I had come out to the world but I hadn’t come out to my family.

Tanzeel Ahmad

Many have experienced this and there will be many who plan on doing so. Just waiting for the right moment or the right amount of courage they wish they will have in future. Not a particularly pleasant experience like your first car or first kiss but people do it to be true to people around them. To be accepted for who they are or that’s at least what the aim is…

This one goes back to the time of my school days. I never really knew how to acknowledge or describe this feeling that feeling that was in me since what seemed to be forever because right from the beginning I was fed strictly heteronormative ideals of the society. Throughout my childhood I grew without having these feelings fit into any category or name. I could not discuss them with anyone and as I grew older I could neither fit myself into these feelings nor the heteronormative society I was a part of.

There used to be a time when I was in love and peace. The peace one has when they are in the comfort of their home. I was happy and I was loved. But it did not fade away with time. It was stripped of from me in a turning point of my life and it felt like I was in a state of mental and emotional coma. I could see, hear and touch the world but there was a disconnect between the feelings. All I could do in this hollow body was see, hear and touch. I could not feel. I could only feel that I was hurt. As time passed it got harder. I had lost myself to the tides of time once again, worse than ever but I learnt a lesson. I got up and set my goals to get my own place, to get a job and be independent.

My struggle for coming out was not that easy. It all started almost 4 years ago when I anchored a show that was organized to facilitate transgender rights. It was a big event with extensive media coverage and I was not at all upset about my photos being published in the newspaper. Till that time I had explored my sexuality and gender and was quite comfortable with it. I had come out to the world but I hadn’t come out to my family. Now that I was featured in the newspaper as a part of the community. I was presented with a last opportunity to tell my family the truth and come out to them or they would get to know it anyway. I was scared and nervous but these fears weighed nothing against the fact that my family would feel betrayed if I hadn’t confessed to them this time. It was not even a situation ‘do or die’ but rather a situation ‘do and die’ especially when you are raised in a conservative Islamic family. My parents actively confronted me. I was heavily scolded, not allowed to step out of the house and even my mobile phone was confiscated. They thought that this was the result of some supernatural superstitious powers

My mother on the advice of a fakir baba compelled me to watch burning diyas in evening for 40 days. The fakir assured my family that I will be ‘back to ‘normal’ and get attracted towards women. I was just 19 at the time. In the beginning my mother used to sit beside me to ensure that I did not get distracted. For almost a week she was regular but then I think she got bored and stop accompanying me… Or if she had something else in the mind? I don’t know. I was left by myself.  Unlike the light of the Diya that illuminated the fading dusk, the light within me struggled to survive.  It was a harsh time. My parents compelled me to do so. After 40 days my parents thought that I was ‘back to normal‘. I was the one who suffered through it and nodded yes to their question of being heteronormative.

Being gay in a conservative Muslim family, Acceptance doesn’t come with ease… Time passed by and this event was virtually forgotten in the sands of time. This continued for almost an year. I was living my life in the closet. Then one fine day as I was scrolling through my FB profile and came across this post related to Delhi pride. I participated and wore a woman’s attire. The next day again my pictures were published by newspaper. Being dressed up like that didn’t mean I was a cross dresser or transgender but it was to break the stereotype that clothing defines our gender and that living in a democratic country we have the right to choice!

My family was outraged seeing my photos in pride events again and forced me to consult a clinical psychiatrist. During my sessions the psychiatrist told me to watch straight porn. I followed up her advice and during the follow up sessions told her how much I enjoyed watching men in those videos. She ignored my words and tried other tricks but nothing happened. After almost six sessions she called up my father and told him that I can’t be ‘cured‘. My father said nothing.

3 months later I graduated. My mother used to keep an eye on me that I didn’t spend too much time with any particular person of the same sex. They thought that I was gay because I had a homosexual friend circle. They planned to keep me away from it all and ‘convert’ me into a heterosexual man so they sent me to Dubai just so that I could get separated from my friend circle. I almost stayed for 6 months over there torn away from my friends, family and from myself. I also had to discontinue my academics too. Then one day I finally decided to take a stand for myself and return back to India. I took refuge in my relative’s home. Meeting again the people from my community and my friends felt like I was now a bird once again set free. As long as I was with them these 6 months of being caged didn’t matter anymore. Having passed this ‘test’ I felt more confident about my sexuality.

Today I am an active member of Lucknow queer committee and whenever I get a platform to convey my feelings, I speak my heart out because it is the time when I get to show the world what I have been through and how I have grown over it rather than listening to all the world had to say about me that needs to be changed. It is the blessed time when I get to open up all those feelings and experiences that have been bottled up for all these years. Sometimes people would accuse me that I did all this to seek attention. To them I say that I did it for myself. I did it because I cannot live a closeted life in fear of being uncovered. I did it for people out there who might have faced or might be facing what I have faced and how I grew up to be immune to that gibberish and set my true priorities. I want to reach out to all of them and tell them that they shouldn’t spend their life thinking they are a shame, not even a slightest bit.

 

After Coming Out to some, people tried to pull me down and criticized my decision. They told me my life would be ruined in the society and all that shit. However I thought that they deserved to know the real me because they had and have that important place in my life. Though I just don’t understand why our orthodox neighbors and relatives are so much concerned about personal things like these and they spread the word like wild fire. Things started getting into a MAELSTROM, all my fears like losing the people closest to me, not independent enough to earn my living were becoming true. Exactly the opposite had happened. Because I could not come out to people before the orthodox society did my orientation was kept above whatever else I had achieved in my life and people failed to understand the real me.

Today when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a person who has been living a life of secrecy. I see the real me,  I see someone who was drowned neck deep in shit but managed to pull himself out with his determination, love and support from friends and family. There are little pieces of shit which get stuck onto me here and there but I do what everyone else does wipe it off without thinking much about it. The best thing one can be is being true to themselves. Till you don’t do that forget changing anything else majority. * CHANGE STARTS FROM WITHIN* self-acceptance is very important because if you hide your real you it will develop into something very dark. Something which can later whip itself out and destroy you from within. Cutting yourself with blade or indulging in substance abuse are not the only form of self-harm. JUST BE STRONG!! BE TRUE TO YOURSELF!! Till you don’t do that forget changing the whole world!

Everyone is special in his own way. Some of you embraced your true self being and are vocal about it to world. I still remember my coming out in my college, a friend asked me, you never told you are from third gender? WELL this is not to offend anyone but the awareness on LGBTQ+ people is so less in INDIA that anyone might get confused with the LGBTQ+ community. Just don’t lose your temper it’s not their fault take deep breath and do collect more information for them for the next time.

For them who think IT’S JUST A PHASE? well it is human psychology that whenever you breaks some bad news to a person the initial reaction will be “denial” well just if some of you don’t know WHO( world health org) has removed the homosexuality as an illness almost 30 years ago.

One of the most asked Question, “How will you face the society” for them I would say THANKS FOR CONCERN!! I know what I have faced so far, I know how I was ridiculed and mocked in school for being effeminate. It doesn’t matter to anyone anymore

 

I would also like to add about my reconciliation of my faith with my religion too? I am very clear on my religion…

I believe in Allah and I also believe that only Allah has a right to judge me.

Homosexuality is sin in Islam but there are other things too. People feel that being GAY is being an atheist, they might not follow their practices and gain accomplishment in their duties.… But it’s not like that what I believe because of this homophobic attitude like this that because suffering to innocent gay people. It is anti-Islamic but it will also lead to such injustice to those people who wish to pray and perform their daily rituals give charity and feed poor but cannot physically bring themselves to be with opposite sex. No doubt religion is a big part of my life.

If I see now, well I do talk to my family… I continued to actively participate in all queer events be it queer prides, queer flash mobs or queer film fests. All of these events were covered by the media and my photos were prominently featured in dailies and on various websites. My family still hasn’t warmed up to the fact that I am gay and continues to remain distant about my sexuality. But I am okay with that- I want to give them some more time to come to terms with my sexual orientation. There is hush hush around my sexuality. Luckily my siblings are very supportive. They have met with my friends and are quite comfortable with them my parents not talking about it which is understandable. I want to give them some more time.  And I am sure that there will come a day when they will accept me for who I am. Time heals everything and I am a great believer of that. “And I am sure that there will be a day when they will say – We still love you for who you ARE

 

Is it My body?

IS IT MY BODY?

It is question to God and to me as well. Is it really my body? Like others have. Why the hell my body is not matching with my mind , my soul? Why I am different from others? There are thousand of question but there is no suitable answer for that.

I am transsexual (girl trapped in male’s body). Though my physical appearance is just like girls or there are just few differences (body parts). Life of gays, lesbians, transgender and transsexuals are full of struggle and like serials it has a high voltage drama. So many questions are there in my mind. And I have to answer them wrongly. I am living 2 lives one as real me (transsexual) and second as fake(straight) . I feel extremely bad for that. I also want to live my life as real without disturbing others. There is massive societal pressure; many people tend to fear us or make fun of us. I am seeking counselling to manage horror thoughts regarding my future and my family.

CHIlDHOOD

As it quite common with kids who have Gender Dysphoria. I also came to know that there’s something which is not right. When I was 5 year old I started feeling like i’m different. I wore sarees by dupattas etc. I use to live n dress up like girls. I love to dress up like girls . Everyone thought that i’m a child and it will be fine and ignored. I have attractions towards boys but i like to play with girls. I use to play ghar ghar, hide and seek which usually girls play where as I hate playing football or cricket. When other children made fun of me, then I felt that there’s something wrong.

 

At the age of 7 I thought that I am gay. I came to know about sex etc at the age of 6 because my cousin who is now 21 seduced me while playing. At the age of 10 I fell in love with a boy. In excitement, I told that to my mom. She laughed and dint go against me. She supported me. But that boy was straight and he doesn’t had any attractions so I was hurt. But when I was 15 I again fell in love with another guy. This time , when I happily told her, she got worried and tensed. She took me to a psychiatrist. He said that its not good and he said that I am an abnormal child and bla bla…😑😕 he thought that I am mad. He started doing counselings and all such stuffs. I felt very uneasy and uncomfortable..I thought that I am all alone in this world. I use to cry at nights. Hiding from everyone.

My acting skills are very good. I decided to took an advantage from it. I have done a drama that I am fine and normal now and proved that I don’t fall in love with other boys anymore. I make the things fake like I watched modelling of boys. I learn how to walk like them. I learn many things but I really felt bad while doing this all. Practicing such learning was also very difficult (i am not practicing it now as now my classmates have sympathetic nature, sympathy for my health issues) But i have no other options. I don’t want to get those electric shocks which I have seen many people bearing.

Mummy was now relieved. After doing a lot of research, finding symptoms and other popular persons like Nikkiey Chawla, Gazal etc I came to know that my feelings match with them and we are transsexuals.

I was so much depressed that now my nerves are weak (nerves of brain) . Now whenever I feel depressed I fall unconscious. But again I have to go for neurologists and psychotherapist for counselling. I never told them about the real me(because of previous incident) .. I gave them fake and lame reasons.

I think that my life is bit tough..i don’t want to leave my parents because they have sacrificed a lot for me. My father always stood in tensions. He has hardly seen any happiness. My parents have all the expectations from me as my younger brother is not good in studies and I am. I have very good relations with my teachers. They always praise me. Though I belong to rich family. My every dream is fulfilled..I feel so lucky and unlucky at the same time.. Plz sugst me wht to dO ? Who will answer my questions? Will my parent be proud of me or hate me? What will be our future. Now my brothers know about the real me as once no one was at home except me and him. I was crying in front of my shivji(im devotee of him, crying infront of his idol) and he came there. He has positive attitude to people like us so I, crying, confessed everything. And he happily, emotionally supported me but sometimes he feels ashamed of me. He doesn’t want me to come in front of his classmates as they make fun of me. I have to live with these issues, with their comments but he has…. Well i know these questions are unanswerable . But i have hope. I want to payback every happiness to my parents so to be free.

My mom expressed her desire to see a Pride walk

Rohit Bairagi

To Parents:

Hyderabad, 2013

I remember it was a warm summer morning. I had a big fight with my then partner and I thought that was the end of the relationship. My best friend was not available over the phone and I wanted to burst out. Being an introvert I really did not have many with whom I can talk freely. I was in pain and suffocating and thus called my mom and told her everything that I wanted to tell her for years. I told her that thing for which I was preparing her for so many years. I said “I am gay and the person, whom I stay with, is just not a good friend of mine but he is my boyfriend for 4 years now. We are in a live in relationship”.

I belong to a suburban lower middle class Bengali joint family with quite conservative thinking. My mom never knew that something like homosexuality even existed. I probably understood about my sexuality when I was in 89th standard. When I was around 17, I started educating mom about the topic of homosexuality and alternate sexuality. I used to make her read articles, watch talk shows and take her to movies and theatres which depict homosexuality (In Bengali, there were quite a few films and tele-films which touched the topic of homosexuality without making mockery of gay characters). So by the time I started working she knew about homosexuality and also that I have few friends of mine who are lesbian/gay. The same was conveyed to dad through her.

Coming back to the day, I was extremely scared as I had no idea how my parents would react. But thankfully she consoled me and assured that whatever happened she would always be there beside me. I am her son and I will always be a part of her. She cooled me down and asked me to trust time, it will fix everything. After some time dad called and asked me to listen to Rabindra Sangeet or watch a nice movie and that shall cool me down. Now, that was so unexpected. I kind of expected that my mom would understand but I was absolutely sure that if dad gets to know this he would be super irate which he was not.

Few months later my mom’s health deteriorated and her BP(blood pressure) shot up and I got to learn that she started thinking that I turned gay only after I moved to Hyderabad and started staying with my then partner. He turned me gay. Again, I had to explain her that I was born this way. I reminded her of instances in school and as a kid when I was different from other boys. I educated her about few of my school friends who knew about me. Am not sure if mom spoke to them personally thereafter but she is fine since then. A couple of years back my mom expressed her desire to see a PRIDE walk. She saw pictures and videos but she wanted to witness one. Somehow our timings are not matching. Moreover she stays in Kolkata and I am in Gurgaon. Mom has become a close friend since coming out. We possibly discuss everything under the sun without any inhibition. I have seen my bestie also talking to her more freely.

Image representational

I am partially out to my family. That means I am out only to my parents and not to my relatives. I am 30 now and since I stay away from my hometown my relatives keep asking my parents about my marriage and my parents keep on giving vague excuses to them. Somehow my mom does not want me to tell them about my sexuality because of their conservative nature and lack of understanding. My mom faced the taunts of the family for being the only working woman in our family. So she does not want me to go through a similar trauma. I am still struggling to find a way to deal with this, without hurting my parents as they have always stood by my side.

At Work:

Gurgaon, 2014
I came out to my ex manager on my Birthday. I was little emotional at work after reading my mom’s birthday message wherein she encouraged me to be happy. She was concerned because I recently broke up with my partner and perhaps after 6 years I would be alone on my birthday. My boss noticed that and when asked I told her the reason why. She hugged me tight and told she just wanted me to be happy. “I am super proud that you are in my team. You be yourself and love yourself, I am always there for you” she told.

And that was the starting. I started coming out at work and made so many good friends after that. Some of them are my selfie partners. My boss Rajshree Nair later on encouraged me to go ahead with the PRIDE India chapter at American Express. There were so many times I lost hope coz things are so slow but she kept on motivating me along with my few other peers. One thing I realized in life is that whoever I came out to, they became better friends. The bonding became so strong. So I never repent coming out to anyone. It gives me confidence. It gives me joy and brings a smile on my face….

 

sharmaji ka ladka gay hai!

Uday Sharma

From: Delhi/Shimla

Currently: Bangalore

I am 29, born and brought up in a somewhat conservative upper-middle class family in Delhi where I spent the first 23 years of my life. All my immediate cousins are girls including a feisty younger sister. And to say they helped me in coming out would be huge understatement.

While growing up I hated sports (except badminton), excelled in academics,  enjoyed painting or anything creative, was a recluse and loved to debate!  I was one of those titular “sharmaji ka ladka” the ones FB memes so conveniently mock at! (and very deservedly, such fistulas these sharma kids can be).

It was 2003 when the whole sexual identity crisis happened, how will I ever make love to a girl, falling in and out of love with that straight school best friend, and then that college best friend.  Enough! I said, met a guy for the first time in 2009, and the first gay dude I meet ends up being my partner for next 2 years. I was all of 23, young and naive.  The little women in my life (read siblings) were the founding rock of my support! They knew somehow and one fine day the eldest asked me – if I wanted to tell her something! I grabbed that opportunity and told her..Didi..I think I am gay. The conversation started at midnight and went till 5 am next morning. She heard me out. Every bit of it. It was a relief to let someone know that I am gay, and not be judged upon that.

Next was my mother’s turn! My mom was brought up in a very conservative household in Shimla, she could not even finish her graduation and took life as it comes. We Himachalis are from primarily Hindi speaking belt, life is simple and grounded. Calm and quiet. So, I was quiet anxious about how my dad and mom would react if I tell them am gay!  I decided to take my Mom into confidence first ( also as suggested by my strong supportive cousins). One thing I knew that my mother was always sensitized towards this marginalized section and did not bear any sort of prejudices.  That  was my cue to kick off the Talk! I also learnt one thing, how much we underestimate our mothers!

So one fine day, I ask her to sit down and start off by saying that “mummy, mujhe kuch batana thaa”

My mom sensed something is wrong, she sat quietly with her mouth wide open and almost shivering. Maybe somewhere she had an idea what was coming her way. I explained it to her in the most easiest analogy– left handed and right handed ( my mom by the way is left handed)-I am left handed in my sexual orientation i.e. gay  but it is normal, nothing is wrong, just that I will settle down with a boy..the same one who comes and meets me every weekend , here I was trying to tell her about my then partner whom I was seeing. She listened to all that I had to say for like next 3 hours,  I was shivering too!

Ofcourse…. she cried, asked me if it could be changed, or possibly a phase, visit a psychologist. But not once, not even once she disapproved or felt anguished or displayed even a sign of disgust. I guess she cried her heart out that day itself and made a conscious decision to not let me feel small or bad about the fact am gay…not even once, it’s been 7 years since I told her, my mother –not  even a graduate, hardly educated but her unconditional acceptance and love has only made me realise this fact that ignorance and education are mutually exclusive to each other. How grossly we underestimate our mothers..I realized that day.

Things were not that easy with my father when I decided to let him know a year later as I had started earning and was financially independent. There was a showdown with him and it compensated for the drama I was subconsciously craving for. Even with my Dad one crucial thing I realized, his opposition was not to the fact that I am gay, but to the fact I want to beat my drum about it! In my haste to “come out” and make them accept me for who I am I forgot how equally difficult it is for them as well. This is one common mistake we do while coming out and that is forcing our sexuality down our parent’s throat. It has to be done step by step. I was in a hurry to make him comfortable for who I was without understanding where his doubts were stemming from.  I was the Head Boy of my school, I aced my exams, has been an obedient son, never raised my voice, was home by 9 pm, hardly got into any shenanigans, the one who toed the line. Always.  These were my hopeless arguments with my father  that day on how my sexuality should not be of any concern or worry to him…at all! I am responsible and so he should be! In introspect it all sounds so silly now. My father was ready to accept my homosexuality if I was ready to accept his homophobia. But some start was necessary.

So rules were laid-

1) Don’t bring guys home,

2) No need to tell everyone that you are gay not until your sister is settled, 

3) if you want to meet your partner you are free to meet him but not in home, 

and he asked me for for 5 years to become adequately comfortable or reconcile with the fact that I am gay…”so when you turn 28/29 you may live with whomever you want to.”  It was a fair deal. My father never interfered with my personal after that conversation. We both held to our end of the bargain. I was 23 then.

On 31st Dec 2015 I was in Delhi…and planning to attend a friend’s house party.., I told my Dad that there’s a get-together  on 31st night  and I will be late….He very hesitantly asked if it is at any of my engineering buddies place and I very calmly told him that no papa, it is at a gay friend’s place. I have many great gay friends in Delhi as well as Bangalore, he kept quiet and asked again…”who are these friends??, are they from good backgrounds ( read academic) , hope no trouble?…and will you come back home or sleepover??….sleeping over their place will be uncomfortable no..ghar hi aajaio…or let us know ,we won’t wait..”  I almost chuckled .. That’s all…My dad had finally come in terms with my sexuality! My mom instantly intervened and said “we just want you to be safe and not get into any trouble. That’s why papa is asking these things, if you are not coming, just let us know”…that night I did not come home, my dad called me thrice to confirm…I still laugh about it..That moment I realized if I were straight and out with a girl…they still would have asked me the same questions.

I am Uday Sharma, 29, completely out to my family, selectively out to my friends and work peers. I believe coming out should not just be liberating for you but also to your parents and friends and family. There’s no hurry to come out, take your time and space. It should be your time and your moment. Sometimes the people we expect the least from, surprise us the most!