Rainbow Flag (Photo Credits: Twitter)
October 11 is celebrated in the United States as National Coming Out Day, a day that lauds numerous “coming out” stories. Whether they bring a smile to your face or cause a stray tear to leave your lids, each inspires you, overwhelms you and makes you feel whole. While we usually share celeb sagas, I decided to share my own coming out tale with you. Buckle up, peeps, for you are in for one hell of a ride.
Hijra, chhakka, gudd, maamu and paanti… these are few amongst the many choicest slangs that the bullies at my school shot at me. All of it started when I was in class eight. An effeminate boy, I knew exactly what those words meant. But I also knew that they didn’t define me. Bullying breaks you, more so when you don’t quite understand why you are different from the rest. My inner transition – an ah-mazing one, nevertheless – started when I was in the sixth grade. My inclination towards sarees, jewelleries, makeup, dresses and even the colour pink was a stamp of confirmation that shouted out loud, “I am hatke.” But, it came with its own perils. Oblivious to the darkness around me and lost in my own exuberance, I experienced my first assault. I still remember my first encounter with a guy who physically abused me in a men’s washroom in school when I was in class ninth. I know what you are thinking – Why didn’t I report it then and there? It takes guts to come out and talk about your assault tales, more so if you are not yet open about your sexuality. I was scared.
And for a good reason. My ride has been a bumpy one. From being sexually harassed by men in local trains to being blackmailed and threatened with murder, I have had my share of a torturous past. At those the times, I lacked the courage to say out loud that “I AM GAY!” One of the major reasons for my lack of confidence was that I had not come out to my family yet. My parents never questioned my attitude since the beginning, including my liking all the “girly” things. Still I was scared of losing them if I spoke the truth out and loud.
Finally, in the month of March 2015, I decided to talk to my parents about my sexuality. On the night after Holi, I opened up to them and said the three words: “I am Gay.” I still remember. It was half past midnight. While the silence of a world sleeping outside penetrated the walls of our house, shaking, my parents listened to my truth. And then they said what all parents tell their kids: “We’ll talk about it in the morning,” hoping, that this would turn out to be a bad dream, and their lives would be back to normal the next day. The next morning went by, and the one after that, and many more after that. But the morning that my parents promised didn’t come for almost four months. These was the most difficult period of my life, when my parents ignored me. You can fight anyone outside, but how do you fight your own loved ones? Every night my pillow would get drenched with my tears. Imagine my anguish – staying with my family and having to endure their rejection; their thumbs down to my existence. It was the darkest phase of my life.
But this had to end, right? I don’t know what came over me. But exactly four months after I told my parents about my sexuality, I approached my parents once again, and said these words: “I know you both love me, but just because I’m gay, you cannot ignore me and make me feel as if I am a criminal. If this behaviour continues I would want to leave the house and stay away.” Call it a blessing from the almighty, but after I spoke these words to my parents, things started changing in my life. My mom and dad finally accepted me and I could not believe it. Maybe, being the only child also helped. Whatever the reason, I got what I wanted — their acceptance. Cut straight to 2019, it’s been four years since I came out to my family. Things so different now that my parents and I even discuss my future husband. Born in a typical Gujju family, frankly, I never expected my parents to be this cool. I fear nothing. If today I have such confidence, credit goes to my parents and their gesture of acceptance. Trust me, it matters a lot!
Having said that, for many LGBTQ+ people, even today, coming out of the closet is hard. There are many who feel that they would bring dishonour upon their family if they did. There are others who are rejected by family for coming out as a gay or bisexual. But at the end, the choice to wear the rainbow tiara is yours and yours alone. You decide when you want to come out without any fear or pressure.
Even though now, in a world where section 377 is history and Indian law no longer criminalises homosexuality, it still emphasises that two people of the same gender cannot marry. The fight is still long and never ending. With its deep cultural taboos and laws that keep conflicting, India will not be a truly democratic nation for the LGBTQ+ community till every rainbow-head leads a life sans violence and prejudice and walks with dignity. It feels great to add my voice amidst the other loud and proud ones, finally, on this special day. Shout out loud my lovelies; you deserve to be heard too. Ta-da!