I came out of the closet to my family
Coming out of the closet to your family is a gutsy yet liberating task. At the same time, it can be an extremely risky affair. There are three ways in which things will go once you have come out; first, they accept you with all their heart, second they disown and ridicule you and finally they accept you but expect you to keep it a secret for the rest of world and continue living in the closet with them.
When I finally came out…
I lived in denial for many years. From my adolescence, I knew I was different from the rest, but did not know what to call it. While I was unaware of how to categorise myself, my schoolmates seemed to have figured it out and started calling me “chhakka”, “hijara”, “girl”, “50:50”, etc. At 18, I went abroad and realised that what I am is gay. But soon after I got to know it, I also started realised the stigma of being gay/homosexual. At 23 I came back to India and made peace with the fact that I was always going to be alone. That same year, I met Himanshu and fell in love with him. It was only at 24, I accepted myself and decided to tell my parents as soon as I was sure.
The first person that I decided to tell was my Ajji, grandmother. “Who told you this? Let’s get your sex changed,” she said. I couldn’t stop laughing and after much effort, I managed convincing her that I was happy being a man, just that I wanted to be with a man and not a woman. She told my mother and of course, she in turn, told my father. For a few days there was no conversation over this.
A week later my father asked me if I was gay and I replied yes. I was ready to lose everything at that moment for my own liberation. I was not even financially independent and yet I took the risk. My dad was upset and decided to take me to a psychiatrist. “It is absolutely normal. More than him, it you guys who need counselling,” said the best psychiatrist in town, who also happened to be my father’s school friend.
Why I left home to come to Bangalore
One year later, I had found my soul-mate and started living with him in Pune. My parents were mad at me for leaving them and for not listening to them. They soon began to realise that this is who I was and that they had to accept it with grace, which they did. However, they set a condition. “We are fine with your sexuality as long as it is not public. Just make sure you are not seen with your boyfriend or do not tell our friends and relatives about this,” said my father. My mother looked at me and she knew from my look, that I was too fatigued living a life of lies. I did not want to shout from the top of a building announcing I am gay, but neither did I want to deny to people who wanted to know.
My boyfriend and I looked out and got jobs in Bangalore and we relocated. Today it’s been more than 3 years and we are living our lives on our terms. We do not go telling every person, but if anyone asks then we do not deny.
Related reading: I am gay, married and I seek equality, not approval from society
Dad is still showing my kundali to panditjis
While I am married and happily settled with my partner, my father goes around showing my kundali to astrologers asking about my marriage to a girl. While I have come out of the closet, I can’t help but wonder if my family is in the closet now trying to hide my sexuality to themselves and the world outside?
My brother, who is married with two daughters, has not taken the news very well. If anyone asks him about why I am not married (to a girl) at the age of 32, he simply asks them to call me and sometimes even dodges the question very well. His daughters are now entering their teenage and I am certain that soon they will start asking questions about their uncle who lives with a man. I can only hope that they come out of the closet about my sexuality to them, as I want the girls to know that nothing can keep me from being their loving uncle.
Why is it that a feeling of liberation for one becomes a burden for others? Why can’t parents and the rest of the family accept a gay man or a woman for who they are? Most importantly, is it really difficult to think about your loved one than to think how much the society will love you if they can put you in boxes of straight or not? Today, after a long battle with myself, depression, moving out and becoming financially and emotionally independent, I am happy to let people know who are curious to find out, but to my family’s bad luck, they’ve gone into the closet when it comes talking about my life with my husband.