Narnia

Let me tell you a story, A story about a person. Meghana was born on 7th of May 1999. Happy and healthy,they weren’t prepared for the world ahead. At the age of 15, Meghana felt a very different set of emotions for a senior, a beautiful girl this senior was. Meghana then realised that something is different. This was not in the biology books, this was not something their parents spoke about. Now you see there are two parts of this story. Let me tell you my story.

My definition of attraction changed when I met her, she was beautiful and fabulous and I was always found speechless in her presence. Now this feeling I had, I was never exposed to. I took about 6 months to accept myself and then I did. Now accepting is only the beginning. I started to learn, I had an intimate relationship with learning and exploring. I explored my sexuality, learnt and understood that I’m not alone and I have my lovely community. The first person I confided in was my friend and she seemed okay but months later my messages took rounds and I was devastated as from my small town, I could only think of the humiliation I would face. I went to length and bounds to talk to the people and I was outed to complete strangers. That’s when depression hit, I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore.

A few months later I got my acceptance letter and flew away to a university in another country and I felt freedom, I learnt more about myself and I dated the first girl, I dated her and loved her, well that was my perception of love at the time. Time passed by! I came down to visit my family, so I flew back but I was still in love with my girl. I felt lovely when she was around and one day I got a call at a very odd hour telling me that my girlfriend, took her own life. I wanted to know why. It was cuz her parents didn’t accept her sexuality. All the confidence I had to come out to my parents? Gone. Just like the wind. After a month of just silence and anxiety. I sat my dad down, we decided to watch all the Narnia movies. I then turned to him and said, you see all the adventure, happiness and love that they get in the closet, I only wish they could bring it outside the closet. That was the first step.

You see I come from a very orthodox family who doesn’t really believe in love to begin with, but my parents were gems. I once wrote a mail down to my dad, “Good Evening Papa. I have to tell you something. I’ve been keeping it a secret for too long. I’m pansexual. I’m more attracted to girl and I’ve had a girlfriend in the past. Please don’t tell this to Amma, she’s not ready to hear this. Remember Narnia, I want to bring out the happiness and adventures outside the closet. I’m sorry, please accept me. I love you unconditionally.” My heart skipped a beat when I sent him this mail, I was scared. I sat on the floor crying, praying that he doesn’t ask me to pack my bags.

Now you see with my mom, she still doesn’t accept it but she doesn’t say anything against it. I sat her down and just said it, she walked away into the room. She cried and didn’t talk to me for days. She was disgusted when I smiled at her but now she has come to terms with it. She loves me unconditionally no matter what. Now let’s come to the part where I came out to everybody I knew, Instagram was the best way. I added the words pansexual to by bio and I put up a story, which was it. My direct messages were flooded and I got a lot of support initially but most of the other messages were just that the person was lost and he/she didn’t know what it means. Now in the meantime of all this I knew from the time I could understand the word he and she, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the facts that I had to be labelled. Now I was confused if I was genderfluid or didn’t like being specified into a gender. Then I realised that I got irritated the moment someone said she or he and then I realised, now this was hard explaining to my family but my cousins and everyone who loves me dearly respect my pronouns. Back to Instagram, I updated it as Agender pansexual, now I thought it would be support or just being lost but this was the first time I got a death threat in the mail, then multiple calls shaming me on the phone. I got followed, thrown stones at and I lost a lot of friends and family. I will in the future too. There will be people who don’t understand it but to every one of you I shall say only one thing. If you are opening up, do it with pride and confidence because believe me when I say everyone has their own tale of Narnia in that closet. Bring the adventure, emotions, love, hate, challenges, joy and happiness out into this world, we all need it.

Everyone deserves to be happy and comfortable with their own soul. Love yourself and let no one take it away from you. So pick up your crown, Be the mighty Aslan and take your life into your hands. Express the beauty inside you. In the end I can say only one thing, Love wins, whatever the factors may be one, love made us, love brings us together and can destroy the most evil forces. Love free, live free.

 

I care for you a lot

Ajay Redij

It’s a journey about gratitude, love, care, principles, dreams and many more. It’s about my spiritual journey as a human being. I was born in well-educated and culturally sound family. Life has been a roller-coaster ride till date. What makes us lucky to be living beings is that we can know, understand, feel and respond to everything around us, isn’t it?

I came to terms about my sexuality much later, because I always avoided the topic myself. I would attribute my adolescence to “A birth of a river through the glaciers of feelings and emotions, which went deep underground to be discovered later.” I still remember weird dreams that I used to get, where I used to see a world of only men. My logical mind used to poke me about, “How will in this ‘World of Men‘, people will get married to each other?” Since then I have been living two lives. I used to be an ideal kid in family. And the other who was curious about emotional ups and downs happening inside me. I used to avoid the inner voice because, I was afraid of his feelings and I was protecting by hiding him in the deepest parts of my mind. Academically, I was average kid. Music was always my savvier. I am a good singer and used to sing in school programs.

10 years passed by and I was in second year of academic life. Everything was going well with my regular academics and personal life. And then one fine day, I got a huge crush on a guy, those were mixed feelings of joy and fear. I had no option than getting over those feelings. I overcame those situations somehow, but I was hurt. Was totally devastated from inside, was totally heart broken. I was literally ashamed of myself. Time passed and I completed my graduation and opted for Post-Graduation. My post-graduation was more of struggle for everything from my academic, personal and private life. I was in depression. And it was affecting everything around me. My mom used to notice and ask me about “what’s going on?” But I was not able to utter a single word. She already had been through a lot. My depression overtook me so bad that I was on anti-depressant medication for 2 months with counselling sessions. I was not able to tell my problems to my psychiatrist, due to fear of rejection. I used to feel I am only one who is going through this.

And finally I had failed my final exams. That time my situation was like, I had already been placed in a company, I had qualified NET lectureship and I had failed my final exam. I was staying alone in apartment, since I had shifted for job in new city. Those 2 months when I was living on my own and going through all this. I used to keep reading about it. Internet was big help to understand what exactly I was feeling. I came to know that, I was not only one who had been through this. There were many others. I used to see YouTube videos of people expressing their thoughts and that was helpful. I was trying to stay strong, but I was at the verge of going mad. I had read about coming out. How to tell someone about yourself and everything related. One day my elder sister called me and had a nice regular chat. I don’t remember what exactly she said, but that some statement triggered something inside me and I broke into tears. I felt similar feeling as if close beloved one’s death. I was not able to understand, why am I feeling that way? I didn’t eat anything for 2 days. I was having just water to survive and used to cry a lot when alone, which I used to be most of the times. I was realizing that one of my two personalities had died inside me and the one which I used to fake that was the one. I took a decision to commit suicide. 

But before that, I just wanted to give a try: how if I come out to someone so that if I get a support it will be like, “getting a support of stick for a drowning person.” If not than suicide option was already there. I could only think about my best friend in this matter. He told me that he was planning to come for an interview in my city. When we met I got really scared to utter a word about it, I went into complete silence. Then after a deep breath I said, “I wanted to share something with you about me that I have never told to anyone and it’s my big secret.” I just opened website of PFLAG and opened web page of FAQs for the close ones of LGBT. That page has answers to all the questions which come in mind of close ones when someone opens up about sexuality to them. He read it, and looked at me in eyes and asked, “What is it? Why did you give me this?” I said, “I never said about this to anyone, since 12 years. I have been living two lives, one is what you see me as and another is one I am protecting since I realised that I like boys and have no interest in girls. I feel very ashamed of myself and feel very depressing about it. I had taken decision of committing suicide. But to give a last chance I just wanted to tell and see the response about it.” He listened to what I said carefully and said, “See Ajay, why you are ashamed of yourself when you have made your family and every one of us proud by your achievements? Look at your achievements, you are so passionate about your research and you also have qualified NET lectureship. Doesn’t that makes you feel good? I don’t care about whom you like or what you are! You are good human being and that is what matters to me.” I broke into tears and couldn’t believe my ears for some time about what he just said. That moment was first moment of joy I had after so long-time. I felt like I saw a ray of light just passed through some hole in the dark room where I was trapped since many years. Some barrier had been broken and had made water of the river to gush towards its destiny. I did reveal to him that at some point of time I had crush on him and we chuckled and laughed it off.

It was time for my re appearing for my October attempt and I had taken exam leave for a month from my company. I went home and was preparing for my exams. One night during dinner, there was a news about Lady Gaga visiting India for her show in New Delhi around 30th October 2011. In an interview she was talking about her album “Born this way” and about LGBT rights. I just casually asked mom, “What do you think about these people?” She was watching this interview and she looked at me in analytical way and said, “What we can say about them? They are also humans like us.” I was bewildered and surprised about her response.

A day went by, I was preparing for my exams, and my sister came to see if I needed any help in preparations. She is my sweetheart. She has always been with me no matter what. She asked is there anything she can do for me. I was at the edge of breaking down, my eyes were red, throat completely dried. I looked in to her eyes and said, “I wanted to tell you something. “She became very concerned about me. I broke into tears and she got emotional and said, “Tell me whatever it is, no matter what I have been and will be there for you.” I said, “Since 12 years I have been hiding half of my identity, I have been living dual lives.” I couldn’t speak any more & gave her my diary. She went through and after few lines and said, “Ajay, I am not able to understand what this is all about. Please, tell me clearly”. I said, ” I am in depression Tai, I was ashamed of myself for being gay. I had decided to commit suicide”.She interrupted me in anger and said,” Why do you want to even think about suicide? Whenever such thoughts come to your mind remember how much efforts and sacrifices Mom and Dad have taken so that you become a better person in this world? How will we siblings feel devastated if such things happen? Ajay, right now I am shocked and not able to understand how to respond. This all thing is new to me and I need time. But you need to focus on studies now.” And we started studying.

Day of exam approached and she came to drop me. As quite obvious, I couldn’t perform well in exam. In between when I was in exams, my sister told mom about me. I came out of exam hall. She had already come to pick me up. She asked me about how was it? I said that I attempted it. Then, she told me that she had told about it to mom. My hands froze, I was numb. I had to encounter her someday. I entered home. She had just finished her bath, hair covered with towel and was doing Pooja. She saw me coming, I was completely tensed. I saw her eyes red. She was reciting some stotra. She didn’t say anything, just went inside in kitchen. After completing her Pooja rituals, she made lunch ready to serve on dining table. I was sitting in hall. She called sister and informed to tell me to come for lunch. While having lunch, I was looking at her she was making sure I am having proper food, but not talking to me. I was calm as I knew she might be shocked and sad. So I decided let that phase pass away. Days went by in similar way. I used to show my sister examples of people like Ricky Martin, who are living a great life in spite of being homosexual. I used to show her video of people who have suffered because of rejections, confessions, how families of some people support their homosexual kids. She used to ask me all sorts of questions that used to bug her. I was open to everything she asked. She once asked me whether if I feel like a girl or transgender. I said I inclined towards being masculine with feminine touch. She took time to understand that. I used to give her to read all FAQs provided on support websites. I used to feel that it would have been better if those articles would have been also published in regional languages. I wanted mom also to go through those.

Two weeks passed by in similar way. Mom still not talking to me but taking care of me. She used to ask my sister all questions that came to her mind. She ask what wrong they as humans had done that they got kid like me? Maybe because of having 2 elder sisters this might have happened.  She was in a situation where she couldn’t even consult anyone about this. One of my uncles is psychologist, she insisted my sister to take me to him. One evening, I was preparing for my last paper of my exam and I wanted to break ice. So usually I and mom share one cute moment together when I do her oil massage on head. She was watching some programme on television. I took oil bottle and started my conversation, first she hesitated. I was just controlling myself from breaking down to cry.  I said, Mom, why aren’t you talking to me? I know you are holding something inside you. I care about you, I don’t want your blood pressure to shoot high. I want you to express what you have in your mind. You want to scold me do it? You want to beat me do it? I would be really happy if you kill me also, anyways I am part of you. I owe my life to you. This is true that I have not talked about it to you. But mom, there was a time when I was ashamed of myself and wanted to leave this world. She just said, “I am not angry upon you. I want you to meet Psychiatrist uncle and get guidance upon this. I would like to know his opinion in this matter. Look, Ajay I care for you a lot. More than you imagine. And I am worried about how will you lead your life with all this without acceptance in our society? As of now, focus on your studies and build you position so strong that no one dare to think of judging you. Become a strong personality and inspiration to many by your good deeds. That’s what I am expecting from you“. I met uncle and as excepted he was supportive and conveyed this to mom.

Days passed and one day I took her for “Ek Madhav Baug” play by Humsafer Trust. That’s when she fully accepted me.

PC: All images linked to their original sources.

In just one single day

Here I present you my worst experience being gay in my college. I did my hotel management from a college in Wayanad district of Kerala. I was one the best student of my class, teachers liked me a lot since I was also a classical dancer of Odissi. Everyone gave me respect. But an incident which took place, spoiled everything in just one single day.

I was in relationship with a guy whom I had met 4 years back, when I was too young for relationship. But I was in love with him, and he was a good person. But one day I came to know that he was the biggest fraud I had ever met. After that breakup I came across a guy whom I had accidentally met and later became good friends with. One day he wanted me to accompany him to Trivandrum and I went along. In the night we took a room and stayed there he kissed me and did some softcore. After few seconds he said he got to reply some messages and he took his mobile and clicked my pictures.

Few days later he asked me for 4000 rupees, since I was a student and I didn’t have. I said I don’t have, then his way of talking changed and started blackmailing with my photos. I was terrified and I paid him 4000 rupees but few days later he asked me for 8000. I really didn’t had and when I refused he said he will publish my photos and since he was working in a telecom company he easily traced out my address and other details. And started threatening me again and again. And when I discussed this with my friend he said “You are unnecessarily taking tension” and asked me to be bold and tell him to go & do whatever he wants. I did the same and then next day changed my life.

I was alone in my hostel room, sleeping it was early morning 5 am and someone started knocking my door. I was sleepy so didn’t open the door, I asked them what they want in the early morning and they replied me to check my Facebook. I found there was nothing special, I saw there was a new friend request from an account which was looking like my own account my name, details and my photo everything was the same. And it was him when I saw it was showing 23 mutual friends and me saw all were my college mate’s senior’s staffs teachers. And his id was uploaded with my nude photos. I felt like killing myself, suddenly more people started knocking my door and I was totally lost. I went and opened the door and all the class mates were there to tease me insult me. I was crying but it didn’t bother anyone, I didn’t talked to them.
Just ran to the stair case and said I am going to end my life. I said goodbye & was standing near the handrail. Was afraid to die but didn’t had another option too. Suddenly my friend who advised me to be bold earlier came to me n said “what are you doing?” my eyes were filled with tears & said I want to die. He said “Why you say you are gay & can’t survive?” He came towards handrail, pulled my hair & slapped me, hugged me and said “kill him rather than killing yourself.”

The moment when I came back to my room, for my class mates I was like an untouchable person; no one talked to me no one sat with me.  No one talked to me. For several days I didn’t have a seat in my college bus. Always being insulted. I got extra duties. No one clapped for my dance programs. Said bad words about me. I faced a lot of insult from my teachers too. Earlier I used to write attendance register and other works but I was stopped from doing all those things since I was gay. Even if I sat somewhere in cafeteria the other group of student will get up & leave. One day I felt like crying and went to the washroom and threw my foods away. All of this was happening because I was gay. Gay gay gay they gave me several names, teased me, harassed me.
Several times I really felt that it was better to commit suicide.

Slowly 6 friends among them understood me and came to me as a good friends. We had our own good times. Slowly I began to understand that I haven’t done any crime to deserve this. I was harassed even by one of my chief, who taught us food production. One day when the class had to submit our log book and we all submitted in which only my log book was not corrected or signed, then I went to him for getting my log book signed. He was sitting with few other teachers and said “Hey, I came to know that you will bend your ass in front of anyone who waves.” I was really shocked and terrified because a person who was a teacher of mine insulted me. Suddenly I replied “Sir if you want me to bend for you don’t need to wave your hands, just give me a miss call” Listening to this he felt embarrassed & insulted. I added “Sir, you are not paying my fees, nor educating me or taking care of my expense or giving me shelter and food so it shouldn’t matter to you whether I bend my ass or not”. I said “You just take care of your child who is just 5 years old”. He was mum.

Listening to this several well-wishers form my college encouraged me that I have guts to speak. They encouraged me to reply back to people who are nasty & hurtful, I listened to them and did just that.

Once we had an extempore speech competition in our quality development class and before like I mentioned I had few best friends and among them, one was a girl. She took the lot and her topic was “Should gay marriage to be legalized or not?” And she asked me to help her to prepare for the speech and I helped her, she asked me my experience and all… And when the debate started it was like she said everything in an opposing way. I felt so hurt & insulted. My madam asked me to counter her arguments, I said my part and made her mouth shut and on that day our friendship ended.

After finishing the speech whole class supported her and I said you are you all clapping? I said “You fools before clapping and encouraging others, you all don’t know that there were 11 boys from my class who asked me for sex date and had sex with me. I will never disclose their names because I have promised them, I will disclose their names one day when I leave this college.”

The whole class started looking at each other, all started to doubt their friends, roommates etc. I lied that I had sex with 11 people in fact I never had sex with anyone in my college but my gutsy dialogue made them confused. And because of that doubt popped among friends several classmates of mine fought with each other doubting each other. But only I know that what I told was just a lie, to divert everyone’s mind.

Final exam came whole class became enemies with each other. I was happy to see that because they spoiled my 3 years and my one single lie spoiled their friendship which they build in 3 years. Everyone dispersed from college like how they were in the first days of the colleges without speaking much with each other. I was happy to see that no one gained anything in return of my tears. Finally those 11 names became an unknown secret to everyone. Till now they are waiting for that. College over classes over and here I finish my long story.

Bhai Dooj

Unmesh Potdar

 

“Happy Diwali! Happy Bhau-beej!” chimed sister right from the bungalow gate. Mother ran down the steps as usual to shower kisses on her grandchildren. It was Diwali 2015; day of bhai dooj: when both my sisters will come down to Satara to celebrate the festival.

Day went well, exchanging gifts, jokes and family gossips. Once that quota was over, father turned towards his favorite subject: His son’s marriage.

“I am not forcing you to do anything”, he hissed. “I am just curious to know your plans for future. Look around in our colony. Most boys of your age have at least 1 kid now. Your mother and I have to answer people, you know!” By now, I had lost appetite even though there was a plate full of my favourite Chakalis and Khoya Karanjis in front of me. “Let’s have a discussion.” He said. This is his favourite line because in such discussions he’s the only one who gets to talk.

I have not thought about marriage yet, Baba.” I tried sounding disinterested as possible – “You know I am not stable career wise. Let’s take possession of our Pune flat first, let me buy a car and have some savings, then I can think about it. Jaldi Kya Hai?”

I knew I had pressed Play button on a record player. I am so used to this- He starts off by saying how I never listen to him, How I am not serious about my future, How he’s always tried to be my friend more than a father but I always cling on to my mother’s Pallu; etc etc etc. I prefer to keep mum. Else it’s WW III on the dining table.

20 minutes of him going on and on about the same topic, there was a moment when I lost my patience. “I don’t wanna get married”; I barked. “Look around! You think marriage is the ultimate goal of life? Sorry to disappoint you but I don’t think that way. I don’t believe in the institution of marriage. So henceforth don’t ask me anything about getting married.”

I could see his flushed face. “What the hell are you talking about? Did you learn these things in the UK? What now…. you want to be in a Live-in relationship or what? I may even agree to that! Who’s the girl? Is there one? Tell me! I am talking to you!! Tell me!!!”

He had always mocked me and mother with a phrase- ‘Mounam Sarvam Sadhanam’. (Silence can convey everything) I chose the same path. Being quiet. He kept staring at my face with a demanding look. I was still biting my nails. “FINE!!!!”; he suddenly bursts like a volcano, “Don’t tell me anything! I don’t want to be part of this conversation anymore. Talk to your mother and sisters like you always do. I am out of here!”

We heard the car engine growl. Before mother can even utter a word, he was out of the bunglow gate.

“What is the matter, Unu?” She turned towards me. I can sense her concern in that kind voice. “Why are you saying all this? Has anyone said anything to you? See, we all have to get married one day. We need someone to look after us in our old age. Spouse, babies, grandchildren: they give meaning to our life. What’s causing you this fear towards marriage? Why this hatred towards girls?”

“Aie, sit down” I muttered. “You want to know if I am scared to get married? Do you think I have hatred towards women? I’ll tell you something that I have struggled for 28 years of my life. Don’t think that this has dawned upon me overnight. I have given it serious thoughts since last 3 years and only because of that I can gather enough courage to tell you that I don’t have any feelings for women. I have feelings for men.”

I am sure if anyone had dropped a pin, we would have heard its sound. I was just cold and numb. Cold and numb with sweaty palms. Most awkward 5 minutes of our lives.

“Have you considered visiting a counsellor…….”, sister tried to mumble but I cut her off. “I have done the counsellor as well as psychiatrist bit, Tai. As I said, I have given this enough time to gather courage to speak in front of you. I am not saying accept this right now. I have taken years to accept myself. Take your time. But this is me.”

Silence just grew deeper as the night progressed. I tucked myself in the bed yet my ears were stressing themselves to catch traces of whispers outside my room.

Next day was the real struggle. I think it sank into everyone what exactly happened yesterday. I knew: an open dialogue is much needed and that’s what I did.

“Put yourself in that girl’s shoes.” I had told my sisters. “Every girl wants and deserves a perfect husband. Do you think I’ll be able to satisfy her emotionally? You both are married. What if you discover that your husbands are Gay? How will you feel? And who gave me rights to toy with a girl’s emotions?” They gave me a startled stare. “I agree to what you are saying, Unmesh” elder sister spoke. “But what is the future of this? This isn’t legal in India. You know what sort of narrow minded city our parents live in. How are you planning to deal with this?”

I had to explain to them that though it is bit difficult to find a stable partner, but there’s always hope. How we are fighting our battle for our rights and how family is the first place where we get immense support.

“We are always there to support you but you understand that we have our families too. Focus on your career and find yourself someone to take care of you. For god’s sake, don’t die like Parween Babi.”

Talking to mother was extremely emotional for me. I am attached to her deeply since childhood and I always felt like I am cheating on her by hiding this big secret of mine. I knew that behind her disappointed face she was trying to hide her worry for me. More than the society, she was worried for me, haunted by the common question: Humare Baad Tumhara Kya Hoga?

Father had his own doubts about what is homosexuality and I’d never blame him as he belongs to a city which takes immense pride in defining masculinity and femininity: Kolhapur. “I know you watch blue films”, he said in hushed voice, making sure mother isn’t around. “I have seen those CD’s in your room. Dont you feel aroused looking at those women? Khada nahi hota?” “Hota hai”, my tone was cold as ice. “But looking at the man in porn, not because of the woman.”

And then there was silence.

Since then three more bhaidoojs have come and gone. I think they’ve made peace with the fact that I am not going to marry ever, with a girl at least. I still think they are struggling to understanding homosexuality. I am glad that I took a step to take that huge burden off my chest. They are still worried about my future, but at least they are happy, because I am happy.

A Miss or a Messy Miss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

shouldn’t the world fear a man who has nothing to lose?

Saiganesh Krishnamoorthy

Amsterdam

I hate the word ‘Lucky’. Especially when someone uses that word to define anything that has happened to me. I believe in destiny of course. But luck? Not a chance!  Despite all the curve-balls that life threw at me, if I’ve managed to sustain so far, it’s because of the faith I have in myself, the people around me and the one above. Do not defile hard work & skill with a word that denotes probability.

It is my journey and the situations that have prompted me to accept who I am and signaled me to be the change I wanted to see.

Childhood days: A phase of apathy

I was a good student (I hope). Math, languages and science fascinated me. Favorite of the teachers and unsurprisingly, good at creative stuff. Sketching, dancing, theater and what not! Anything but sports. I was passionate about dancing (Bharatanatyam) and saw that as a way of meditation even. Kids at school used to make fun of that, although it never bothered me. Somehow I found ways to avoid bullying at school, thanks to my quarrelsome nature. I knew how to bicker well and since I was good at a lot of other things, I used them as a shield against any sort of bullying. Silly, yes, but it worked brilliantly.

My family

Coming to my family, destiny did a number on me. Being the youngest child, I had to witness my parents succumb to illnesses. A mentally challenged brother and sick parents would not be an ideal combination for anyone. However, the love we had for one another seemed to help. And their only pleasure seemed to be hearing good things about me from their kith and kin. That was the little gift I could give them for all that they did despite their shortcomings. And so, I carried on, falling in love with girls (And no, they were not my ‘beards’), focusing on studies and extracurricular activities. I did idolize a few senior guys but assumed that to be similar to fans glorifying their heroes. Growing up in an orthodox neighborhood, it never hit me to even imagine otherwise.

College days: When the world comes crashing down

I lost my brother and father even before I could complete school and became the sole responsibility for looking after my (bed-ridden) mother. Naturally, I had to toughen up and handle it. But I couldn’t do it all alone. Regardless of all the tough act that I was displaying to others, I started aching from within. And I could no more hide the fact that I liked men. It was all new to me. I had an on-off thing with a guy then but it was a confused phase in my life. Growing up in a culture where heterosexual couples are the only things you see, hear and talk about, an alternate reality seemed improbable for me. Moreover, I was the only solace for my mother then. How crushing it’d be for her to deal with something that even I couldn’t understand.

Mom & me 🙂

But she disproved that idea by her sudden demise. My world officially crumbled. My life seemed to have lost its purpose. And simultaneously, a new life began to evolve in the garden city of India, with my paternal aunt (whom I greatly admired) and her family. It was all very confusing, to say the least, to lose everything at 22 and move to a new city, hoping to find peace. Bangalore understood my needs and seemed to wash away my sorrows. My family, consisting of my aunt, uncle and my (cousin) brother started cherishing me as their own and so was I. I also made lovely friends. Friends whom I could call at midnight and ask to meet without asking why. Bangalore understood my quirks and I didn’t feel odd for the first time in my life.

For some time, my relationship also went smooth. What started as a simple Facebook chat with this guy went on to become a lovely 3.5 years of companionship. We had our own idiosyncrasies, but our understanding of one another helped us work it out. But he wasn’t sure of whether he can be in it for a lifetime and soon made it clear that he’d have to marry a girl in the future. I hadn’t come out until then because of all this uncertainty and now it looked like that time may never come. I was sick of living dual lives, of constantly lying to my close ones, of having to portray someone I was not. Although theater is my passion, this drama seemed to be going on for ages now. I needed a breather.

It was then that my family decided to go on a 21-day long trip to Europe. What a way to change my mood from this break-up, I thought. Little did I know that I’d meet my soulmate there!

2014: The time has come

He was a part of the trip. Quiet, attentive, neatly dressed, well-spoken and extremely kind to everyone (even the most annoying aunties). There was this air of sophistication, humility and kindness about him. We were both with our families, closeted and had no idea that the other person was gay. Yet we ended up spending our nights talking about mysteries of the world, of ‘detached attachment’, of ‘Maya’. Little did we know that we were getting sucked into it as well.

He went back to Canada after the trip (where he lived) and we started having email conversations. It started very formal initially (‘Hope you landed safely! ‘Twas great meeting you!’), and soon reached a phase of signing the email with our names together. We even expressed our love for one another by email! ‘For heaven’s sake, this should be the next Nicholas Sparks’ novel’, my friends said. We had the same set of interests, finished one another’s sentences and literally completed each other. I began to finally believe that life will be happy after all since I’ve found the missing piece of the puzzle, the ‘One’. Months later, he decided to come out to his family and he did. My prior relationship, however, made me tread the path of caution. So I decided to come out when I go to study in Canada and after moving in with him. Life would have been so different had that happened. If only!

A week after his coming out, he suffered a fatal rupture of tumor in his lungs and passed away.

.

.

.

.

.

That describes my state! I went blank. Everything went black. All the bold acting I had until then wore off. I cried day and night. I took his death as my liability. That I had lost my family too made me think that anyone I would ever love would face the same destiny. That I was cursed and damned for perpetuity.

I could have taken the extreme step. Pills, plastic bag – I could have come up with innovative ways to end my life in a painless fashion. But, I didn’t. I had promised my (late) mother that I would never succumb to suicidal thoughts and realized that I have to survive this. There’s nothing more to lose anyway. After all, shouldn’t the world fear a man who has nothing to lose?

So I decided to open about myself. Accept that this is who I am and only have those people in my life who’d accept me as such. I called everyone. My brother, close friends, colleagues. And I told them finally what I have been meaning to tell them for years – that I’m gay. People went through a wave of shock but they loved me no less than before. It also did take some time. It is not one of those coming out stories that can lead to a discussion. They could see that I was hurting. That it was true love for another soul, regardless of defined societal constructs. And they conceded that love is love after all.

Right now I’m in one the world’s most liberal cities, Amsterdam. In a company that lets me create inclusive programs for everyone. What a roller coaster ride has it been! Life will never be a bed of roses. But it’s not going to be all thorns either. A happy ending just needs a lot of hard work, both mentally and emotionally.

 

 

Image credits:

Heart band aid

Queer Canada Flag

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