It was 2012 when I had my first brush with the reality that someone can be “Gay”.
It was an ordinary weekend and my dear friend Ram finally agreed to meet over lunch. He can be quite difficult to get hold off over phone or otherwise so this meeting was a rare gift. During the course of conversation Ram told me about his sexual orientation.
And here was my reaction, on the inside –
2) But I kind of knew
3) Is he going to be fine? I hope he doesn’t get a lot of shit from people for this
4) Heck…what does this mean?
On the outside –
1) That is so courageous of you!
2) Good for you!
When I came back home that day and thought over it more, I was really awed by the amount of courage he had really shown in accepting himself and in coming out. So I dedicated the following post to him – http://ankit-rastogi.blogspot.in/2011/10/charge-of-light-brigade.html
All awesome up to the point, right? Well now starts the real story.
A couple of weeks later, I met Ram again for coffee. I do not know what we talked about but I know what I kept thinking – “what will other people think of me when they see us?”
You see, I wasn’t all that courageous.
Now I had up to this point always considered myself a very open minded person. But this meeting and what went through my mind challenged me to the very core. It disturbed me to the point that I thought about not meeting someone I had called a very dear friend and avoid him. It really wouldn’t have been that difficult given that you really need to make an appointment to meet him. You see my shallow thinking was at the verge of costing me my dear friend.
So I did what anyone would normally do in this situation. I decided I needed to know more about this new thing I’ve been introduced to. I remembered Ram mentioning some dating site, so i went ahead and joined it. And for two days I was bombarded with messages from other gay men. So, I did the next best thing and quit. This experience had me realize two things –
1) It didn’t matter
2) Our friendship was more important to me than my shallow thoughts and insecurities and hence I needed to get over them
Its 2018 and man I am glad I have Ram at my side. He has stood by me in every up and down in my life and I sure hope we continue to do so.
It really doesn’t matter, does it? Who you decide to love? It’s really difficult to find someone who you love and who can love you back, should we really begrudge someone that basic human right?
And really what does change about someone when they come out? Really nothing. What really does change is your assumption about them. They really just remain the same person they were before – just a little more courageous!
I’ll end it again with this blogpost, this time dedicated to all the people out there who have shown the courage to accept
I am Jabez Kelly and I am gaaaaaaaaayyyy!!!! I am an eighteen year old gay dude who has no clue what he is doing in his life. Trust me, not everyone is sane and sorted. My life story is daunting and interesting at the same time. Put on your seat belts and get ready for this mysterious roller coaster hell of a ride.
From my childhood I knew I was different but, I did not know I was gay. I just knew I was different. I liked wearing my mother’s clothes, in fact I am way better than her in draping a saree. Born in a very orthodox Anglican family, doing anything that did not fit the norms was shunned. (ha ha ha, look at me !) I was a miracle baby right from my birth. Let me tell you why. My parents made me when they hit their mid-life crisis. That is a polished way of saying they made me when they were too old to be making babies. My mother had a bleeding when I was 5 months old and the doctors suggested aborting the fetus was the right thing to do and my mother still thought I had a great life ahead (poor mom) And by the eighth month she again had a bleeding and this time the doctors were not leaving my mother unless they cleaned me out. My mother still thought I would have a great future! oh ! My poor mother! And when she said no, the doctors warned that if she gave birth, the baby will either be physically or mentally challenged.
Two months later all they could hear was how fat,femme and dark I was (just kidding). I was a healthy baby weighing 3.89 kgs (details people shouldn’t know). Growing up in Chennai was difficult. I was judged for everything I did. I was the one who was different in everything I did. I played video games when people were out playing cricket. I was the one who ate pasta alfredo when everyone ate biryani. I think I made my point. Me coming out as gay happened only a few years back. I was not sure if I was gay or a woman and started taking hormone injections. Then realized I wasn’t a woman and I was born a proud gay man (circle of life from lion king plays in the background) A very religious Christian gay dude, really hard to find. I came out to my friends. Some of them were really supportive and the others not so much*momma still loves you people!*
People made fun of me for wearing skirts, I call it jealousy. People made harsh comments on my makeup, thanks, I have improved myself.
“I came out to the whole world on facebook”, sounds familiar? Yeah, not a grand coming out per se but was really amused by the reaction of the people. Some of my favorites-“ You are my brother and I will still love you the same, “Jabez, you think I did not know all this time?”
“ Gurrrrl !!! Welcome to the club !
My relatives were really happy that I did too. My mother got to know about this post after a really long time *thanks to those kinda relatives*. My mother being a very staunch Christian could not accept the fact that I was different in a different way. It took her some time to digest it. One day she came up to me and said “I understand if you are a transgender and I completely support you.” I broke to pieces as all those days of making her read about homosexuality, showing her clips about gay men and everything and this is what she had to say to me ?
But I am happy in a way that she understands what I am going through and how difficult it is for me to face this society. She has always stood by me and she’s my rock.
And then college happened.
School days were fun because all of us were weird in our own ways so the judgment was less. College was fun for the first few weeks; getting to know different people and drooling over really hot guys and after a few months things started getting serious. I had to quit college because of the homophobia that existed. “Ah ! Why couldn’t you continue?”, “ Homophobic people are everywhere”, “Your life is ruined!”,” Why couldn’t you act straight?” – These were some of the questions people had for me. The only answer I had for them was, “why should I tolerate?” I fought for myself and my fellow LGBTQ+ mates but I failed. This does not mean I give up.This means homophobia won!
I recently participated in a Tamil TV show calledNijangal hosted by Mrs. Kushboo. We spoke about LGBTQ issues and the host asked if my parents knew about me and if they were supportive and I said my mother is okay with me being gay but my father doesn’t know. My father being technologically dumb took another two weeks for another relative to tell him about the show and he questioned me about how I identified myself to be gay and why I did not want to become straight and how he could help me with therapy. But he realized how futile it was suggesting something like that was. See, told ya, my coming ain’t that amusing!
January 14th 2017, the momentous day my drag persona Gabrielle Jasmine Marquez came into the lime light at the Chennai rainbow film festival. I was apprehensive about how people might take a drag performer in a society where everything is considered taboo. But the performance was a great success. Post film festival I was contacted by people to host their private events and parties and I started making a living out of it. Remember, when life gives you lemons, you make a chocolate tart and leave everyone wondering how on earth you did it.
I was born as a child who could hear perfectly. When I was an infant, I had high fever that damaged the inner ear so I became profound deaf.My parents did not give up hope. They encouraged me to be like any other child, communicating with the world where we live. My mother found a good school in Bombay where they teach deaf children through lip reading and provide speech therapy . I shifted to Mumbai for the same and started living my maternal grandparents. It was very heart wrenching for them to part with me especially at young age. I was just 2 years of age when I moved to Mumbai. My aaji (grandmother ) left her job and took care of me with love. My grandparents pampered me, loved me, disciplined me. They taught me the value of culture, tradition and life. I am so lucky to have such grandparents.
Being deaf was hard for me. I had to face the society everyday but was lucky that I had a lot of friends who could hear and acted like my interpreter. During 80’s and 90’s, when I grew up, there were no english subtitles on TV at all – nowadays, it is there only on English movies. My mother never lost hope, she always would interpret for me in the theatre and I would understand using lip reading. At that time, I never learnt sign language. So we all used to communicate using lip reading yet there were times, I felt left out – I could not understand what was being said. Though I did not blame my family, relatives. It was unfair to expect them to look at my face, all the time for lip reading. That I understand but yet I was angry. I did not like to miss out.
During school and college, my parents always paid for a private tutor and they taught me one to one. Hence I was totally focused on my studies. My father often pushes me to communicate or talk to bus conductor, hawkers, to anyone in public! Most of the time, they did not understand and laughed at me for my funny voice. I was very embarrassed and very angry at my father for not rescuing me. But now I understood why he did, he did so on purpose to boost my ability, confidence to face anyone anywhere. For that I am very grateful to father as well as my mother.
I always knew that I am gay as long as I remember. I thought it was abnormal to stare at men. I wanted to confide to someone but being deaf it was not easy. I came to know about GayBombay meeting online. At first, I was scared to go there to meet strangers. There is always a communication barrier. I really could not ask any of my hearing straight friends to join me.. no way! One day, I gathered some courage and went to meeting in Bandra, Bombay where I met Ashok Ravi, Dr. Ramchandra, Umang Seth etc. Suddenly I felt so comfortable to be in the group. They did not seem bothered with the fact that I was deaf. I started talking to them and surprisingly they understood what I said. I was really happy. Then there was this guy who said that my smile was beautiful. That compliment made my day. I was on cloud nine. I was happy being gay and realized that I was like anyone else.
Yet, I could not reveal my identity to my parents or anyone in family. I was very scared. I left India and went to Canada to pursue Chef training where I was exposed to gay culture there. It was beautiful. I could not believe that they had gay bar, gay disco etc. Also I met so many queer people with disability that changed my life and I felt the confidence to tell my parents.
It was also during that time that my parents asked me to get married. I refused a few times but I started feeling pressurized. So I decided to come out of closet. I came to India to talk to them. My maushi (aunty) recieved me at the airport. While going to her house, she said that she has come to know about me. I was taken aback and asked what did she mean. She said that she knew that I was gay a long time ago and it was okay. I cried and hugged her tight. Then she suggested that I should not tell my mother about being gay as it may not be easy for her.
However, I did not feel like holding myself and came to Kerala to confront mother and sister. When I told them, my mother was really shocked and cried while my sister calmly supported me. My mother shouted me and asked me to promise that I would not tell my father as it might kill him with shock. I heeded and kept my promise. My mother was not ready to accept me so I went back to Canada and we both did not talk for two years. Meanwhile, she emailed me asking me not to come to near my nephew. I was furious and I blasted her that told her not to consider me as her son. That left her shocked. After a few months, my mother apologized for what she had done. I told her that I still loved her and she said that she said that she still loves me a lot. Much more than before!!!! She accepted me for who I am! But sadly, my father does not know about me and one day I hope to tell him.
Today, I am very proud that I am deaf and gay. I always look out for people who are similar to me. I tend to give them confidence and tell them my story. I do not want them to follow my path exactly but hope that my story gives them confidence to go beyond their boundaries.
Reblogged from : https://disabilitydiariesblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/taking-pride-deaf-and-gay/
It was the first clue of nature in discovering myself. I couldn’t help it but, fall for him. He was the new boy in my 6th grade, he was so charming in his own naughty way, he could easily get away from problems, his dressing sense, his mannerisms, everything!
I was a district level player and was indulged in all sorts of the so called ‘masculine’ sports activities, which my family had made me join to ward off the ‘sissy’ behavior in me, NCC was also one among them. And that one camp changed my entire life.
Anyone who has been to an NCC camp is very familiar with the term ‘Lota-Parade’. It simply is a code used at NCC for the morning session of pooping. We all cadets were supposed to go in a group of 10 at a time, dig a hole, do the necessary ritual and come back. Now this, was a major problem for a shy kid like me so, I decided to carry out my sessions of excretion post everyone is asleep at night. The initial 2 days went smoothly (pun intended) but, I was caught on the 3rd day. As it was the 1st time that I was caught in the act, I was left with a strict warning to which I did not pay heed and was again caught on the 4th day. This time they gave me a punishment for which, I had to do 200 somersaults. On a very honest note, for a shy kid like me, 200 somersaults didn’t seem much of a deal and hence, I prepared myself to do 200 somersaults every time I’d be caught. Unfortunately, in an institution as disciplinary as the NCC, punishments get severe with repetition.
With my shyness overpowering me, I repeated the same mistake on the 5th day as well. But now, it wasn’t going to be as easy as 200 somersaults. “You never learn, do you?” one of the seniors said. His tone made me realize that nothing is going to be the same anymore. The seniors pinned me to a nearby tree and assaulted me sexually.The acts that they carried out were something I pray no one should ever go through. That night, was the first time ever, that I had a physical thing with a guy. Definitely not something that I had imagined of but, it happened. A night that was now going to be my worst nightmare.
Somehow I wanted to get over everything that had happened to me at NCC but I couldn’t find any way out, and that was where I started drinking alcohol. The horrors of that night wouldn’t leave me. Even when I stood 70th in the entire country for IIHM, I couldn’t claim my seat in the institution as I was too scared to go through a mandatory physical test for the admission. The impact of that one night was such, that I discontinued my studies and started working. With the money chipping in from various jobs, I started drinking heavily and made a wall around me surrounded with so called ‘friends’ and ‘lovers’. All of those illusions seemed perfect in my drunk state.
Till the year 2008 I had absolutely no idea about the activities carried out by the community as a whole. Somehow I started getting in touch with members of the community and life seemed to change for better. By the year 2010, I had mustered courage and began talking to people who were around me. To my surprise I felt that I was not alone. It was the best feeling in the world.
The year 2013 was the biggest turning point of my life. In the same year I acquired a job in one of the most prestigious teaching institutions of India and the best part was that I didn’t have to be in the closet in front of my colleagues. The management also was so supportive of me and encouraged me to be myself. Post this, in February I attended the pride in Hyderabad and then it was time for the mask to fall off at my home.
Me and my dad were on one of our regular evening strolls when he asked, “do you want to talk about something?” I was puzzled and simply countered him asking, “what?!” I guess so he couldn’t keep it in anymore and asked me upfront, “Are you a homo!?” I honestly wanted to laugh at his use of the word in such a typical manner, but couldn’t for I had understood the depth of the situation and instead said, “No dad, I am not a ‘homo’, I am gay…”
That didn’t go very well & left me homeless.With no where to go, no roof over my head and just 200 rupees in my pocket and some pairs of clothes, I stayed in a Gurudwara for four days, eating only one full meal a day. Soon I moved in a cute little one-BHK and started living my life. It was 24th February, my birthday and for the 1st time, I was alone on my special day. It was then that I realized how much I was missing my family.
A few months later I received a call from my parents to inform me that, my younger sister is getting married to someone out of the caste and I was responsible for it. They justified it by saying that it was my ‘wild behavior’ that led her as well to cross the line. The call was made to blame me, but actually to invite me for her wedding.
Accepting the invitation I went back to my parent’s house and this time things were slowly turning around. The arguments between me and my father had reduced so much that now we started arguing twice a week and eventually those arguments reduced to some valid and sensible conversations. I got to know that my father had carried out his own research on LGBTQ and had already started coming to terms with it. It definitely took time, but eventually my father accepted me for who I am. He did not only stop at accepting his son but he also now started supporting me. I still remember how consoling he was towards me when I had come out of an eight month relationship.
Throughout my journey of coming out of the closet, I realized that there is nothing that cannot be defeated with courage. It is courage that we all need. The courage to be ourselves, the courage to express ourselves, the courage to approach people around us and most importantly, the courage to be truthful to our parents. If we are courageous enough to fight any situation in our lives, we can always stand tall. Because if we don’t fight, then who will?