Above all else, to thine own self be true!

Sanjay Kumar

Having just returned from a few days in Auroville, the Matrimandir has become to me a symbol of my coming out, emerging from the earth as it were to shine my light in all its brilliance as authentically and sincerely as humanly possible. My story of coming out as a gay man, the first I reckon in my entire community of neighbourhood, church, school, university and social network of my birth and upbringing, is an on-going challenging and exciting journey of self discovery and discovery of what all my relationships are really made of. I have experienced how being open and proud of my truth has repercussions not just for me but also for all who know me, especially my family. It’s a coming out for all of us not just me!
My first realisations of being gay were very early on in life, well it was not so much being gay but being effeminate. By the age of 7, I was aware that I was different to other boys, I didn’t like the rough and tumble of the playground, I preferred the company of girls and also older women, being creative, participating in domestic things that are typically socially associated with the feminine, into intellectual and spiritual debate. I used to love dressing up in my mum’s saris when no one was home! For being effeminate and sensitive I was teased and bullied, verbally sometimes physically, both by boys and girls and adults alike! The taunting was not just in the school field, but also in church, the neighbourhood and sometimes even at home. “You should’ve been born a girl” was often shouted out, like as though that was a bad thing. I grew up with the very clear notion that it was unsafe and unacceptable to be truly me.

To be loved I had to be what everyone else wanted me to be, my mother included.

So guess what, I did my best to be ‘the good boy’ everyone adored and loved and did that very well indeed right into my twenties, becoming the ‘blue eyed boy’ and shouldered the aspirations of an entire community. I now realise being the good boy is not a unique phenomenon, Dr Alan Downs in his best seller, “The Velvet Rage” talks of it as ‘the good boy trap’ where a lot of gay boys fall into the trap of becoming high achievers, excelling in multiple fields, mostly to compensate for that very deep inner fear of feeling less than our straight counterparts and indeed the shame involved with being gay. The messages that I grew up with was that being gay was sinful, disgusting, dirty, unacceptable, against nature, God and society and that I was going to hell, apart from a host of other negative messages. No one is born with shame. Shame is a learnt emotion. A powerful emotion.

The realisation that I liked boys and not girls happened much later as I was a late developer. The paisa truly dropped when I was about 16 nearing 17, when I realised there was no other way, this is who I am, its intrinsic to me, I’m not wilfully choosing to be attracted to boys, I’ve never been attracted to girls so it wasn’t that I was giving up my attraction for them in preference for boys either. These realisations were very private, I didn’t feel like I could trust anyone with this. There were no teachers, elders or guides I felt I could go to, to talk about this. Using my own initiative I went to a psychiatrist who I found in the newspapers who said that he could perhaps help me become bisexual, and even at that young age I knew he was a quack. There were no affirming messages anywhere to be found. There was no loving arm to hold me. There was no reassurance from anywhere. So I went deeper into the trap of being the good boy and went into the Church to train as a pastor, hoping religion and faith would cure me! Fasting and prayer only made matters worse. The isolation and confusion worsened and there was no one I felt who would understand or support me in this struggle.

Quite by chance while in seminary, a senior told me that his organisation was going over the weekend to a certain park to ‘evangelise’ gay men who met there. Everything changed from that moment on for me. What? Who? When? Where? The fact that there were other people like me? And there is a place where I could go and meet them? I can’t tell you how fast my heart beat! The excitement overwhelming!

Off I went the following week sometime in March 1997 and sure enough for the first time ever, met other men, even to just hold their hand and look in their eyes was like heaven. Soon I came to attend Good As You an organisation set up then for support and advocacy for the queer community which became a weekly support for me on Thursdays. I would sneak out of seminary and drive a 60km round trip just for this support and I’m glad it is still there today doing some amazing work in providing support for those coming out, I was one of their first voluntary counsellors on the telephone switchboard service they started way back then.

I hadn’t yet come out. Being the good boy however had its uses and I was sent off to Cambridge, UK in 1998 to do an internship by the seminary I trained in and was faculty-designate. While in Cambridge, I had the opportunity to talk to the greatest minds and scholars of Christianity both from the conservative and liberal schools of thought to make my own mind up about what the Bible had to say about being gay. As for me I had to find a way of reconciliation between my faith and my sexuality to be able to accept myself and come out. When I realised in a very profound way that the Bible does not condemn me for who I am, and that Jesus himself had much love and compassion for those who were not straight (Matthew 19:11,12) for Jesus was very much on the side of the marginalised of society, the fringe, the condemned. So I was able to come out to myself helped very much by a dear friend of mine who is now the Chaplain of the LSE and Prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. After much research again pretty much in hiding with little support as I was afraid I would be sent back home to India and disgraced if it came out into the open and was afraid of what impact it would have on my family.

The first person I came out to was my one and only older sibling, as I thought I would get a sympathetic ear. I was so wrong. I was in tears. I spoke to her over the phone while I was in Cambridge, only to be told that I was making a choice and that my choice was wrong, against God’s will and that I should never tell my parents as it would kill them and that she would never support this. That view hasn’t changed to this day. It tore me apart. I was unacceptable. For which I was often told, “You are always loved and accepted, its just THAT part of you which is unacceptable!” Is it a part of me or is sexuality a fundamental part of one’s psychological, sociological and sexual framework, of how one views and understands and lives out one’s place in the world? I had to know and understand. So I studied hard and became a psychotherapist and worked in the gay community providing individual and group therapy for the past 15 years. The Church was no longer an option for me as an out and proud gay man. I parted ways with the seminary which still today remains a sore wound it seems. The blue eyed boy had become the disappointment of an entire community, and a cause for gossip from school teachers to shop keepers. People who really didn’t know me much condemned me as a person of bad character! How being gay equated to bad character I would never know. In the Indian context one doesn’t have to explain the impact of such a “fall from grace” on friends and family.
So it was easier for me and them to be as far away from it all as possible. London became home to me for the next 17 years, where I was free to be me, explore who I was, make my mistakes, achieve my goals, have my relationships and break ups. There was not even one person in my network there who didn’t love me fully and wholeheartedly for being gay!

So the next stage was to tell my parents. I had kept saying no to the many proposals of marriage that were coming my way. While in Bangalore I too tried hard to conform and tried to have a girlfriend, and got it so wrong! Finally there was a marriage proposal in 2002 which came along that in the community seemed perfect in all respects! It had to be right, right?! I was in London and these conversations were happening in Bangalore! I was coming for the Easter vacations on holiday – great perfect time to be organising a wedding right? Wrong! I was dying inside! How was I going to say no to this proposal that from all angles and perspectives seemed right? Right except for one thing! That one thing! Suddenly that one thing became everything!

It was Maundy Thursday a special day in my calendar as on that day I was miraculously saved from death as a 3 year old child who had fallen off the roof of his house into a granite stone gutter, this miracle commemorated every year, that God had saved me for a special purpose! I sat my folks down around the dining table, my sister knew what was coming. I told my folks that I couldn’t marry. I could marry this girl or any girl for that matter. There were no words, suddenly no vocabulary sufficient to put the point across effectively. The words “I am gay” felt empty and meaningless. So I said, I’m not attracted to women, I can’t make women happy etc it was excruciating! Tears everywhere. Mum and Dad suggesting medical treatment thinking I was impotent. Slowly over the next few days the penny dropped for them too to a certain degree. Suddenly the conflict between love and faith became real. Tested for the first time in such a fundamental way. I must say I’m lucky to have the family I have for it is their love that binds us all together even though their understanding of the Bible seems to prevent them from accepting me for who I am. I’ve tried fighting and arguing my case over the years. 17 years later I have returned back from London and to find that much of what I ran away from is still very present. There’s much work to be done. What I am in control of is me accepting them for who they are, and love them even though they may not accept me, yet. My father on the other hand has indeed worked very hard in understanding. He has listened to all the debates on TV when way back in the mid 2000s the Delhi High Court had ruled against section 377. He made a scrap book of all the newspaper articles on the subject, saying “son, all the arguments you give, they are also saying.” Bless him. He and I have since become friends. I know he understands. He shows it in his own way and that is enough for me.


In 2005 I met my partner. I had a wonderful long relationship with him a dear handsome Swedish man my first ever real relationship. After almost 4 years of being together we visited India together and met the whole family of course not explicitly. My parents came to London to stay with us twice. On the second visit we decided to have a civil union, my family were very opposed to it and would not approve even though they all loved my partner. We went ahead anyway, the family did not attend. We thought we’d give the family a year to think about it and so we had a big wedding in Stockholm a year later but sadly the family decided not to participate and I was told not to tell anyone about it either, so I had no representation from my Indian side at my wedding. Sadly when we separated a few years later, that process too was without much support for they did not know how to I reckon, and didn’t accept or validate that relationship fully in the first place.

Slowly over the years others in my family have come to understand and support albeit privately. Other childhood friends from school, college and even church community have shown support and acceptance which is truly wonderful. Things are changing for the better. When people realise that the Queer community is actually PRO-community in so many wonderful ways, and when we are allowed to freely be who we truly are as equals, society will see what an immense blessing we can be in our homes, communities and in the work place, we tend to bring a certain quality of joy, colour and life.
Yes it is lonely being the minority of one in such a vast sea of community. However, as in the words of Polonius to his son Laertes in Hamlet “Above all else to thine own self be true” this is worth all of the hardship. To live one’s own life, not the expected life of the community. To shine one’s own light, to know, love and live out one’s own truth. What value can you put on that?

To those still thinking of coming out, I would say as a friend once told me, “If it is truth you have to suffer for, then that suffering is worth more than anything else in the world.” I would say work on your love with your family, trust your love, love conquers all. Where there is love, there is victory. What my sister feared would happen, “don’t tell them, it will kill them,” is what I too believed and feared would happen, it never did. In fact, our relationship is more real that it ever was, its not easy or smooth sailing by any means but at least it is authentic. Where there is love there is no fear.

SANJAY KUMAR,

Bsc.M.A.PgDip

Psychotherapist

Soumitri

My first touch with homosexuality was when I was 12 years old, by a new student who just joined my class. His touch felt something different, sitting in the back bench of our class, the touch got engrossed every day. I was a child unware of the facts and fictions. I was a child who was bullied every single day for my name, for my postures, for who I am. I belong to a small city called Bhubaneswar, the so called Temple City.

I was born to a middle class Brahmin family in one of the holy place or dham according to Hindu mythology that is Puri where Lord Shri Jagannatha resides, the 10th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. I was admitted to a central government school, where students from all over the India with different religion, caste and race studied together. I was a care-free, cheerful and happy student all the time, regardless of what I was facing every day. I am Soumitri, rare and unique in my own way. But not to everyone, for the past 13 years I was bullied and eve teased for my name as its sounds like a female name. I was named swamistri ( Husband & wife ) , Chakka ( Transgender ) and the list goes on . I was effeminate and used to talk very politely so was again bullied. For a small child like me, it was just unbearable, I used to complain to my teachers, and to my surprise they said it was my fault and you know in India Teachers are God so, I thought ya it was mine, I tried hard, very hard to change myself because I was tired of crying and moaning every night for what I was going through. You must be thinking , why didn’t I complain to my parents , as I said I am a middle class student , so my parents main concern was to get me educated. And due to which I never got into any fights or raise voice because I have this constant fear that if my parents come to know about it, even though I won’t be guilty, but still I will be beaten up. Studying in a government school, I got to knew that how rapidly a rumor can spread and how easily the students start believing in that. After the summer vacation I was in 7th standard and there was this tall , lean , fair guy whom I was seeing for the 1st time in my class , for the 1st time I was dumbstruck seeing this guy . I remember the movie ” Tare Zameen Par ” and my school screened that movie for us in our school , I was sitting in the ground and to my surprise this new guy was also sitting at the back , I was completely into the movie when , I literally cried and he hugged me and said its ok and asked if I can join him to the washroom and I said a yes , we went and nobody was there and he suddenly kissed me , I was kissing a guy for the 1st time and started liking it more . Few days passed and I got to hear that I tried kissing him and the rumor spread like virus and it became my worst nightmare. Nature helped me a lot to get through all these, it gave me strength and power to stand still and face this bloody world. I soon passed my 10th, chose biology and my experiment with boys started with fake profile in Facebook, then PR and later on Grindr. 3 years passed and I came to Chennai for my UG studies, while I was in my 1st year, I used to stay in hostel and that too boys hostel. Later on I got to understand that am GAY , but still used to blame God and used to ask why me and used to cry a lot for that .

Soumitri

Then when after lot of studies and realization. It took me hell lot of time to accept myself as GAY, because I was left alone and scared to talk about it. It was the last few months left to complete when I came out to one of my classmate and he supported me, like for the 1st time I accepted myself in front of other and was smiling for what I am. Then in second year of my college I came out to my only roommate and again he accepted the way I am, he is straight and till now we share a single bed and he even helps me in dating, dressing up, flirting and lot more. Then that particular year I came to all my dearest friends and they all accepted the fact, I didn’t even loose a single one of them. Then I entered into third year of my college and thought that this year I will come out of my closet to my parents, but kind of scared so dropped the plan. But on November 12 , suddenly I came out to my parents with no preparation , no advance planning and they accepted me and advised me to focus on my career , soon I came out to whole world . I am the only openly, out and proud GAY in my college, some accepts me and some don’t. Though my relatives doesn’t know about it but then I think one day they will also understand because love is never wrong. And currently continuing my 3rd year and probably searching for my true partner.

 

I care for you a lot

Ajay Redij

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PC: All images linked to their original sources.

It was happy yet sad ending

Sozz Siddiqui

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

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

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

Part II

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

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

Part III

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

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

It’s my life and I should live it

Nalin

Bangalore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreams do come true!

Sandeep Nair

Bangalore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandeep & Ruben

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

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

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

I am gifted with homosexuality

Rajesh Tiwary

Pune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I gradually accepted myself

“Chaaka hai Kya.”?

“Third Gender hai Tu to”

“Muh Meh LeLe”

“Tere  Boobs Hai.”

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

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

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

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

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

I gradually accepted myself as who I am.

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

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

Born Gay Proud to be what I m.!

#abvian

I’m lucky to be me

I never felt like I was different, mostly because I never realized that the way I felt about girls was romantic. I knew in the back of my mind that what I felt for that one girl in class was more than strong friendship – something ‘special’. But I didn’t know what LGBT stood for, and felt sorry for Karan Johar when he was called ‘so gay’. As I grew up, however, I quickly had an intuition that maybe these feelings aren’t as acceptable in society as they were to me – I stopped telling my friends how pretty I thought that new girl was, how much I wanted to spend all my time with her. This awareness became stronger as I realized that I didn’t want to be L,G,B or T… the thought of me being gay would send this feeling of dread through me. By the time my class X boards rolled around, I was crushing on a girl in my class and actively denying it to myself.

Samyukta

Two years later, I could no longer deny that the feelings I had for women were undeniably romantic – although I still could not recognize it as something beautiful. I encouraged myself to look at boys, think of them romantically, and I spent hours surfing the web for ‘Am I gay?’ on my mother’s laptop, which I was supposed to be using for research on a chemistry project. I took numerous tests that confirmed that I was straight, bisexual, gay, somewhere in between. This, combined with the entrance test pressure, put this constant weight on every breath I took. One day, unable to take it anymore, I sent the same text to three of my friends – one, my best friend for about four years at the time, one being the girl I was crushing on at the time, and the third being a close guy friend (who I was trying to have feelings for).  All three of them were exceedingly supportive, but as they say, you’ve first got to come out to yourself. After a few more months, I realized the futility of my denial, and finally accepted myself as queer.

Onward from there, I have been extremely lucky, in that my friends have never considered this as an issue. The fact that this did not change how they saw me as a person, as a friend, as a teammate, gave me more confidence. By my fourth year in college, I was ‘accidentally’ coming out to friends (one of my friends saw me using a ‘gay dating app’ in a lab class, and was just about to google the app on the university computer when I had to tell him everything. He laughed). The day before I was leaving for my third year of college, my mother (once again!) asked me if I had a boyfriend as I sleepily stumbled to get my morning coffee. After my curt ‘no’, she asked if I had a girlfriend. This time wavering slightly, I once again said ‘no’. She then asked, ‘do you want a girlfriend?’, and my expression (how the hell did you know?!) said it all. She expressed a look of mild shock, and then told me to go downstairs and buy some milk, at which point I gratefully fled the scene. We don’t talk much about me being gay, but I did call her up later (when I was far away from the awkward situation) and told her that I was serious. She is careful not to mention ‘husband’, preferring ‘spouse’ or ‘partner’, when she speaks of my marriage. I’m thankful to have her. My sister never had a problem with it, hypothesizing that ‘all women are a little gay, I think…’

I feel deeply that we need to have more of a conversation about sexuality from early on. It would help out people who are realizing that they are not the default ‘heterosexual’, to avoid this unnecessary period of self-doubt and depression. I always wished that I had someone to talk to, who understood how I felt. After so many years, my sexuality seems so natural to me, that I forget sometimes that it is still socially unacceptable. It just seems ridiculous to me, that some people judge others based on who they fall in love with. It can be combated only if there is a conversation that reaches the most conservative ears. Sometimes, people think that LGBT people are some kind of mythical creatures, only occurring in dark, shady places. If more people realized that the folks in their office, in their daily routine may just be gay, and going through the struggles that a queer individual has to deal with in this country, social acceptance won’t be that difficult to achieve.  

 

And now that I experience the love of a woman, I couldn’t be happier  🙂 

I was not ready to accept myself

 

When I was seven years old I realized that I’m different from everyone around me. I used to play with my cousins and my sister most of the time at home, I was never interested to play cricket with my classmates the reason being I couldn’t mingle with any of them. I used to like a TV actor and would dream that someday he will come and marry me, then I realized that it will never became a reality because I was told only a man and woman can get married but not two men.

I buried all my thoughts and concentrated on my studies, I used to spend my time reading my books and watching TV soaps with my mom. The confusion again triggered when I started getting attracted to a cousin of mine. In the mean time I got to know one of my close friend since childhood is also different like me but I was not ready to come out to myself, I guess that was the most difficult for me more than to coming out to my parents. I was not ready to accept myself because I’ve never seen anyone like me in my family. I didn’t know whom to talk to, I was scared if my parents would disown me. Having all these thoughts & fears in my mind I used to sleep crying; almost every day.

Few years later when I came to Hyderabad I heard the term GAY for the first time and I started searching for like-minded people. Search started from Orkut and PlanetRomeo (a dating site for men) I thought my dream of getting married to a guy might now be possible. But I never knew it’ll be so very difficult. I was not a conventionally good looking guy and most of the guys I used to talk to were after these so called good looking guys. I felt out of place in my own community where I thought I would find someone who will be with me forever but I was criticized for my dressing, hair and my physique. As I always wanted someone to love me the way I’m, I never gave importance to my looks. I’ve made few best friends (I thought they’re). Later I met few other guys but never got that spark until I met this man who swept me off my feet. I thought he is the man I was waiting for and started dating him. It didn’t last for long, I found that he was cheating on me and I was left heart broken. I spent around a month crying for him and then my mum found out me crying one night and asked me the reason, and then I told her “I had a breakup“. She asked who that girl is and then I said it’s not a girl it’s a boy and told her “I’m Gay”. My mum didn’t understand for few minutes and then my dad came in and I told him as well. The next reaction was “We are with you, don’t worry about it, we will go to a doctor and everything would be fine“.

I really wanted to change I thought I would give my 100% to change. I’ve visited many psychiatrist and psychologist but my problem was not solved. I realized that it can’t be changed and I was depressed. My dad told my uncle about my sexuality and they came to my home and beat me, locked me in a room and called all the people in my phone book and threatened them not to talk to me. I then realized I never made true friends, none of them were there to support me, and none of them tried talking to me. After a month of torture I left home with a person who claimed to love me but my parents traced me and took me back home..

I made it clear to my parents that I will never stay with them if they don’t accept me the way I am. From that day my dad never spoke about my sexuality till now. My mom is pretty much okay with it but never speaks about it and I really want to give them time as I think it’s very difficult for them as well to understand all this. I started concentrating on my career, I started working part time job at Tata services and continued my studies I completed my studies and got placed in a nice company. I started concentrating on my looks, I tried working on myself. People who earlier criticized me for my clothes, now take fashion advice from me. People who said I was not good looking want to sleep with me now. All these things apart my parents are proud of me, my dad says that I made my own career without anyone’s help. My mom is a strong support for me; she was there for me whenever I need her. She always say not to trust anyone and she is scared that I’ll be all alone in my life.

I’ve never lost any of my friends because of my sexuality, I’ve never been discriminated by any of them. I’m 25 years old I’ve made my own decisions how my life should be and I don’t regret any of them. It’s been difficult journey but it made me the person who I’m today. I realized that when you be yourself and love yourself, whole world will love you!