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A Boy And His Closet: My Coming Out Story

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Submitted Anonymously:

So how did you figure out that you’re …gay?

The first time someone asked me this, I was in the 10th grade and I had just come out to my best friend. We had a free study period due to the CBSE board exams just around the corner, and she asked me why I had been so fidgety all day long. I tried to go with the ‘I’m nervous about exams’ excuse but she knew otherwise. So we went on a long walk around the school to talk it out. I was 14-years-old at the time, a highly self-motivated student with big plans and seemingly no worries. It would have taken me a second to tell her, ‘I’m gay’, but it took me an hour to gain the courage. She had no qualms about the fact that her best friend was gay but I still didn’t have an answer to her question.

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In 7th grade, I spent most of my time with a small group of male friends. This meant that our conversations spiralled around 3 topics that we apparently weren’t supposed to be talking about: hot girls, the human body, and sex. The only information we had about these ‘trending topics’ came from popular movies, music, and ridiculous classroom rumours like ‘masturbation will give you pimples’. But although it was very exciting to talk about all of this, I could never quite relate to how my friends felt. While they described their vivid dreams about some porn star’s breasts, I told them fake stories of how some girl made me feel some way. I kept waiting to feel that certain way about a girl so that I could tell them real stories, but that never happened. I knew by then that I was so much more fascinated with the male body but the idea that I was gay never struck me.

In 8th grade, the word gay was synonymous with stupid, lame, and inferior. It took me another 2 years and lots of internet surfing to realise that homosexuality was more than an insult and that I wasn’t the only male who was physically attracted to other males. I still wasn’t ready to call myself gay though. In my mind, no one else in India was gay as far as my teachers, classmates, and politicians were concerned, and I definitely did not want to be the odd one out. Especially not in high school. I was also told that it was a choice, so I chose to ‘un-gay’ myself, or tried to, at least. That didn’t work either – for me, Varun Dhawan was still hotter than Alia Bhatt. What’s worse is that I actually believed for some time that I brought on my sexuality through some set of decisions and choices, and that I could get over it by engaging in sexual intercourse with a girl. Since no one talked about it, the silence only convinced me more of all my misconceptions.

Finally, in 10th grade, I fell for a boy and things started to change. I had a puzzle of mixed feelings for the funniest guy in my class, and when I put the pieces together, I could call it a crush. In retrospect, it was the silliest but most exciting experience to have at the time. It was the first time I could feel butterflies in my stomach, all those awkward cheesy feelings, and that curiosity about what it would be like to kiss the boy I liked. There was something intriguing about holding a secret so tight, but I had so many unanswered questions and a lot of hesitation. I finally wanted someone to talk to about what I was starting to experience. Subtle homophobic bullying plagued the school corridors with remarks about how homosexuality is disgusting. But when non-heterosexual representation increased in the media, people were finally talking about it. It was starting to get lonely and dark in my closet, but at least I could recognise the closet I was in.

As the doubts haunted my adolescent mind, I was so afraid that I may never be able to have a satisfying relationship with anyone. If only I saw more gay people that I could relate to in my school, in movies, in newspapers and in books, I wouldn’t have felt that way. All I needed to know was that gay people existed in my country and that they were completely ‘normal’ – that I was completely ‘normal’.

When I explained this story to my best friend during our long walk, I realised that my answer to her question shouldn’t have been so complex and long. If only we’d learnt earlier in school that human sexuality is diverse, intrinsic, and ubiquitous, perhaps we would think twice before pushing more teenagers into their closets.

Today, I can see how much has changed since that significant day. I’ve come out to all my friends and my closest family members, and almost all the reactions have been positive. For most people, it was the first time someone came out to them, and so a lot of explanations were needed. But would it have been different for people like me if we knew about human sexuality already? The student bodies in our schools today are taking forward the pressing need for Comprehensive Sexuality Education with initiatives such as Breaking Barriers and Social Awareness Week by The Global Impact Project. Perhaps if we start to #TalkSexuality in schools today, the impact will shut more ignorant ideas and open more closet doors for students nationwide. Perhaps, as people will then be more informed about gender and different sexual identities, which may decrease the likelihood of bullying and derogatory comments from peers and teachers, and prevent people from feeling ‘wrong’ or ‘alone’, among other issues.

[alert type=yellow ]Please share in the comment section below – any similar stories/instances around LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) issues that you may have experienced with regard to yourself or friends during adolescence.[/alert]

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  1. Neeharika

    My story seems a little inferior, because it’s a lot less dramatic.
    I knew what LGBT meant by the age of thirteen, and I was able to successfully identify myself as bisexual around the same time. It wasn’t a shocking revelation and I never tried to deny it; I guess I knew it all along. I knew I liked guys, but I also liked girls.
    I never made a big hoo-hah about coming out of the closet; I never did. I wasn’t ashamed or anything, but if one wants to normalize LGBTs into society, throwing yourself a party (with long speeches and heartfelt confessions to people who really didn’t NEED to ABSOLUTELY know for their own benefit) for realizing your sexual/romantic orientation, in my opinion, seems a bit much. I mean, if anyone wanted to know on which side of the fence I swung (or if I walked down the middle), all they’d have to do is come right up and ask. However, I knew that some people weren’t as lucky as I am, and that they’re super conflicted about their preferences and don’t know what to feel. That’s why I joined the online activists.
    There is one thing, though, that’s starting to develop and annoy me. It’s the fact that now, a lot of people are comfortable hanging around homosexual guys, but when it comes to bi or lesbian women, people turn away in disgust.
    Really, people? You’re bringing the age-old gender discrimination (which I thought this generation was over and done with, by the way) into something that is mostly accepted by the 21st century and not any time before us? You’re bringing an oil lamp into the age of the energy-efficient, CFC-free fluorescent light bulb? It’s okay to be gay, but its not okay to be lesbian and not okay to be bisexual if you’re a girl?
    *gives a slow round of applause*
    *while glaring*
    P.S. If you’ve read up till here, I applaud you sincerely and would like to give you a virtual chocolate-chip cookie 🙂

    1. Divyansh

      I want a chocolate chip cookie. :3
      And yea, I do support your cause. ^_^

  2. Amy Broadhead

    This story is great. I would love to share it on my blog: blog.comingoutdaily.com, which could help drive more traffic to your site as well. We should all be in this together!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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