I had come out to the world but I hadn’t come out to my family.

Tanzeel Ahmad

Many have experienced this and there will be many who plan on doing so. Just waiting for the right moment or the right amount of courage they wish they will have in future. Not a particularly pleasant experience like your first car or first kiss but people do it to be true to people around them. To be accepted for who they are or that’s at least what the aim is…

This one goes back to the time of my school days. I never really knew how to acknowledge or describe this feeling that feeling that was in me since what seemed to be forever because right from the beginning I was fed strictly heteronormative ideals of the society. Throughout my childhood I grew without having these feelings fit into any category or name. I could not discuss them with anyone and as I grew older I could neither fit myself into these feelings nor the heteronormative society I was a part of.

There used to be a time when I was in love and peace. The peace one has when they are in the comfort of their home. I was happy and I was loved. But it did not fade away with time. It was stripped of from me in a turning point of my life and it felt like I was in a state of mental and emotional coma. I could see, hear and touch the world but there was a disconnect between the feelings. All I could do in this hollow body was see, hear and touch. I could not feel. I could only feel that I was hurt. As time passed it got harder. I had lost myself to the tides of time once again, worse than ever but I learnt a lesson. I got up and set my goals to get my own place, to get a job and be independent.

My struggle for coming out was not that easy. It all started almost 4 years ago when I anchored a show that was organized to facilitate transgender rights. It was a big event with extensive media coverage and I was not at all upset about my photos being published in the newspaper. Till that time I had explored my sexuality and gender and was quite comfortable with it. I had come out to the world but I hadn’t come out to my family. Now that I was featured in the newspaper as a part of the community. I was presented with a last opportunity to tell my family the truth and come out to them or they would get to know it anyway. I was scared and nervous but these fears weighed nothing against the fact that my family would feel betrayed if I hadn’t confessed to them this time. It was not even a situation ‘do or die’ but rather a situation ‘do and die’ especially when you are raised in a conservative Islamic family. My parents actively confronted me. I was heavily scolded, not allowed to step out of the house and even my mobile phone was confiscated. They thought that this was the result of some supernatural superstitious powers

My mother on the advice of a fakir baba compelled me to watch burning diyas in evening for 40 days. The fakir assured my family that I will be ‘back to ‘normal’ and get attracted towards women. I was just 19 at the time. In the beginning my mother used to sit beside me to ensure that I did not get distracted. For almost a week she was regular but then I think she got bored and stop accompanying me… Or if she had something else in the mind? I don’t know. I was left by myself.  Unlike the light of the Diya that illuminated the fading dusk, the light within me struggled to survive.  It was a harsh time. My parents compelled me to do so. After 40 days my parents thought that I was ‘back to normal‘. I was the one who suffered through it and nodded yes to their question of being heteronormative.

Being gay in a conservative Muslim family, Acceptance doesn’t come with ease… Time passed by and this event was virtually forgotten in the sands of time. This continued for almost an year. I was living my life in the closet. Then one fine day as I was scrolling through my FB profile and came across this post related to Delhi pride. I participated and wore a woman’s attire. The next day again my pictures were published by newspaper. Being dressed up like that didn’t mean I was a cross dresser or transgender but it was to break the stereotype that clothing defines our gender and that living in a democratic country we have the right to choice!

My family was outraged seeing my photos in pride events again and forced me to consult a clinical psychiatrist. During my sessions the psychiatrist told me to watch straight porn. I followed up her advice and during the follow up sessions told her how much I enjoyed watching men in those videos. She ignored my words and tried other tricks but nothing happened. After almost six sessions she called up my father and told him that I can’t be ‘cured‘. My father said nothing.

3 months later I graduated. My mother used to keep an eye on me that I didn’t spend too much time with any particular person of the same sex. They thought that I was gay because I had a homosexual friend circle. They planned to keep me away from it all and ‘convert’ me into a heterosexual man so they sent me to Dubai just so that I could get separated from my friend circle. I almost stayed for 6 months over there torn away from my friends, family and from myself. I also had to discontinue my academics too. Then one day I finally decided to take a stand for myself and return back to India. I took refuge in my relative’s home. Meeting again the people from my community and my friends felt like I was now a bird once again set free. As long as I was with them these 6 months of being caged didn’t matter anymore. Having passed this ‘test’ I felt more confident about my sexuality.

Today I am an active member of Lucknow queer committee and whenever I get a platform to convey my feelings, I speak my heart out because it is the time when I get to show the world what I have been through and how I have grown over it rather than listening to all the world had to say about me that needs to be changed. It is the blessed time when I get to open up all those feelings and experiences that have been bottled up for all these years. Sometimes people would accuse me that I did all this to seek attention. To them I say that I did it for myself. I did it because I cannot live a closeted life in fear of being uncovered. I did it for people out there who might have faced or might be facing what I have faced and how I grew up to be immune to that gibberish and set my true priorities. I want to reach out to all of them and tell them that they shouldn’t spend their life thinking they are a shame, not even a slightest bit.

 

After Coming Out to some, people tried to pull me down and criticized my decision. They told me my life would be ruined in the society and all that shit. However I thought that they deserved to know the real me because they had and have that important place in my life. Though I just don’t understand why our orthodox neighbors and relatives are so much concerned about personal things like these and they spread the word like wild fire. Things started getting into a MAELSTROM, all my fears like losing the people closest to me, not independent enough to earn my living were becoming true. Exactly the opposite had happened. Because I could not come out to people before the orthodox society did my orientation was kept above whatever else I had achieved in my life and people failed to understand the real me.

Today when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a person who has been living a life of secrecy. I see the real me,  I see someone who was drowned neck deep in shit but managed to pull himself out with his determination, love and support from friends and family. There are little pieces of shit which get stuck onto me here and there but I do what everyone else does wipe it off without thinking much about it. The best thing one can be is being true to themselves. Till you don’t do that forget changing anything else majority. * CHANGE STARTS FROM WITHIN* self-acceptance is very important because if you hide your real you it will develop into something very dark. Something which can later whip itself out and destroy you from within. Cutting yourself with blade or indulging in substance abuse are not the only form of self-harm. JUST BE STRONG!! BE TRUE TO YOURSELF!! Till you don’t do that forget changing the whole world!

Everyone is special in his own way. Some of you embraced your true self being and are vocal about it to world. I still remember my coming out in my college, a friend asked me, you never told you are from third gender? WELL this is not to offend anyone but the awareness on LGBTQ+ people is so less in INDIA that anyone might get confused with the LGBTQ+ community. Just don’t lose your temper it’s not their fault take deep breath and do collect more information for them for the next time.

For them who think IT’S JUST A PHASE? well it is human psychology that whenever you breaks some bad news to a person the initial reaction will be “denial” well just if some of you don’t know WHO( world health org) has removed the homosexuality as an illness almost 30 years ago.

One of the most asked Question, “How will you face the society” for them I would say THANKS FOR CONCERN!! I know what I have faced so far, I know how I was ridiculed and mocked in school for being effeminate. It doesn’t matter to anyone anymore

 

I would also like to add about my reconciliation of my faith with my religion too? I am very clear on my religion…

I believe in Allah and I also believe that only Allah has a right to judge me.

Homosexuality is sin in Islam but there are other things too. People feel that being GAY is being an atheist, they might not follow their practices and gain accomplishment in their duties.… But it’s not like that what I believe because of this homophobic attitude like this that because suffering to innocent gay people. It is anti-Islamic but it will also lead to such injustice to those people who wish to pray and perform their daily rituals give charity and feed poor but cannot physically bring themselves to be with opposite sex. No doubt religion is a big part of my life.

If I see now, well I do talk to my family… I continued to actively participate in all queer events be it queer prides, queer flash mobs or queer film fests. All of these events were covered by the media and my photos were prominently featured in dailies and on various websites. My family still hasn’t warmed up to the fact that I am gay and continues to remain distant about my sexuality. But I am okay with that- I want to give them some more time to come to terms with my sexual orientation. There is hush hush around my sexuality. Luckily my siblings are very supportive. They have met with my friends and are quite comfortable with them my parents not talking about it which is understandable. I want to give them some more time.  And I am sure that there will come a day when they will accept me for who I am. Time heals everything and I am a great believer of that. “And I am sure that there will be a day when they will say – We still love you for who you ARE

 

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

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.