“Go have sex with a girl and I won’t mind!”
My brother spewed these words when I first decided to come out to him. My brother, whom I always felt connected to and believed that I could share almost anything with, surprised me when he rejected me for my sexuality and tried to convince me that this is just a ‘phase’ and that I would eventually ‘change’. Not only did I feel devastated, but I found myself in a place where I had absolutely no support system.
Growing up, I lived in different cities and made new friends all the time. I also invited a lot of trouble for myself while living in places where people weren’t really exposed to alternate sexualities. Things did not really go well when people started picking on my hand gestures which according to them were sissy or effeminate. They would often taunt me and call me names such as ‘chhakka‘, ‘hijra’, and ‘gay’. I would often find myself wondering – what is it about me that makes me a subject of humiliation? What makes me so different from them?
I found my answer in the closest circle of people around me. My brother became my biggest point of reference. I started to emulate my brother in the hope that it would help me become more ‘masculine’ like him. I started acting like him. And I started to take more interest in cricket and football. All these efforts were made just so that I could blend in with a society where heterosexuality has always been the norm. Humiliation in all kinds of social settings and the degree to which it impacted me forced me to change myself completely. I actively started working on myself. Years passed by and I found myself leading two different lives – one of a ‘normal’ heterosexual guy like any other while being the perfect son to my parents, and then the second one who still knew who he was inside and would secretively try to meet guys through the internet in search of love.
Over the last few years, I have been able to muster enough confidence (in terms of my sexuality) to be able to stand up to my brother, and convince him that being gay is as normal as being straight, and that everyone has the right to choose who they want to love. I have also been able to surround myself with people who wouldn’t think of me any differently just because of my sexuality. But, I am at a stage where I do not envision coming out to my parents in the near future, given that my family (like most Indian families) is very patriarchal. And coming out as gay would either invite extreme ridicule or abandonment.
The reason I shared this anecdote with the readers here is that I think there are a lot of guys like me who live a double-life every day. For whom, life is a daily struggle with a lot of insecurities. As a queer person, I really believe one should be able to trust oneself and one’s sexuality. And surrounding yourself with people who appreciate you, acknowledge your struggle and treat you like they would treat any other person eventually helps you build a strong personality.
Still, I often debate with myself about which life is better – the one that is completely out of the closet or the one that has one foot in the closet and the other foot out of it.