At age 6-7, I knew I was different. I did not know how to articulate it like many other gay kids. I was bullied, called names and yet a few boys in my class also showed ‘affection’. Honestly, I loved it and wanted it to continue. But then, they grew and suddenly were interested in girls. At that age, how I wished to be a girl!
The Struggle To Fit In Into A Homophobic World
Fast forward a few years later in college, I was dating girls and trying my best to ‘fit in’. Just to look more like a ‘man’ I would smoke, drink and I even got a tattoo to look ‘macho’. As soon as the girl would try to get physical with me, I would break up with her, making her feel that it was her fault.
It was a terrible thing to do and I regret it. To be fair, I did not know any better at that time. After I ran out of ways to not look, feel and be gay, I slipped into a zone of being alone. I made peace with it and told myself that I was always going to be alone. Just imagine at 22-23 a young man telling himself that he is going to grow old and die all alone.
After my graduation, I started working in the family business and also started working out in a gym where I had a life membership. I developed a new passion for fitness as it made me feel good about myself. Working out till date is my ‘high’. In that gym, I saw a guy about my age, at the time I was 24.
I thought to myself, what a good looking, charming man! I wanted him to approach me and ask me out. How silly, I thought the next moment. A few days later, he did speak to me and as time passed, I fell in love. For the first time in my life, I thought that this feeling is real and there is nothing wrong with it.
Related Reading: 10 Myths & Misconceptions About Gay People
Coming out of the closet
I made a decision to come out to my family. One morning, I told my grandmother, who told my mother, who told my father, who told my brother. By evening, everyone knew including my brother’s in-laws. I was relieved. I felt so light and free. From that day on, my entire family went into a closet. They were ‘ok’ with me being gay but they were not alright with the world knowing it. Such is the irony of life, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.
On International Day Against Homophobia, I’d like to reiterate that merely putting up with a loved one’s sexuality isn’t an absolution from homophobia. Unless you can accept and embrace them for who they’re, you cannot claim to have freed yourself from prejudices stemming from centuries-old societal conditioning.
Related Reading: Coming Out Of The Closet: 4 Gay Coming Out Stories
My family tolerates my sexuality, but hasn’t accepted it
Today, I am 35, and have been living with my partner for 10 years. My family that is now reduced to just my father and my brother do not know how our life together as a couple is. At family functions, only I am invited. On the phone, they only ask about me. I wonder, what are they afraid of?
A few years back it made me very angry. But today, as I know more, I understand them. I am also writing this story under a pseudonym. But my reasons are different than theirs. They are closeted for the same reason that I was, shame, loss of face, acceptance from society, stigma, etc., while I am hiding from being typecast. I aspire to be an actor and in our country, even the big stars get typecast, so who am I?
I cannot help but wonder, would I be accepted in the role of a ‘womanizer’ or a ‘macho villain’ if I become an actor and if I am out to ‘them’?