up to what you feel is wrong.
I believe there are so many students who need the help and support that I never got. In 2011 along with 2 other queer people I co-founded the Bangalore chapter of Queer Campus that set out to offer a safer space for Queer youth in Bangalore. We organized annual events such carnivals, picnics and movie visits as well. As time passed I moved out of the group handing it over to the next set of young leaders.  At the moment I’m the founder of Queer Collective India, a social movement that aims at bridging the gap between the society and we queer folk, through the medium of art, theatre, dance, media etc.

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.