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!

 

It did sanctify which team I played for

Koel Chakraborty

I believe coming out is a lifelong process. You may come out to your friends and family once, but you are never quite done with coming out to the rest of the world (N.B. I speak for people who’d rather come out than be oddly mistaken for ‘the straight girl that hasn’t found the right guy’). I believe that is one hefty price to pay for occasionally choosing to network outside your known boundaries.

For me, fortunately, the process of self-discovery was very organic. I guess I always knew. I do not have any conscious memory of ever having sexual feelings for any men. On the other hand, I could recall obsessing over countless women (both reel and real) throughout my entire adolescent life. The first mortal kiss was at 13 (to be honest I was surprised it took me that long); albeit unforthcoming, it did sanctify which team I played for ☺

School was definitely the highlight of my teenage years, for good reasons and bad. I am alluding to the bevy of beauties when I say ‘good’. The bad part was – most of our teachers were bullies and it wasn’t really a safe space for anyone who’s questioning their sexuality. Aside from getting a lot of attention from girls, I invited some teachers’ wrath as well. I remember vividly, someone from senior class vehemently crafted a dodgy story about how some of us tomboys (an overtly popular term back in the day) were always running after girls, thereby corrupting the moral of the school. What followed was an unscrupulous profiling and witch hunt for days together. I was identified as one of the miscreants and therefore asked to ‘behave’. Instead of broaching the critical issues of gender and sexual orientation tactfully, they chose to ignore the big elephant in the room. The school principal took it up a notch; she called the entire school and took us all through a morbidly long lecture about how ‘science’ denounces the idea of ‘homosexuality’ and homosexual people are nothing but ‘an unnatural order’ – the usual trope. A lot of these girls who experienced this backlash went back to pursuing the ‘lesser evil’ – that of a full-fledged hetero-normative life.  

By the time I was in high school, I knew I was a distinguished member of the minority. It’s easy to figure that out when everyone else in your class is gleefully talking about ‘boys’ and you are the only one reading Sara Waters or mulling over classics such as Sophie B Hawkins’ ‘Damn I wish I was your lover’, Linda Perry’s ‘What’s going on’, K. D. Lang’s ‘Constant Craving’ or contemplating refuge in the alternate universe of The L Word, or even Shakira’s hip snaps. Music was my sacred space and it got me through puberty, heartbreaks and college.

Upon finishing college, I decided to move out of my parent’s house and move in with my girlfriend at the time who was living in a different city. I wasn’t out to my family up until then. When I told them my plan, they were terribly upset; my father was infuriated and my mom just sat there and cried. I was at my wit’s end, I didn’t know if they were upset that I was leaving home or if it was the revelation that I was in a relationship with a woman. Or may be it was both. It’s been a few years; my parents have since accepted my reality. But ‘queer’ words are still off limits.  

‘Coming out as who we are’ is not just personal, it has political implications as well. It is an act of solidarity that helps us reclaim our space in the dominant hetero-patriarchal narrative, making sure our identities are acknowledged and validated across the board. By remaining silent, we’re indirectly perpetuating the delusion that ‘hiding’ is a far safer choice for our emotional well-being. We also have a fundamental obligation to all those who are less privileged, who cannot contemplate ‘coming out’ as a viable option as they do not see enough of queer folks around them. Twenty years from now, I would imagine kids would have an easier time at school, not feeling like they are a minority. Sounds largely optimistic. But what do we have to lose?

If we don’t fight, then who will?

Avinash Kohli

Hyderabad

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.

Sexual assault : Image representational

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.

Homelessness: Image representational

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?

Tears of exasperation by an effeminate are crushed

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

Her mantra:

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

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

Kinnaras of the Dark World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– SHILOK MUKKATI

When you try to ‘fit’ in, you will disappear.

Himanshu Singh

Mumbai

The one thing that I learned from Harry Potter saga is that nobody should ever live in a closet. Tetris taught me that when you try to ‘fit’ in, you will disappear.

I am much more than my sexuality. My close friends would know me as a writer. Childhood friends would know me as a painter. IIMK friends would know me as a pathetic actor and as an amateur photographer. I am an ambitious soul who yearn to learn. I aspire to become a great pianist someday. How does my sexuality define me as an individual? But it is certainly one of the most fundamental part of my being. My sexuality is not a phase, it never was. It is not a disease, it is not a mental disability, it is not a choice, and definitely not a disgrace. I was born this way. I realized it when I was 14. It is so saddening to say that I had to strive for normalcy to be in societal norms all these years. It smothered me for quite a long time. Why do people advice to tell it to only those who matter? Why it has to be hushed and shushed?

People reading this post would ask – Does it matter to anyone? Why do I need to shout the truth aloud? Does it change anything? Probably! If I lose friends, family and my loved ones over this, it is important to me. If this post could give courage to others, this is important to them. I don’t expect support as much as I expect respect as a human being.
There are so many people out there who are still struggling to come out. I just want to give a message that you are not alone and I am with you. Somehow the below lines inspired me to come out –

“We don’t have to be ordinary, Make your best mistakes,
‘Cause we don’t have the time to be sorry, be the life of the party!
I’m telling you to take your shot it might be scary, Hearts are gonna break,
But we don’t have the time to be sorry, so baby be the life of the party!”

Right now my brain is going 2 million miles per hour. From internal turmoil to acceptance. Describing them in words is not easy. This is the strongest decision of my life. My hands are little cold but the heart is confident. A new man is born today. Life will never be the same from now on. And I am going to love it anyway.

Not everyone was privileged enough to be a Mathew’s (my Humanities teacher in IIMK) student. Do not make wrong assumptions, notions. Have an educated view. Ask honest questions. Respect Individuality.

REMEMBER – Your assumptions, lack of knowledge, ignorance and phobias are killing your closeted friends. Everyday!
I am so grateful to my parents, my brother, close friends and flatmates who supported me immensely on this.

Special Note: Dear LGBTQ fellows, if you are facing any kind of challenge or need any guidance, please feel free to reach out to me. Call me on (+91-8447798932) or email me (himanshu.singh087@gmail.com), if you think that I may be of some help. You have got only one life. Live it well. Play it well. Don’t be afraid of anything or anyone.

I am the same “Anish” that you know.

Anish Alex Mathew

From: Cochin, Kerala

Currently: Bangalore

alex

A letter to the parents.


Hi Appa and Amma,

Just wanted to let you know this letter is from my heart and I mean it a lot.

Earlier part of my life

During my childhood, I used to be very playful and wonder why I am not getting any “girlfriends”. I came to a conclusion that, I might have not reached the right stage. I used to remember Amma saying that this was the age to study and not wonder and about “girlfriends”. I realized that she is right; I should concentrate more studies which I did. But, I had these confused attractions. I used to feel attracted towards women as well as men (I have bolded it because you should realize what I am attracted to).

Being a good Christian boy, I used to keep saying it is a sin and keep repressing myself by saying that it’s just a phase. It continued all the way to college. I used to be attracted to both the sexes. But, I was still confused. I didn’t know who to talk to because it was such a taboo to talk about. I tried to get a girlfriend and vice versa happened. However, I failed miserably.

I was confused in Hyderabad also. I went after girls at my workplace. None of them were interested or they took me for a ride.

Bangalore days

When I came to Bangalore, I realized that I am a bisexual man. Yes, I love to be with men as well as women. I know it will come as a shock to you. Can you think for a moment? Why do I feel attracted to both sexes at same time? I realized that, I should educate you rather you being ignorant and plain stubborn to listen to my views. Please don’t think it has a disease or a sin. This is how I am and nothing is going to change it.

In Bangalore, I met various kinds of people who educated me about my sexuality. Did you know that bisexual people are not accepted in the community itself? Just because of the assumption that we might cheat upon our partners. Initially, I thought I was gay and that was the point of time, when you both had doubts about me. But, whenever, I was approached by a woman or a girl. I had this sense of attraction towards them. So, I came to conclusion that I am a bisexual man. Period!

The Bible, Marriage and Church

Now, you may say that, I have strayed away from God or say this is unnatural. But, this is who I am! Nothing is going to change me. You can get me married off to a random girl. Remember, you are putting that girl’s life at stake. If in case, it doesn’t turn out well, you guys will regret it and not me. This is because I have already foreseen the future.  I wanted to ask you a question – Why is there hatred in this world towards LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community? Even the church that preaches of love hates them. Why? It is because of the hypocrisy in this various churches and world that made me realize God lives in me and I pray to him only. He knows me. He made me. If he hated me, do you think I would be in this world? I pray for people who scream slogans saying “God hates fags” because they don’t know what God is thinking about His children. He has created them with His very own hands.

Facebook drama

All those drama regarding FB, where I was sharing stuff about LGBT rights. I was trying to fight for people like me. We deserve freedom as well.

Amma – I didn’t expect Ankita to tell you last time. I trusted her and shared with her about my sexuality. She broke my trust basically because of insecure feelings towards me. That’s the reason, why I don’t share anything with her now.  I expected you to be supportive instead of quoting from the Bible. I know the Bible and read it millions of times. You will still think that I am not doing prayers properly and etc. etc. When I am not in peace with myself, how can I have peace around me? I still pray. Please stop worrying about that. I still believe in God. Just don’t believe in churches anymore.

Appa – If you had any doubts about me, you should have directly raised your concern with me. Not push Amma to make calls to me and question me. Do you realize it is actually a mental torture?  I always realized why you don’t show me the extra warmth like how you show Ankita.

Mayamma

As a performer, I just tried her out because I wasn’t making it anywhere by being Alex Mathew.  When, I became her, people appreciated me and said I have guts to do it. I am doing drag because I feel I am doing different from others. I prefer to be a man on streets and be a woman on stage just to entertain people.  I have got many opportunities to be part of photoshoots, be part of plays and so many performances.

Amma? I am really sorry; I have lost trust in Ankita completely. I was beginning to share with her. But, she showed her true colors again. Last night, the way you called me up was just unnecessary.

Fabulous parents

You both haven’t failed miserably as parents. There hasn’t been a day I thank God that I have lovely parents.  You should try and understand my point of view. Why am I like this? Please learn more about my sexuality and not be ignorant about it. And, please don’t blame each other by raising fingers. I am the same “Anish” that you know. Just that, my sexual attraction is a bit different and I hope you understand that.

And, if you are wondering about what you say to others etc. Please! I don’t live for others anymore. They are just relatives to me and their opinions shouldn’t concern you either.

I had to say this to both of you because I can’t live in a world where everything is rosy and I feel like a caged bird.

On top of all, I am writing this as a letter because I couldn’t see an opportunity to talk to both of you. Maybe because you are facing issues with other family members and I didn’t want to burden you with this problem. But, you need to stop being ignorant and accept me the way I am. That’s all I am asking for.

I still love you as my parents. And, I hope you still do the same to me.

Love,

Anish

Gay means swavargaanuragi

Nithin Raj

Bangalore


nitin

The not so planned coming out:Some excerpts from the conversation is in Malayalam

One fine evening I was studying whilst my mother was watching TV in the adjacent room. The show named ‘Comedy Stars’ was being broadcasted on Asianet. The show frequently features drags and Trans women in comical roles. Suddenly my mother enquired as to why ‘these’ people run away from their homes.

Image Credits

The conversation that ensued –

Me: That’s because they are not accepted in their families. They are ill-treated and many a times kicked out of their homes with nowhere to go. And many of them end up in large cities and fall victims to exploitation.

Mother: Why would any parents kick their children out of their homes? That’s not true.

Me: Is it?

Mother: All parents love their children no matter what.

Me: Oh please. All these dialogues are good to hear. You too would have done the same.

Mother: No. I will not disown my child if it was born that way (She does not have a very good idea about the LGBT population. When she said this, she was referring to intersex persons). I will bring the child up proudly and love it.

Me: *laughing cynically*

Mother: What?

Me: What if I told you I was one of them (pointing to the Trans women on the TV screen)?

Mother: Enittu poda vrithikedu parayade [Get out… Do not utter such dirty things]

Me: Dha ippo ningal ningade thani niram kanichu [See, you showed your true colors now].

Mother: Shut up. You’re my son. I know you. I didn’t bring you up this way. I am sure of it.

Me: Ok here’s the thing. I am not Trans but gay. You may accept or deny but that is not going to change.

Mother: What do you mean by gay? Is this why you told me you will not marry? (I have been telling her I wouldn’t marry since my 10th grade).  Pinne kanmashi? (I used to wear suruma frequently).

Me: Gay means swavargaanuragi (Homosexual). Yes this is why I told you I wouldn’t marry. Kanmashi enikku istham ullaond idum, poyi case kodukku. (I wear suruma because I like to, go file a petition if you want to)

Mother: I do not understand anything. What are you telling? Do you want to go to a doctor? Oh God! How will I tell this to your father?

Me: I can’t explain it to you any more mother. Please call sister and ask her to explain.

*She immediately calls my sister. Part of the reason why I told her to call my sister was because they always communicated very openly and freely while I was very reserved. And partly because I didn’t have to come out to her again*

Conversation between them –

Mother: Hey look what your brother is saying. He says he is gay? What does that mean? I am much tensed here.

Sister: Ma. What happened? Calm down. Gay means boys who like boys (in that way).

Mother: Chi. What are you telling.

Sister: I knew it like at least five years back. (This was a pleasant surprise to me as I had never told her. Apparently she gathered as much from some of my posts on Facebook advocating LGBT rights).

Mother:  Hmmm

Sister: Remember my best friend used to go out with that girl. Well they were in a relationship. They stayed together bunking classes and have had sex too. (She was describing two of her friends). They were resolved to live together. Look where she is now, married and happy with a kid. Your son is still young, don’t stress him now. Let him study. We will speak about this after ten years or so. It is a phase.

Mother: Okay.

*Hangs up and then comes to me*

Mother: You. (Pointing her fingers at me) You better don’t have any plans of running away. We were there for you till now. And we will be there for you always. I will take you to a good counselor and everything will be sorted.  And I am not going to tell your father a word about this.

Thereafter I resumed studying. It felt good to come out.