My mom expressed her desire to see a Pride walk

Rohit Bairagi

To Parents:

Hyderabad, 2013

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

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

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

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

Image representational

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

At Work:

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

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

 

sharmaji ka ladka gay hai!

Uday Sharma

From: Delhi/Shimla

Currently: Bangalore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So rules were laid-

1) Don’t bring guys home,

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

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

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

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

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

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.

I am not leaving you, but just wished you had a better life

Rajib Das,

Hyderabad

Finally did it!

There is nothing in this world that is impossible. Just a little courage and push from within to do the things just when you want them can get you where you want to be. So, this is how the conversation started while we were at the dinner table with half of the food left to be eaten in our plates:

Me: Mom, I have something to tell you…

Mom: কি বিষয় (with curiosity, what is it)?

Me: Mom, I do not want you to talk about me getting married to a girl to anyone.

Mom: কেন (with a weird look, Why)?

Me: mom, I am not attracted to girls and I like boys, আমি সমকামি…(I am Gay). (There it was, I said it as soon as we started talking so that I could answer her questions which obviously would follow after this blast.)

Mom: আমি জানতাম (I Knew), My heart signaled this a few weeks ago, and I was expecting something of this sort to come from you! So this is the way you want to destroy your life?

Me: Getting married to a girl will destroy not only my life, but the girl’s life as well. If you want to get me married forcefully, then that will end up nowhere but a depressed life and divorce.

Mom: If that is the case, then you don’t have to get married ever. If you cannot get married to a “নারী” (nari[women]) then you cannot marry a “পুরুষ” (purush [Man])- period. That’s it!! একা থাক (Live alone).

Me: But I don’t want to live without a marriage. I like boys and want to get married to a guy! (At this point I quoted a previous conversation where she said “You need to marry and have children, so that there is someone to look after you when you are old.”)

Mom: অসম্ভব (Impossible)! It cannot happen, how will two guys look after each other when both are old? How about our বংশ (family generation) – how will it grow with two guys?

Me: Just like how a man and woman looks after each other AND we can always adopt! 🙂

Mom: (with anger) No, this will simply not happen. You have to marry a girl; else, no marriage for you!!

Me: Not possible! If I fall in love with a boy, I would want to live and raise a family with him in the long run.

Mom: (emotionally) আমার সমস্ত জীবন একা (I lived my entire life almost alone ever since I was born), your father died at an early age, you were the only hope and now you are also doing these things… আমার সুখ নেই (I have no happiness).

Me: I am there for you and I need you to be there for me. You are my strength, and if you reject me, then I have nowhere to go…
Mom: I am not leaving you, but just wished you had a better life. So, who is this guy who calls you all the time?
Me: He is my friend and he likes talking to me 🙂

Mom: নাম কি (What’s his name)? What does he do? Where does he live? Did he ask you to speak to me about all this?

Me: His name is *********, and he is ****** by profession. He already has a boyfriend and he did not ask me to talk to you about this. I have been trying to talk to you about this for the last few weeks, but could not bring myself to have this conversation, as I was afraid…

Mom: Afraid of what? Why didn’t you tell me when I was trying to get you married last year? Why this sudden change now?

Me: I did not change. I was just scared to tell you as I was afraid I would lose you 😦

Mom: (with pride) আমি নারী, কিন্তু দুর্বল না | (I am woman, but not weak). I did everything on my own and raised you after your Dad. Why would you lose me?

Me: I know your anger and thought you would kill or disown me and harm or kill yourself after you get to know about it.

Mom: কখনত্ত নহে (Never), why would I kill the one I gave birth to and why on earth would I kill myself? I will die naturally, প্রভু ইচ্ছা (when God wills).

Me: I love you Mom. Thank you so much for accepting me for who I am!

Mom: Who said I accepted you??? I would still want you to get married to a girl.

Me: Again the same thing, mom? I cannot. There have been many instances of people getting married due to the pressure from their parents and society and these marriages ended nowhere but separation, depression, court cases and an unhappy life.

Mom: Ok, সুখী থাক জীবত্কাল (I wish for a happy life for you). Do whatever you want to…

And then I went on to explain many things to her about being queer. I also explained to her the meaning of ‘Wajood’ (name of the new LGBT group in Hyderabad, translates as ‘Identity’).

Rajib.jpg

Pic: Rajib & his mom

Now she is sleeping right beside me as she has been for the last few months and is speaking normally. I hope she will come around in the long run and accept me for who I am.