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.

Every day is battle

Anonymous

Yes I didn’t come out to my parents but my surrounding society made them know about my sexuality. Yes I am Muslim and queer. I am proud of my sexuality, of being a 21 year old Bangalore based gay guy, and I am doing my graduation in well-known college of the city. Being a Muslim I never felt uncomfortable about my sexuality. We are 4 members cute family, my mom dad and my sister who is 7 years younger to me. Being queer even I faced sexual abuse, harassment and blackmail during my childhood. In my childhood I thought I was only person in this universe who is attracted to same gender. My first abusive experience was with my own cousin brother, I was in just 8th grade at that time. Later my school senior when I was in 9th grade who abused me couple of times.

My mom was from rural area, she was 37 year when I was 20 and she was suffering my major cardiac problem called as Dilated Right Atrium. Only one side of her heart was working, I took her to all major hospitals in Bangalore and cardiac surgeons.

I felt alone and depressed. To find company I went to dating sites to overcome the sadness, I was around 20 then. I met many guys through dating apps, it was going on well. In the other hand I was the only one taking care of my mom, my dad and my sister never bothered. At my age every one love to explore their life and express themselves, so I was bit open to social networks such as Facebook and Instagram about my sexuality. I had great followings. I was active in events and parties. Another truth is that girls love gays and I had many girls following from my college and my neighborhood too.

I don’t know why I was in depression. Was that due to my sexuality or my problems at home? I was not able to bare my mental trauma, all my days were filled with tears. Every night my pillow and bed knows how many emotions I was hiding inside me. I was not able to withstand it. I had questions “Should I come out to my mom?” But I was not able because she was not healthy and she may get heart attack if she hears about my life because I was the only son for them. But the day came it was January 17 /2017 night my mom expired leaving me alone. I can’t forget that day how it was, I can’t explain it in any words. At last even I was not even able to express my sexuality and reality to my mom. My aunty took my sister because she was young and needed attentions. I was alone at home. My father was working from early morning and coming back by night 10pm. I totally house arrested myself for a month, none of my neighbors or relatives came to meet me.

I myself want to meet a psychiatrist, I was not well. No sleep at night always crying and thoughts of suicide. My psychiatrist was very supportive to me, even though I went to a government hospital. She was the only doctor I meet until now, who was open to hear about my all problems

My neighbors and relatives were always speaking about my pictures on social media and many raised question if I am in gay. The rumor went into my father’s ears. I was studying for my final year exams, he came into my room just cried a lot, and I was today confused about what was happening.

All my relatives showed my picture & videos of my social media, which was bit girlish. My dad abused me so much with his words I was not able to bare them. But I thanked God because someone helped me to come out my dad. He house arrested me, morning from 9-4 college, at 4.40 evening I was to reach home. He was looking in my room, checking my phone; he was drunk and started abusing me and scolding as “hijra chakka ..gay” and all even my neighbors stared speaking that I am hi-tech gay. Not only neighbors, even my sister who is 7 years younger than me started scolding me. She acted like spy on me, she was carrying all information of mine to dad. My dad is blackmailing me if I go out or post any picture on social media he himself will commit suicide and write my name in letter.

I have hope that one day my family and neighboring society will understand me. I hope that day is very near, this typical Muslim family will understand me and bring my smile back on my face.

I know my mom’s soul have understand the emotional burden I am hiding in me, I know she has accepted me from heaven I can even feel her warm hug!

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!

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  🙂 

A Miss or a Messy Miss

  “Had it not been a miss by God, I would have been born as Miss”

Why is this a mess? Because the incongruity between mind and body generates a huge amount of stress and its energy sapping (cannot be compensated by Glucon :D). To compound it, there’s a hell of process to go through to be what I really am. There’s a fear of outcome of process; what if it turns out different than what brain has perceived because hormones have already played the unintended part, so, how much it could be corrected. To further compound it, there is massive societal pressure; many people tend to fear us or make fun of us. To compound it even more, I like my job, what will happen to it.

So, there’s no easy way out, except the technology shown in Mr. India or ability possessed by Raven (X-Men). After battling these thoughts for so many years, the stress absorbing black hole (brain) is bursting with this negative energy, so, finally I have reached a stage where thoughts have turned suicidal. Although I am seeking counselling to manage them; I have no idea who will go first, so, a snippet of how it has been till now.

Childhood
————–
As is common with kids who have Gender Identity Dysphoria (GID), there’s somehow a belief from this early age, that there’s something which is not right. Unfortunately, there’s no name which pops up what to name “not right”. This is more so, if you are not a millennial, since the internet was not there, not much content on television except Ramayan/Vikram Betaal/Shaanti. Oh! By the way, I liked Mandira Bedi in Shaanti too much.

So, before too much negative thoughts start making sense, I have been recently diagnosed by a psychiatrist with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I then starting co-relating my quite fearful thoughts up till now. I think it’s because of this, I never came out to my parents, fearing exceptionally bad things could happen. Now, as if other stresses were not enough for me, there’s another thing messing in the black hole, which is not allowing me to make my decisions as quickly as I would want. In this case, so many years.

I was a thin frame not growing more than 4’6″ till my 10th standard. So, with a tiny frame, I was not physically prepared to respond to being bullied. There were many instances which I could easily remember, out of which here is one. It may not sound a big thing as it is, but seeing from kid perspective getting ridiculed for a small thing as choice of color is torture. When discussing about things, other kids used to ask the favorite color, so, obviously favorite color was blue, although I liked blue, there were other colors too which I couldn’t name them because I have seen kids being ridiculed just for this stuff.

A good few centimeters later, where I could wear non-infant clothes, there was instance, when my mom was making a skirt for my cousin and she used to check its size on me. I was happy with it, now you can imagine why. Obviously, someone has to make fun of me, so, it were the siblings. I was not born thick skinned, so, although I was happy wearing the skirt, I chose to resist the temptation because I didn’t want to take this bullying from siblings. Then, a few more centimeters later, I was given my elder sister’s jean which I obviously liked as the fit was good, and then had to return it to her since I was not ready for the name-calling. My mom thought that I don’t like jeans and never got me any jeans over next few years. There were many other things too but, I will move onto some more centimeters ahead.

Coming out – Myself/Mom
———————————–
When I was around 11 years old, there came a time which initially seemed a phase to me. I just wanted to be a girl and, I had no clue why, and there was more stress building up. My mom’s a homemaker, and I had seen all the stuff which she used to do. Although I wanted to try it out to learn that, but, I was too afraid to come out because I thought my education will be stopped and I’ll be forced to sit at home. So, I decided to just go on, and study well. I started struggling a lot with studies over next years but somehow I made something out of me. On the same centimeters count, one day the GID stress subsided a bit and I was bit relaxed thinking, it’s a phase and it’s gone. However, it wasn’t a phase, the feeling came again may be within 6 months or so, which never got ever, and probably be over when I am brain dead.

It was my 12th standard when I came out to my Mom. I had no thoughts about how my mom would react, but I was like not prepared for anything. She asked me if it’s about some girl or some stuff I am unable to recall. I pleaded my mother not to tell papa, because my anxiety had me thinking that papa will blame my mom, so, I wanted to block this information from him. Although I knew, papa is quite good, even then I had some more fearful thoughts. So, few inches later, I got into engineering college, and GID stress was growing, still hiding behind anxiety thinking that it’s the right way to go at least for now.
A consolation is that I have worked for quite a number of companies which would otherwise have been out of my reach. These are really big companies, so, anxiety took many things – but gave me quite a lot too.

Career
———
I completed my Engineering and got a job. The only company I feared was Infosys because of its dress code. I never wanted to part of it, because I knew I couldn’t survive in it. At least casual clothing was a bit of breather in that stranglehold. I will not reveal the company which I worked for in the first. The next company I switched too, I started dressing androgynously and was already getting the eyebrows raised. It’s common to be ultra-self-conscious when starting out like that. Finally, I decided to tell papa, but again couldn’t do so because of some more scary thoughts.

I feared I could be administered testosterone shots because I had already gone through some text that it is due to hormonal imbalance in pregnancy and I feared that if he will stumble on it, I am gone. I had also read about people getting electric shocks for this. To me being alive with this stress was okay than being through that torture.

Now
——
Now, most of my family knows who I am, and obviously they are not liking it. In past few months, I have been trying to cope up with all this stress as I have been doing since so long, but the black hole of stress is spinning out of control. I am quite emotional and because of my commitments I have already made in my life I have come to a crossroads. Although, all the commitments have been very transparent, and thankfully I don’t have the guilt of hiding anything, but still.

So life goes on, and lets see what’s in store next.

The queer siblings

Rahul & Mohini

Bangalore

Excited he runs down to the first floor to meet her right next to the lift at the mall.

He: “third shelf, second row, dark grey hot pants”

She: “checked shirt on display in the men’s section”

They met at the billing counter, he asked showing the checked shirt “yehi wala na?”[This one right?]

She: “YES!”

She: “tere hot pants bill kara diye hain” [I have billed the hot pants for you]

 

Little did the world know that in a small town of Nagpur, growing up were two siblings much like any other brother & sister but with their own little secret!

They grew up as any other siblings yet their choices were very different. She hated her pleated hair & he hated his checked school trousers. She liked wearing jeans & shirt, while he was fascinated by his mother’s lipstick collection. When it came to toys, they were happy to exchange. It was a fair trade of a Barbie doll for the racing car.

 

Rahul:

I knew I was different & realized that I am gay but what thrilled me even more is, there is someone else in the family who is also different.

As we grew up we never talked about it with each other. We studied in a coed school and we made our own set of friends. If not studying I’d mostly spend time either sketching and playing with my GI Joe figures or dressing up my sisters Barbie dolls with dresses made out of crepe paper and glitter. By the 9th grade I fell in love with boy who I befriended and long before we knew, we were dating. I would sneak him into the house in the middle of the night & my sister knew about it but she kept my secret.

One fine afternoon I walked past her bedroom’s ajar door to find her embraced in a cozy hug with her girlfriend. That day I learnt her little secret which stayed a secret much like mine with her.

Then on started a journey of two siblings who knew they were different from the world & same as each other.

I would help pass her love letter to her girlfriend & she would cover up for me if I was out late spending time with my boyfriend.

Whenever I had a heartbreak she would be the only one knowing what I am going through, and when she had a break up I was there for her.

Mohini:

I was in my 7th standard, while playing a truth & dare game this girl in my class gave a peck on my cheeks, and that created a flutter in my stomach. A girl kissed me & I liked it.

In my 10th class my secret crush said that I have a really long nose and she would like to rub her nose against mine. “Mann mein laddu phuta” [butterflies in my stomach] but I said no to her. She bet that she would do that within a week & that secretly thrilled me. Then that fine morning in the class when it was just the two of us, she came close face to face and rubbed her nose against mine; I was on cloud nine.

These little incidents affirmed my interest and my attraction to girls and it felt the most natural to me.

PC: Maddy

We used to come cross each other while going to school and exchange smiles. One fine day I was introduced to her through a common friend. We bonded as we started talking and this was the first time I realized that our feelings were mutual. It was lethal attraction. She frequented my home and we would spend the summer afternoons together, lost in love 🙂

But soon I realized that I was not the only one love-struck under this roof, my brother also had a “special” friend. While my girlfriend came home during the day, my brother would sneak his boyfriend in the night.

I was happy to know my brother is just like me.

Years passed and with each passing year our bond grew stronger, we knew about each other but we never talked about it. We both made our career choices, she moved to Singapore with her girlfriend and I moved to Bangalore exploring new opportunities and of course love. This was the time when we both were happily in love with our partners.

Rahul: I would visit her as often as I could. She was and still is the closest to me in our family. During my visits, I would feel the urge to talk to her about both us siblings being queer. It was time we acknowledged that we are different from most of the other siblings. I wanted to re-define our bond as siblings and acknowledge new reasons to belong and am glad I did.

We introduced our partners to each other and it was a liberating and overwhelming experience. We grew closer and re-bonded at a different level as modern queer family.

PC: Maddy

Our parents knew about us being queer and are very understanding and accepting although they took some time to adjust to our world. We both came out individually at our own pace.

While our mom being a hopeless romantic she had always believed that love conquers all. For a woman who eloped to get married to the love of her life, for her love has no gender.  Our Dad on the other end accepts us the way we are but keeps reminding us to be ready for the future where they won’t be around to us.

Are you okay with me being with a guy?

Anonymous

Delhi

I’m 19-years-old and I’m pansexual. I’ve known this for quite some years now, even though I didn’t know the proper term for it then. I’ve had my internal battles, still do sometimes, but I’ve come to accept myself for the most part. For me, gender doesn’t matter. If I like someone, then all that matters is how they are as a person and this is something I came to terms with pretty early.

It was when I was in 12th grade, about three years ago, that I decided to broach the topic with my mother. We are pretty tight, sharing almost everything with each other. So knowing her, I wasn’t expecting her reaction to be very extreme, but there was a little part of me that was uncertain about the outcome. I told her about a particular video I came across that day about parents disowning their child because he came out to them. I casually asked her right after, “What if your child was gay? What if I liked a girl? Would you be okay with it?” As casual as I tried to be, my palms were sweaty and my heart was beating a thousand miles an hour. She just looked at me for a couple of seemingly ever-lasting seconds and said, “Well, are you okay with me being with a guy? You shouldn’t have to ask if I am okay with it. As long as you are happy, be with whoever you want to be with. You are my baby girl. I love you for who you are, not for who you choose as your life partner.” I couldn’t have been more grateful.

As for my best friend, when I told her, all she said was, “I kinda knew it. More people for you to love, babe.

Even though I’m all about the drama, my coming out went through pretty drama-free.

 

 

I am an out-and -proud Mum!

Kalpana Rao

Bangalore

The first time I had a dialogue with a gay man was possibly in the mid-90’s.  He was quite a celebrity, having written books and been featured frequently on TV. On several occasions, he had more than mildly hinted at his orientation. During our conversation, I, quite naively, asked him why he primarily identified as homosexual, why not his nationality, his gender or even his career. His reply has stayed with me, decades later.

“I want to be known for what I am not allowed to be.”

Being Indian, being male or female, being a bureaucrat or a writer – society really doesn’t care. Try belonging to a minority, just try it for a day, he recommended. Not just any minority, but one that is actively disdained. Put yourself in the shoes of a trans-gender, for example– who is met with hate simply for existing.  Where in the main stream do you find them? Do you see them in schools and colleges, getting equal opportunities for education? Do you see them in health care units, being treated for coughs and colds, like anybody else? Are they employed in offices or any jobs, for that matter, where they are treated with dignity? When they are so negatively targeted, there will be push back and they will flaunt what you taunt – that is why their identity will be trans gender first and all else second.

When your family rejects you – for reasons as mundane as “what will people say” or as illogical as “you are going through a phase and want attention” or as isolating as “God will not forgive you and you are going to Hell” – the comfort of staying in the closet is as appealing as it is stultifying.

I am not an unusually sensitive person, nor am I intuitively kind. Practical as the day is long, I have cynically viewed the human condition without syrupy sentiment – deal with it, these are the cards you were handed.

Till I met a fabulous young person.

Intelligent. Wise beyond his years. Hard working. Inspiring. And lonely.

Sociable with a wide circle of friends, he stays firmly in the closet even though his friends love him so dearly. He contemplates a future with no partner, no children and depresses himself further. Isolated by a self- imposed silence, his coming out to me was, I think, more because I confronted him with what I could perceive. Over the decade of our friendship, I have watched him grow increasingly self-sufficient, not because he doesn’t need help, but fears becoming dependent on it.  He has introduced me to scores more of similarly closeted individuals – so many young people who should have been able to be cherished by their families, friends, and colleagues but who are bound by their fearful code of silence, to speak only in “safe” places.

I am so grateful for being at the receiving end of so much love and trust. My young friend has, over these years of friendship allowed me the joy of “motherhood”! I have no children of my own, but as I become a confidante and host to these many young souls who can come out to me with no fear and know that they will never be judged, I am now their adopted Mum!

Being there for them, when they need advice, or when they need to rant; to eat a home-cooked meal or to hold a hand, I am privileged to be the one they turn to.

I am not just an ally. I am an out-and -proud Mum!

This boy comes out every day!

Avinash Matta

Hyderabad

Image may contain: 1 person, beard

In the middle of a summer night, a ten year old boy,
whispered into his sister’s ears, a confession very shy!
“I think I am a homosexual. I like boys”, said he.
“Oh no! Stop thinking and it will go away”, assured she.

Ten years passed by but the boy couldn’t stop,
His sexuality was not a habit he could drop.
So he scribbled it on a paper and passed it down
to his colleague who couldn’t help but frown.
The paper soon transformed into a suicide note
and his parents were too frozen to even emote.
Melted tears and dreary dis approvals later,
they joined hands in a reverent prayer.
But even the Gods couldn’t help him change
and his parents gave it up as something strange.

As global warming melted the polar ice caps,
and queer themes became common on mobile apps,
the mother gradually warmed up to her son.
On Diwali, amidst much fanfare and fun,
she asked him if he had a boyfriend as such?
Not having faced luck with dating much,
the son replied with a gentle ‘not yet’
but the sky above turned a deep violet,
the stars and the moon shone with a celebration,
the sun of his sadness had set, crackers burst out in a constellation.
The wings of acceptance soared like a rocket,
love was in the corner, melting like dark chocolate.

But that’s not the end of this coming out story,
For this poet wants more than applause and glory,
And coming out is not an event but a process,
so many people who need to know, you can’t even guess!
Like yesterday, the boy came out to his boss
who congratulated his bravery with an applause.
Then, he confessed to his client over a cup of tea
“I always knew it”, she said with a twinkle of glee
Today, he came out to his trainer at the gym
who also came out to the poet on a whim.

And thus, the boy comes out every day
with a ryhming poem or any other way.
The Gods seem to be much kinder now
for the boy gets acceptance at every bow!

 

-Avinash Matta

My mom expressed her desire to see a Pride walk

Rohit Bairagi

To Parents:

Hyderabad, 2013

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

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

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

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

Image representational

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

At Work:

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

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