Writing this during International Pride Month might have been the more reasonable choice, I just wasn’t sure if I could do it.
I have spent the last month watching hundreds of videos from the world over about the LGBTQIA community, my community, celebrating Pride in New York, which marked 50th anniversary of Stonewall uprising. I watched videos of London Pride on July 7 too. All this was a cathartic experience for me and gave me the courage that I needed to write about my own struggle with sexuality. I know that people have had worse struggles than mine, but if my story helps even a single person, the purpose of this write-up will be served.
Coming to terms with your sexuality isn’t as easy as those who discard it as a disease seem to think. Sex is a taboo in 21st century India, let alone homosexual sex. It’s due to the lack of discussion on this topic that it sometimes takes years for people to realize what their sexual orientation is. Some realize it at an early age, some when they hit puberty, and some even after their teenage years.
It feels like my whole life I have had this glass wall in front of me, a wall I can see through but cannot cross to get to the other side. I came to know about my sexuality about a year ago, and with it began my agonising journey of depression.
I study at one of the most prestigious institutions of India—Hindu College. People there are not as homophobic as, let’s say, the small village I come from and most parts of the country. Yet, having realized that, I still couldn’t muster the courage to come out to my friends. Every night, I plan to do it the following day, and yet something inside me holds me back, for I am afraid that I might lose them.
March 29, 2019, is a date which is going to last in my memory forever. Coming back home after my classes, I started watching a movie called “Prayers for Bobby”. The climax of this movie is where Bobby, the protagonist, jumps off a bridge and kills himself because his family couldn’t accept the fact that he was gay. It made me tear up. Burdened by college internals, I, half-heartedly, tried to prepare for my tests but bringing my mind and soul into congruence was difficult for me that day.
I have been pretty close to my elder brother and as soon as I realized that I was gay, I kept wanting to share this with him. But I decided against it every time, worrying about how he would react and what if he told our parents. I, however, had avoided it long enough and now my own truth was suffocating me and killing me inside.
At 11:18pm on the same night, I sent a long message on WhatsApp to my brother, who was sleeping in the room adjacent to mine, and told him everything. I even mentioned that he might hate me after this but I badly needed to get it off my chest if I intended to stay alive. I avoided him the following morning and left early for class.
Contrary to my expectations, he was pretty cool with it. “Arey ****,” he said. “Don’t feel suffocated. It’s a normal thing. Get good education and pursue your dreams. Everything will fall in place.”
As comforting as these words were, he didn’t say anything about it when we met next and I didn’t broach the subject either. It was awkward for a few days but things are back to normal now.
We all crave acceptance, and being accepted and acknowledged by the people we love and admire is what keeps us going. I am done with living a double life and I want to be the same person to my friends and family that I am to myself.
As I enter my final year of college after this summer break, I plan to come out to my friends and be unapologetic about who I am.
I want to go out on dates, meet new people, and do everything that heterosexual people have been able to do without being judged and frowned upon.
In hindsight, coming out to myself was more difficult than coming out to my brother. There are millions of people out there like me who are in the closet and fear coming out to their loved ones. Not being able to come out pushed me back to a deeper closet, I cut off ties with people, would spend most of my time alone. I thought of killing myself. I write this today because I know how difficult it can be to accept yourself when you’ll be called names, cursed, or, worse, killed for who you are.
Initially, I struggled with suicidal thoughts going on in my mind all the time. But I did not give in to such thoughts and nor should you do.
I want you to hold on to life, and I know it sounds clichéd but it really does get better.