(As told to Sourish Samanta)
When pain turns into numbness and you do what you are conditioned to
I have always been the shy type. Even at school, I used to be quiet and never liked to talk or socialise as such. High school was hard for me. It was the time when I realised that I liked men. I learned to ignore that and went with the flow or the norm.
It was easy for me to ignore, even though I felt this urge to die inside. Maybe my depression also started from that time. It was harder for me to come to terms with the fact that I am gay. It felt like I had to fight with something that was there by default. The fight felt wrong but I didn’t have the urge to confess to anyone. I used to spend my nights looking at pictures of men and thinking how wrong it is. I once thought that I could make this go away if I start dating women.
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The part where I had to pretend all along
Acting straight was something I was good at, so good that I had relationships with girls, like proper relationships. It was so unfair, to me and the women I dated. I didn’t even kiss them or have any intimate interactions, to begin with. That is something that any partner would want, but my lack of reciprocation made them go away.
It still haunts me when I think about the time I dated women. I realised how conditioned my brain was that my conscience would even push me to date women. The heteronormative agencies were pretty much at play since I was born. It is just how I was brought up, listening to my mother and father talking about my wife and my kid (in future of course). That somewhat became “the normal” for me.
I was made to learn what normal was and coerced into negating my identity. I was scared to even think about men. So I tried not to slip, but whenever I slipped, I would keep myself in isolation where I would talk myself out of it. This turbulence would persist for months and I would feel like killing myself.
Bowing down to patriarchy
Some cis-het people would say things like “Hey, get over it man, you are just gay, you don’t need a special reward for that.” On the contrary, I do deserve a virtual cookie, since coming out as a gay man in a homophobic and a hostile society like this takes a lot of courage. Anyone knows the cost of going against the norm, the alienation, the lack of acceptance, the hostile treatment. This is also faced by outspoken women. So, in a place where women rights’ can be compromised, gay people have no place.
Related reading: I don’t know how my life will end because I’m Muslim and gay
These are the things that came to my mind whenever I thought of coming out as a gay man. So, I decided that I would go back to dating women. I remember spending a lot of time and looking up blogs where I would read up about how a woman could be impressed. Now that I remember those days, I realise how problematic those articles were. I could only blame the patriarchy. The toxic manipulation of making you think that being gay would terminate the validations you will get as a man. I was too afraid to even compromise my manhood back then and I did what I had to. Dating many women throughout my teenage life made me understand where I was going wrong. Even though I was doing it consciously, I knew what I was doing was wrong and unjust.
Everything begins somewhere
Then I started to come to terms with sexuality. I started educating myself and took the help of my close friends. Surprisingly enough, I was never judged by my friends. They embraced the fact that I was gay. I came out to myself and that was probably the most liberating thing I could have done for myself.
I came out to myself and that was probably the most liberating thing I could have done for myself.
It got a lot easier after I did that, then I came out publicly soon after that. It was a huge step, but I did that regardless of the consequences.
The sense of liberation came once I understood the deep problems that came from our conditioning and social implication on homosexuality in general. The lack of sensitivity and the sheer ignorance has given birth to homophobia which got institutionalised in a way where fighting with it became tiring. You just can’t uproot an old tree in a day, you have to work hard and dig deeper to find the root, once that gets done, the rest of it gets easier.