*Keshav belongs to the small-town of Kanpur, that is situated in the most populated state in India – Uttar Pradesh – with the literacy rate below 69% , that is much less than the national average. For him, growing up queer in the city which still considers live-in relationships a taboo was way too scary.
While chatting with him, I learn that Keshav was an introvert, geeky, and a overweight chap while in his teens (the age when one starts focusing on their looks). He reached puberty much earlier than others — he had too much hair all over his body with a ‘Daddy Moustache’. Well, this was one of the reason to have been made him feel like an outcast, the fool at school. The young man was not into sports at all. From inside, he always wanted to go shop for nice things and eat nice food, but could not tell that to anyone (this would only give others more masala to talk about). And rather than thinking about girls, like his male classmates, he started focusing on his studies Guys were obviously in the back of his mind, which he realises quite later.
Being from a small town, he hardly had any outings with people apart from family and cousins with orthodox opinionated mindsets. Television and fashion magazines would get him some respite which helped him escape reality. He started following all the travel, fashion, and food channels. Soon came the time for him to decide the career for himself and start applying for the colleges. He chose the obvious – engineering.
He tells me that college at least gave him an exposure to a big city — New Delhi. He started to change as a person and started being more of extrovert. He turned more social and actually more active on social media. He decided to lose weight and finally groom himself. He learnt once you are groomed properly, you can look way better than you think of yourself. But, even after getting more ‘Likes’ on his pictures on social media, he had no girlfriends like the other guys did. He googled about the dating scene in Delhi and soon learnt about the apps to socialise and hookup, but he was not keen to meet any girls.
On one weekend, Keshav recalls, he happened to meet a guy. He was pretty, groomed and over-dressed. He went on a drive with him. It was refreshing and fun at the same time. He felt that he wasn’t alone there. They started meeting often and soon became sleeping buddies, without even realising that. With time passing, he graduated and soon got involved in his job and they could not meet due to their work routines. Keshav was still there on the apps though. He started to look around and wanted meet more people, he was young and curious. After, this incident he had already realised that he is gay and should not marry a girl which will be wrong to do.
As months passed, he had gained more insight about being gay – how to deal with it,how to make more friends and how to be inside the shell still enjoy the ‘freedom’ which one doesn’t have in India. Soon after a few heartbreaks and heartaches, he met this wonderful guy from Bangalore – Shray. He was tall, bearded and had the kind of physique which appealed to Keshav. They started dating briefly, and their relationship soon became intense.
One day he was visiting his hometown, he decided to come out to his parents. He remembers that it come as a huge shock to them. The first question that comes in any parents mind is ‘ is he going to turn into a girl? A Eunuch?’His mother did create a lot of drama, but when Keshav asked her never to share his liking for men with anyone else, she agreed. ‘He is just 24 and it is probably just a phase!’ That’s what his parents were thinking! Soon after he left, everything went back to being normal for Keshav.
He is currently working in an MNC and is in monogamous relationship with Shray. Only a close-knit group of friends know about his relationship and they are happy about it. They live as any other couple does, they fight, they go out for movies and they do NOT like visiting each other’s parents!
We should be happy with what we have, right? But we need to show what we want and work towards making it possible.
As told to Shubham Lamba.