I came out to my teenage kids.

Sridhar Varadaraj

Teenage kids generally have a hard time coming out to their parents. I came out to my teenage kids.  I had come out to my parents almost 20 years earlier. My coming out story is a bit tortuous, not unlike those of many gay men of my generation.

Born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu at the very end of the flower power 60s, I had my sexual awakening in the early 80s as a teen. I was in an all-boys school and my first sexual experience was a blow job at my home from a classmate who clearly knew what he was doing. Initially I wrote it off as just serving my sexual needs with what I could get. But then we kept meeting at each other’s homes when our parents were out. We would sit so close next to each other in class on those old fashioned benches so that as much of our bodies could touch each other.  We even began to share items of clothing.

Don Johnson of ‘Miami Vice’ fame has the dubious honor of witnessing my first hand job orgasm from the cover of a magazine. It was the time when the world first started speaking of AIDS. I remember reading an article in Newsweek about the “gay epidemic” and being extremely worried if I was going to get it. Daytime fantasy was drawing pictures of naked muscle guys making out, while my dream was to marry a woman and have kids. Even then, I never thought of myself as a homosexual. But there was something bothering me in the back of my head.

So when I got the opportunity, I switched to a co-ed school after my 10th grade. I never talked to my parents about changing schools, I just announced it to them, when I got admitted. My dad was convinced I had moved schools for a girl. I was popular in high school both with the guys and the girls and I flirted with several of them. I was a topper in academics but that didn’t stop me from flirting with the younger lady teachers either.  I was always obsessed with the male body, especially a muscled one. I was convinced that the male body is the most beautiful thing on earth, perhaps I still am.  I would read everything about bodybuilding that I could lay my hands on. But in those days there were no proper gyms to go to. So I convinced my parents to buy me one of those pneumatic “Bull workers” and I trained in my bedroom.

Undergraduate Engineering College, PSG Tech in Coimbatore was when I started having proper girlfriends. These relationships filled my heart, but something still felt not quite right. One afternoon stands with guys continued. I’ve always been a romantic and sometimes I would fall madly in puppy love with some of them. One time, when I as in my final year of college, an hour of flirting lead to making love to a classmate of mine in his dorm room. He seemed completely into me and he spoke that evening about how we had lost all this time and how we could both have girlfriends as fronts, while we would be lovers. But the next morning at college he pretended that the previous night didn’t happen. This was the time I started to seriously question my sexuality but I still wasn’t sure. Isn’t a gay guy supposed to be effeminate and talk and walk funny? How could a masculine guy like me, be gay? And probably for that reason, my sexuality didn’t worry me. “Moi? I couldn’t be gay”.

Going to the US for Graduate school in 1991, clarified things. Philadelphia was reasonably gay friendly even then and the University of Pennsylvania which I went to had a very liberal air about it. It was still the pre internet days but gay erotica and movies which didn’t exist In India shaped my imagination and struck a chord. Even in those pre Grindr days, hook ups like in gym toilets weren’t hard to come by and with them I realized more and more that I definitely preferred guys to girls. After a year, I finally found the balls to attend an LGBT club meet in my university (thinking back I wonder what took me so long) which lead me to my first gay bar experience. I woke up in someone else’s bed the next morning. Suddenly I had a circle of supportive gay friends, an adopted family who accepted my gay side. Gay bar visits became twice a week. I felt liberated. 

And then I met my first boyfriend. He went to Law School and was the all American guy. I like men on the shorter side; I prefer their proportions. He was intelligent, articulate, funny and kind. It was love at first sight. We both lost the group of friends we came with and ended up at his home, which I never left for the next 9 months. He introduced me to his friends the next morning and I was immediately assimilated in. His parents lived in New England and they seemed to accept our relationship.

That’s when I decided to come out to my family. I started with my oldest brother, older by 9 years, but he just did not want to discuss it any further with me. When I visited India next, I told my mom and dad. They were obviously very surprised and totally ignorant of my “condition”, not knowing if it was just a phase or a permanent abnormality. But things never became dramatic like being asked to get out of the house. The only comment that is still etched into my skull was from my dad “You are going to be just passed on from man to man”. That disgusted me. I wasn’t the kind of guy who would be ‘passed on’. But I figured this is how most of the world would view a gay man – helpless, weak, and unmanly. None of which I could ever be, because nature had designed me to be confident, proud and even aggressive at times. At the end of that visit, when my parents came to see me off at the airport, my dad broke down. He truly believed it was probably the last time he would see me. He said he had one request: Not to live with my boyfriend in the same apartment. I couldn’t say no to him, seeing him in the state he was. 

When I went back to Philadelphia, I told my boyfriend I was moving out. He was understandably very upset. He told me he had been warned about this by his Asian girlfriend – that for an Asian, the family can be very influential and be a deciding factor in determining an individual’s course of action. He was doubtful about the future of our“ relationship and wanted to break up. I was angry at being judged and I didn’t do much to reconcile the relationship. It was a pity and I’ve always felt bad about walking out on him, especially given all that he’d done for me.

Being alone, I had time to think about things. I asked myself if I was going to be happy as an openly gay man. I wanted a “normal” life – get married (to a guy would be preferable), have kids, be a successful entrepreneur, go out in nature that I loved and ride my motorcycle. There were no successful gay role models in the early 90s, even in the western world. No Tim Cook, no Ricky Martin, no Gareth Thomas. Same sex marriage was almost unthinkable those days, even in the US.  I didn’t want to be a loser; I didn’t want to sacrifice my dreams just because of my sexuality. It didn’t seem worth it. I had no neutral person to advise me. So I decided to renounce that part of me and get married to a woman. A beautiful woman who I had known since Kindergarten.

While my now ex-wife and I had been friends for a long time, marriage never occurred to us until her parents suggested it. It took a little time for me to see it possible to think of her as a partner rather than as a friend. When I did decide to get married to her, I wanted it for life. I am a monogamous guy by nature and I like to put everything into the relationship with my partner. And that’s how our married life started in the US. We were best of friends and lovers. We couldn’t be separated. We did everything together for 15 years. Life was a dream. We moved back to India. Two beautiful and intelligent kids followed. A beautiful home. We were the perfect couple in the eyes of society. I couldn’t imagine a life without her. I had no extra marital affairs, no one fighters. I was a doting and faithful husband. It’s not that I never longed to make love to a man. I dreamed of licking that portion of a guy’s neck that is just below his buzzed hairline, my favorite part of a man’s body or get a beard burn from kissing him. I would speak about it to my ex but it was all fun and games and she took it very sportingly. I was honest with her always. She knew about my past pretty much from day one. I kept my mind busy with my work and my hobbies. My mountaineering and skiing sojourns. My marathons around the world. The Ironman. Life went from one goal (business and personal) to another. We both couldn’t have been happier.

Things suddenly changed in my late 30s. I was in Singapore in a mall. I saw this younger guy come down an escalator. He must have seen me looking at him. He caught up with me and told me he was a tourist and asked me if I could help him find a pharmacy. I knew this was a ruse. My gay street smartness may have been a little rusty, but I know a male to male call when I see one. And he was a handsome Latino. I have something for Latinos since my Philadelphia days. Their passion is juicy and free flowing. They know how to arouse me with just the way they touch me even if it was with the tip of their little finger. It’s like I can speak to them with my eyes and skin, even if I didn’t know a word of their language.  I invited him for a drink leading to a night together that made me feel like a new person. He had his flight the next day and we never saw each other again.

I am an outspokenly honest guy, and I told my ex (wife at that time) about the incident. Things between her and me went south from there. Not because I told her, but because the incident changed something in me. She could sense it in my physical relationship with her and this put stress on me in bed, throwing our relationship into a fast deteriorating cycle. After a couple of years, we asked ourselves if we were happy going about our lives like this. We had many years in front of us. We took time over coming to a decision and the decision was to go our own ways. To be honest, I never imagined a life outside of my marriage with her, even if I has sexual cravings outside of it. Neither did I intend on having affairs. Love goes beyond sex. What if I were married to a guy and all of a sudden he couldn’t have sex for some reason. Would I leave him for that? No, I wouldn’t. Would I have a sexual relationship with a third person? No, I wouldn’t. This is just how I’m wired. In other words, I wouldn’t have broken my marriage unilaterally. But when we both felt this was the way out, the path ahead was clear.

When we decided that our life from now was not meant to be together, we also set ourselves free to find other people. I met my partner and now fiance on a rainy November day in Madrid. And he being Latin, our eyes and skin spoke to each other from the first minute. We were very intensely physically attracted to each other and we spent a weekend of passion. Even though we both knew my flight was at the crack of dawn on Monday, we hoped that there would be more to us, than just a weekend of sex. I changed my travel plans and came back to see him. And that’s when the romance started. We found we wanted the same things in life, while at the same time our interests lay in different areas. He is an architect by qualification and very passionate and knowledgeable about music, literature and fashion, so much so that I feel like a country bumpkin when he starts talking about these subjects. In these five years we’ve never gotten bored of each other. I love to grow and evolve with time and see my partner do the same. And if the two people can accept and adopt to these changes as they continue to create memories together, it makes for an unbreakable partnership.

My ex-wife and I both felt that the only persons we needed to consider in our process of separation and be sensitive to were our kids. Definitely not society and not so much even our parents and siblings. We planned the timing of when best to tell our kids, making sure it didn’t affect their school lives. And so I came out to my kids in the presence of my then wife. The message literally was “I’m gay. Your mum and I are going to get divorced. And I have a boyfriend” . That’s like 3 bolts striking you out of the blue. And there’s no way to pad it. I just paused between each bolt, stupidly hoping a few seconds in-between could help. But the kids seemed to take it amazingly well. Luckily they were old enough and by then independent enough, having been in boarding school. It might not have affected their day to day life, as they lived in different countries but naturally one’s parents breaking up is definitely not a nice thing to happen to anyone. The only solace comes from the fact that it could be worse if the parents continued to live together and fight with each other every day, making home life a living hell. It’s not about if they will not be scarred either way, it’s about which wound is less deep. My daughter said she wanted to meet my boyfriend. My son asked me questions about him. And they both met him shortly after. I feel so blessed to have kids like them for accepting me unconditionally. It’s incredible, this new generation. I find myself learning values from my kids.

Next came our parents. My ex decided to tell her parents by herself and I met them a few days later. It was a huge jolt for them but they dealt with it a civilized way with no drama. There were no desperate attempts to try and keep us together like some parents would have. They seemed to know that it would be futile. But I could sense a need in them to ‘avenge’ their daughter. While things went fine with my ex at the time we planned our separation and divorce, I guess the gravity of what happened took a while to hit her. It turned out to be more painful and emotional than we thought it would.

I stopped being close to my parents from the time I came out to them in my early 20s. I didn’t keep them informed about everything. Just that we were separated. I only told them I was getting divorced on the day we filed for it. My first reaction from my mum was “I hope you are not going to marry your boyfriend”.  In the meantime, I had moved to Bangalore where I started my new Business, ZAGO an Urban Lifestyle Beverages Company and set up home with my boyfriend who would spend a couple of months with me at a time, living between Bangalore and Madrid.  After a few months my mother called me in Bangalore and said she felt bad about losing me and that as my mother her love for me is unconditional. She said “I love you and therefore I love your boyfriend too”. She met with him and they hit it off. She told him, “You know what. I like you. And I think you can take care of my difficult son”.  Ever since she’s been in touch with him. My 90 year old dad needed his own time. In the beginning it was “Why would I want to meet someone who destroyed our family”. And then it was “Sorry I was too harsh in my choice of words”. And finally it was “You know I really like how you’ve gone about things and I respect you for that”. My dad and I never hug. But I hugged him that day. And he hugged me back tighter.

One of my brothers on the other hand has been totally unaccepting “Well I know you are gay and stuff, but do you need to live with a guy” to “You are ruining your children’s lives”. My other brother seems a little more accepting and has visited me and my boyfriend’s home a few times. I have to say my coming out has had my family, my parents and my siblings taking a lot of shit from society. People would make caustic remarks. They stopped calling them. Stopped sending them New Year greetings that they had done for years. They lost a lot of ‘friends’ too. But they never took it out on me and I truly respect and admire them for that.

My boyfriend was born in Cuba. Most of his family moved to Miami. He decided he preferred Spain and moved there when he was in his early 20s. I was the first boyfriend he introduced to his parents. And today his whole family including his sisters, their husbands, the grand kids and the great grand kids (his sisters are much older to him!) accept the Indian as one of them in their very Cuban family.

Once I came out to my family, I only chose to tell a very few close friends of mine. I wanted it to just trickle down to the others in a gradual process through word of mouth and through my social media posts. Some of them couldn’t catch the not so subtle posts. One of them even asked me “So who is this guy who is there in so many of your posts as if he were your spouse!” But with my friends, it’s been overall positive. They are all mostly in their 40s and 30s. My school friends, my college mates, my Motorcycle buddies many of them have been accepting and several of them have told me how much they admire what I’ve done. I have more ‘true’ friends now than before, people who I know will be there for me through thick and thin. These new friendships or the old ones that have been rejuvenated since my coming out more than make up for all ‘fake’ ones that I lost. And I’m out at work too. It does help that it’s my own Company! The only people I feel let down by is the Coimbatore society most of whom to this day treat me like a social pariah.

I come from a privileged position in society with a certain economic independence. I feel thankful for my position as well as for the countless people who have fought for LGBT rights that allow me to lead the openly gay life I lead now. I want to give back in some way and this is an ongoing exercise. I used social media as a PR and communication tool. Firstly to come out to friends and acquaintances in a more efficient way and not to put them in an embarrassing position, not knowing how to react when I announce to them, my sexuality.   Secondly, to show them how gay people lead their lives and that they share the same challenges and joys like straight people. Thirdly to give other closeted gay people hope that there are viable options to living depressed or committing suicide. And lastly to communicate to the people back in Coimbatore that I did not ‘run away’ from their town and that I am a proud openly gay man, living life on my terms. Even if my posts help one person’s life, I would be satisfied.

As I write this, the Indian Supreme Court has ruled for decriminalizing “unnatural “sex in the IPC 377. I went about the whole day of 6th of September, 2018 with a lump in my throat. Like any life changing event, today’s Supreme Court verdict takes time to sink in. After years of being the subject of ignorance and ridicule, it’s gratifying to be not just given dignity but also compassion for what LGBT people in this country have gone through. When you have suffered long, you become numb but when a loving hand comforts you, you just breakdown. The Supreme Court has not just been a Bearer of Justice. It has been my mother, father, sibling and friend all rolled into one, by not just accepting me but even understanding my pain. The day my country accepted me (at least legally) was every bit as emotional as the day my mother accepted who I am.

One could wonder what this ruling does for the Urban Queer in India who has been going about her love life fairly unhindered. I think the legality that the Supreme Court’s ruling gives to the community also validates that we are not a bunch of perverted freaks with a mental disorder and the we deserve the same rights as other citizens. The ruling sends a strong message  to people like my brother who think it’s wrong for me to live with a guy, to my “friends” from Coimbatore and those of my parents’ who turned their backs on us, to Bollywood, to school bullies, to work colleagues, to the rural masses and even to our political parties. It has planted the seed of change in their heads that we hope will eventually reach their hearts as well. It has signaled that they need to update their “values”. I can now kiss my man at the airport and tell business colleagues what I did with him over the weekend (minus the naughty bits). And such “normalization” of our lives will hopefully help the society at large to understand us better.

The most important words that have influenced my life were those of my daughter’s Head Master at her High School Graduation. They have helped shape my life since. He said

“In life you will face situations occasionally where you have to choose between two paths. One will appear to be the easy path to follow and the other will seem to be the right path to take.  Always choose the right path because that’s eventually going to be the path to happiness.”

When I had an opportunity to choose which path to take in my early 20s, I took the easy path. But when I was given the opportunity again later in life, I decided to take the right path. I could have taken the easy path again and still been a sexually promiscuous and closeted ‘straight’ husband but I chose to take the right path and come out. 

My life though has been turned upside down, since.  It’s been harder, lacking the comforts and security I was used to, but I don’t miss them anymore. The sacrifices have been more than worth it. Many times I felt all alone on this transformational journey that’s almost taken a decade. Until a couple of years ago, things were often times very dark and depressing. There was no one I could talk too. My boyfriend who had spent most of his adult life in Spain was having his own issues dealing with India and its unique culture, for the time that he spent in the sub-continent. The geographic distance that was there between us at the other times was a test of the strength of our relationship. Depression and suicidal tendencies are common among gay people until they get comfortable about themselves and have a support group of friends and family around them. There have been several occasions when I felt that I was done with the world and perhaps even that the world would be a better place for my family without me. I did my research and figured out the best way to go. But I had a passionate dream of how I wanted to forge my new life and I wasn’t going to give up the struggle for this dream so easily. I took one day at a time, purged the negativity from my system and just focused on my dream. My boyfriend and I stood for each other through thick and thin throughout the whole process of transforming our lives. He accepted the baggage I came with. I couldn’t have made it without him. And I knew I was taking the right path, however hard it seemed.

Today, I can sleep well with a clean conscience, holding my man. There is no better luxury in life than a good night’s sleep.

 

I am just the way he made me

 

My name is Ankit. I am a gay man, 25 years old living in Mumbai. I work for an educational institute “VIDYA” which works for under privileged children in urban slum communities.

I realized I was attracted to the same gender in my early teens but did not know what it actually meant or that it is actually a sexual orientation or that there is a community of LGBT people. As a fact I did not even know the difference between the male and female anatomy until I was in my 10th Grade.

During my summer holidays post 10th grade a few of my cousins were visiting us and one fine evening we were hanging out and I noticed a girl child peeing. I was confused and I questioned my cousin, why is it that she is squatting while peeing? We boys do it differently. Laughing out loud my cousins remarked that you are so silly and explained the difference to me. They also teased me that now that I know I would be more inclined to know a girl better perhaps start having attraction towards them.

The very next day I went back to my cousin and said whatever you explained to me yesterday is so true but somehow am not attracted to girls. I find myself attracted to boys. My cousins failed to understand me and mocked that I would always be a kid. I guess that was my very first coming out.

Years passed and it was in college when internet came to my rescue and gave me access to the information I needed. I googled about being gay and that there are others like me. I started searching for ways to find other people like me and chanced upon gaydia.com and it was such an overwhelming discovery. All this while I was caught up with various emotions and found it challenging to come to terms with my sexuality. I was even suicidal under depression as I kept worrying that there is something wrong with me that may be I am a eunuch (Hijra) and what a stigma this news would be to my parents and they may not accept me.

When I found gaydia.com my life changed. I came across so many other queer folks and through them I learnt a lot about LGBT community, our community! I got to know about Pride March in our country, through an organization named GayBombay.

In 2008 I attended my first GayBombay event which was a parent’s meet. The experience of this event was quite liberating. I got to know and meet parents/family of other queer folks and it gave me hope and confidence. The Pride March also liberated me in many ways, most importantly self-acceptance and that there is nothing wrong in being gay and that Pride March is a way we come out and celebrate being Queer. It has been quite a journey since then and today I am one of the organizers of Mumbai Gay Pride. I continued my journey with queer groups like GayBombay, Humsafar Trust etc. and actively engaged into activism and so far it’s been a great journey.

While at home my family knows about me being queer but I have never had the chance to sit down with them and come out to them in person. For my parents ignorance is bliss for now.

In 2013 when Supreme Court re-criminalized homosexuality as per section 377, I was interviewed by Zee news and was part of a debate. I guess that was my official coming out to the whole world through the medium of a television interview.

Later that evening I was in a discussion with Mr. Pallav Patankar (Program Head – Humsafar Trust) about how can we bring in the change in society. He said the interviews that you gave throughout the day is one way but is not the absolute or accurate way. If we want to bring change in the society we need to reach out to masses directly.

This triggered a new emotion in my and when I was returning home with a friend of mine that evening I felt the urge to at least take one step in the direction to bring that change. I stood up in a local train coach full of every day commuters and started a dialogue in Hindi – “Main ek samalaingik hu! Aaj Supreme court ne mere adhikar cheen liye hai” (I am a homosexual man and today my rights have been taken away from me). I got mixed responses, some people ignored me, some argued and questioned and some nodded in acceptance. While I realized it was a risk taken the greater learning was that when a group of people notice/experience something they talk/share the news. I realized that within that moment I was spreading the information to people from different walks of life, I was indirectly educating them that homosexuality is not an American concept and that even in that very coach in which so many Indians commute every day, anybody could a homosexual. That evening I mustered the courage to speak publicly and learnt that people need to learn more about us before they accept us.

I had found my inner calling and my purpose. I resigned from my job and visited Valsad in the state of Gujrat and held my very first public talk about homosexuality and LGBT people and my journey continues till today with over 500 public talks.

To talk more about my experience giving these talks I learnt tier 3 cities/smaller towns are more receptive to such talks/discussions than tier 2 & 1. I have had both good and bad experiences. I was also jailed when I boarded a passenger train from Jhunagargh to Somnath to hold one such talk. I was released with a warning to not repeat the act in passenger trains without permissions; that too speaking against Supreme Court. Being bullied was also part of this journey and one such incident to recall was when I was visiting a small town a little further from Bikaner and was staying in a budget guesthouse. I was bullied by a few men there who somehow noticed that I am gay and was eve teased by a group of men. The came down to the guesthouse & started making vulgar comments “aajao teri pyaas bujhata hun, mard chahiye tujhe” [You like men, come let us quench your thirst]. I was scared to death, I sat in the farthest corner of the room praying for this to pass away.  I was petrified to even move & somehow dozed off sitting there. This incident did scare me but I never gave up, I believed in my role as an activist and that people in India must be educated about our community and rights.

Personally, I am quite rooted to my culture and my religion. I believe in Hinduism and especially in Vaishnavism. I also read a lot but somehow I could never find any story speak of homosexuality but what I noticed is Hinduism never discriminated against anything or anybody in particularly. I find my strength is Krishna, I am just the way he made me!

 

I gradually accepted myself

“Chaaka hai Kya.”?

“Third Gender hai Tu to”

“Muh Meh LeLe”

“Tere  Boobs Hai.”

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

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

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

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

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

I gradually accepted myself as who I am.

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

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

Born Gay Proud to be what I m.!

#abvian

I am deaf, gay and proud!

Anonymous

I was born as a child who could hear perfectly. When I was an infant, I had high fever that damaged the inner ear so I became profound deaf. My parents did not give up hope. They encouraged me to be like any other child, communicating with the world where we live. My mother found a good school in Bombay where they teach deaf children through lip reading and provide speech therapy . I shifted to Mumbai for the same and started living  my maternal grandparents. It was very heart wrenching for them to part with me especially at young age. I was just 2 years of age when I moved to Mumbai. My aaji (grandmother ) left her job and took care of me with love. My grandparents pampered me, loved me, disciplined me. They taught me the value of culture, tradition and life. I am so lucky to have such grandparents.

Being deaf was hard for me. I had to face the society everyday but was lucky that I had a lot of friends who could hear and acted like my interpreter. During 80’s and 90’s, when I grew up, there were no english subtitles on TV at all – nowadays, it is there only on English movies. My mother never lost hope, she always would interpret for me in the theatre and I would understand using lip reading. At that time, I never learnt sign language. So we all used to communicate using lip reading yet there were times, I felt left out – I could not understand what was being said. Though I did not blame my family, relatives. It was unfair to expect them to look at my face, all the time for lip reading. That I understand but yet I was angry. I did not like to miss out.

During school and college, my parents always paid for a private tutor and they taught me one to one. Hence I was totally focused on my studies. My father often pushes me to communicate or talk to bus conductor, hawkers, to anyone in public! Most of the time, they did not understand and laughed at me for my funny voice. I was very embarrassed and very angry at my father for not rescuing me. But now I understood why he did, he did so on purpose to boost my ability, confidence to face anyone anywhere. For that I am very grateful to father as well as my mother.

I always knew that I am gay as long as I remember. I thought it was abnormal to stare at men. I wanted to confide to someone but being deaf it was not easy. I came to know about GayBombay meeting online. At first, I was scared to go there to meet strangers. There is always a communication barrier. I really could not ask any of my hearing straight friends to join me.. no way! One day, I gathered some courage and went to meeting in Bandra, Bombay where I met Ashok Ravi, Dr. Ramchandra, Umang Seth etc. Suddenly I felt so comfortable to be in the group. They did not seem bothered with the fact that I was deaf. I started talking to them and surprisingly they understood what I said. I was really happy. Then there was this guy who said that my smile was beautiful. That compliment made my day. I was on cloud nine. I was happy being gay and realized that I was like anyone else.
Yet, I could not reveal my identity to my parents or anyone in family. I was very scared. I left India and went to Canada to pursue Chef training where I was exposed to gay culture there. It was beautiful. I could not believe that they had gay bar, gay disco etc. Also I met so many queer people with disability that changed my life and I felt the confidence to tell my parents.
It was also during that time that my parents asked me to get married. I refused a few times but I started feeling pressurized.  So I decided to come out of closet. I came to India to talk to them.  My maushi  (aunty) recieved me at the airport. While going to her house, she said that she has come to know about me. I was taken aback and asked what did she mean.  She said that she knew that I was gay a long time ago and it was okay. I cried and hugged her tight. Then she suggested that I should not tell my mother about being gay as it may not be easy for her.

However, I did not feel like holding myself and came to Kerala to confront mother and sister. When I told them, my mother was really shocked and cried while my sister calmly supported me. My mother shouted me and asked me to promise that I would not tell my father as it might kill him with shock. I heeded and kept my promise. My mother was not ready to accept me so I went back to Canada and we both did not talk for two years. Meanwhile, she emailed me asking me not to come to near my nephew. I was furious and I blasted her that told her not to consider me as her son. That left her shocked. After a few months, my mother apologized for what she had done.  I told her that I still loved her and she said that she said that she still  loves me a lot. Much more than before!!!! She accepted me for who I am! But sadly, my father does not know about me and one day I hope to tell him.

Today, I am very proud that I am deaf and gay. I always look out for people who are similar to me. I tend to give them confidence and tell them my story. I do not want them to follow my path exactly but hope that my story gives them confidence to go beyond their boundaries.

 

Reblogged from : https://disabilitydiariesblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/taking-pride-deaf-and-gay/

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?

I’m not letting this guy take you away from me

Anonymous

Life had been easy otherwise except for this. Every LGBT person goes through it, called the self-acceptance phase. For me, it came too early, but I waited for very very long to decide if I’m ready to put this acceptance to test, with my close ones. Once I was done deciding, it became the easiest thing on Earth. Why? Because, I realized that what I want is impossible; come on! you can’t expect universal acceptance. Whatever you do, you cannot please everyone. Same goes for coming out. I knew not everyone will take it in a good way, but I was in for a surprise.

I knew I’m into guys since I started to have feelings. Still the first time I came out to someone was when I was 20 years old. The journey of a 1000 miles can be covered in one step if one realizes that it’s not unnatural to be attracted to the same sex and its Ok to be bisexual. Took me a lot of courage to come out to someone. It was this random conversation with my group of friends where I dropped a bomb by saying that “when I like someone, their gender isn’t important to me”. Naturally they were full of questions “this can be cured, try thinking ‘straight’ for sometime”, and “are you sure? you might be overthinking” it just tells there’s some explaining to do (of course you’ve to be sure first). I answered all their questions they came and that was how I came out to my friends.

 

 

Guess if someone loves you, it should be unconditional. Else coming out is a good friendship test 😉

 

 

 
This was easy. The difficult part was coming out to my sister (still not out to my parents). I was going out on a date with my boyfriend and my sister asked me how this guy I recently met had become so important to me. I told her that it’s not just some guy, it’s MY guy. She gave a look of utter shock, but then said, ‘I’m not letting this guy take you away from me’.🙈 She has been a great support since, and will help me when I am ready to come out to my parents.

 

 

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.

You sure about being gay, right?

Introduction:
Mr Bildungsroman
30/Male/Gay/Single
While I’ve known that I’m gay for the longest time, I have, like many gay men in India,  gone through my fair share of  – self-doubt, fervent prayers that I wake up straight, self-loathing, self-conversion, having girl-friends, heart aches, trying to fit myself into the ‘Straight-acting’ macho-culture mode, been a ‘loner’, being in denial, avoiding, etc, of being ‘gay’.
Tintin – Best friend of over 20 years.. Came ‘Out’ to him a coupla weeks ago.. Listener / Reader /  Insightful / Car Lover / Perceptive.. He is happily married to Bangles, his wonderful wife..
——————————————————————————————————————
Backstory: A week after I came ‘OUT’ to Tintin, we had a conversation as follows.

Tintin: Did we really have that conversation or was I dreaming?
Mr Bildungsroman: What about?
Tintin: The conversation we had by the seashore..
Mr Bildungsroman: Yeah we did have the conversation,why would you be dreaming about it?

Tintin: Just checking
Mr Bildungsroman: HahaTintin:Being honest, its gonna take a bit to sink in
Mr Bildungsroman: Haha.. Don’t worry Tintin.. You have a gay best friend alright 🙂
Tintin: Have to ask this question as it seems mandatory. No more after that, and it becomes something that is just stated
Mr Bildungsroman: Go ahead
Tintin: You sure about being gay, right?
Mr Bildungsroman:  Absolutely sure.. This is not a passing phase..
Tintin: Ok Good.. That’s settled, then..
Tintin: I got a guy best friend
Tintin: I mean, I got a gay best friend.. This stupid auto-correct
Tintin: Hmmm.. Seems cool thing to say
Mr Bildungsroman: Haha.. Yeah, I am always happy to have dialogue.
Mr Bildungsroman: Its funny, many people when you first tell them, begin to freeze (despite knowing you for a long time); and  don’t know what to talk to you thereafter..
Tintin: Well, its a topic where people wouldn’t know what to say
Mr Bildungsroman: Like, death? 🙂
Tintin: That’s strong.. But, yes
Mr Bildungsroman:  True.. I understand that people want to show support discreetly, but don’t know how to..
Tintin: Sometimes, it’s fair enough.. cause, the person whose life we’re talking about might want to keep it discreet..
Mr Bildungsroman: True that.. But don’t act to the point that it doesn’t exist !!
Tintin: But I find it hard to figure out how one can support discreetly.. Either you support, or you don’t..
Tintin: and if someone’s trying to support, but not show support..  then probably, deep within they don’t/aren’t ready to support yet
Mr Bildungsroman: Many gay men are discreet about their sexuality, but they seek the support of their loved ones always
Tintin: Support should be given unconditionally and without a doubt.. Cause, if you’re family and close friends ain’t gonna give support, then who will?
Tintin: I agree you can’t ask your loved ones to fight for you.. But atleast, they shouldn’t be the ones you also have to fight with!!
Mr Bildungsroman: Hmmmm.. Very true

Tintin: You know, I was just having this conversation with Bangles this afternoon about what you were telling me the other day.. I was explaining to Bangles about the difference between gays, transgender, and other alternate sexualities..
Tintin: I realized how strongly I felt defensive about it.. Its probably when you have someone close to you that’s of alternate sexuality, that you begin to start feeling strongly about it..
Tintin: Although, I think, ‘gay’, is probably the limit that I could deal with (at the moment). Anything beyond will take a lot!!
Mr Bildungsroman: Yes, awareness is the need of the day.

_______________________________________________________________________

It was so refreshing to hear that from my oldest best friend.. Good to feel blessed.. Gratitude !!

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.

I knew it since I was 14

Anonymous

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A week had passed since I moved back to India after living in USA for about two years.

I am 30 and single so like all Indian parents mine too were looking for a suitable bride for me.

Unlike every other person who feels excited and elevated whenever their families discuss a prospect with them, it gave me cold feet. I never even looked at the pictures that my parents showed to me, I just told them “You better know”. This has been going on from 3 years and I used my stay in USA as an escape from all this.

My trip to USA made me comfortable about my sexuality. Being gay isn’t a taboo there, people discuss about it openly. Of course there is a prejudice in USA too but the best part is law protects homosexuals unlike India’s Draconian 377.

It was a Saturday 10 April 2016, my parents had arranged a meeting with a girl’s family. My mother was cleaning the house from morning. She had changed the bed sheets, sofa covers, dusted the entire house, a regular drill that we did whenever she invited someone over house to meet me. There was a storm in my mind, I was fighting with myself about telling them the truth but I wasn’t able to gather the courage to do so. It was 04:00 in the evening and we were expecting them at 05;00. I was sitting on my couch and was so depressed about it. My face was all pale and my mother asked me “Is everything alright?”.

I said “No”.

She asked me “What is bothering you?”

My parents were sitting in front of me and I looked at their faces, the dream every parent has about getting their children married and seeing them start their family, I was about to shatter it. But  decided that it is high time that I do it and it’s the right thing to do.

I told my mother, “Have you heard of a man marrying a man?”. She said “Yes, they are crazy people and I don’t know how do they do it.” I said ,”Mummy, I am one of those”. Both my parents were taken aback. There was a dead silence in the room. My father shouted at me, “Are you an idiot? Are you impotent? If you are having problem in having sex let’s take you to a doctor and get you treated. Those homos (fags) ruin their lives. They cannot be with one person and they die alone and in misery. I cannot let that happen to you”. My mother asked me “Did you marry someone in USA?”, I laughed and said “No”. My mother asked me “How do I know that I am gay?”. I told her “We all know that. I knew it since I was 14”. She asked me “Why didn’t you tell us this. We would have helped”. I said “Mummy, it isn’t easy to accept the fact that you are different from others, it is a journey that takes its own course”.

My father was screaming in the background “You are just confused and since you have been a virgin all this time you started having sex with men. It is just a phase, get married and have your family and forget about this part”.

He told me about his friend who told him that he was gay but then he got married because of family pressure and everything is alright, he has kids. I should get married too.

I told him I can show him so many married gay men desperate to have sex with a guy. They are frustrated in their lives and they aren’t happy with their wives as they always are on Grindr or PR looking for next guy. I told them, I can’t live like this and cheat on my wife or partner. But all in vain.

But he wasn’t ready to listen, my mother was worried and pale. My father was breathing heavy and I had to calm him down, I told him to relax and talk about it.

I tried to understand their concern, I explained to them that I am financially doing good, I don’t have any addiction or any bad habit so why do they think that just by not marrying a girl how would I ruin my life. But all my efforts were useless, I could see fear, disgust and anger on their faces.

My father still thinks that I am impotent and that’s the reason I like men, my mother she is worried rather than being judgmental.

They are still trying to get me married to a girl.