Story By: Rishi Raj
31st March 2015 was the date when I came out to my family while frying pakoras. Coming out while frying pakoras? It’s like picking your friend’s nose, something which you probably don’t want to do (unless you have some sort of fetish). So I was frying pakoras for this lady guest who was my crush’s mother. The lady while sipping tea, made a casual statement “Bhenji don’t mind but aapke bete ko gay wali bimari hai isse doctor ko dikhao”(Sister, don’t mind but your son has an illness of being gay). As soon as she completed her sentence I was already shouting with a spatula in my hand about how much masculine and straight I was, I was lying. But the lady was equipped to pull out the diva from the closet because she had “eyewitnesses”. She soon told my mother how gay I was but the actual Indian drama started when she left. I was sitting in the corner of my room, sobbing and crying, trying to explain to my mother that I am straight, but as we all know “maa toh maa hoti hai”, so she had an idea about me being a homosexual since I was born.
Now my father came back from office, he said, “We really don’t care whom you fuck with, just tell us if you are” (it was a trap and I fell for it). I came out to them finally. Yes, the pakoras were burnt black and the kitchen was about to be set on fire but thank god our maid was there who saved our house from burning down.
Later that week my parents took me to a psychiatrist for my aptitude test, just to know whether I was born gay or not, Since it was our not so happy 2 week anniversary of coming out. After 4 days the results were in my father’s hands which medically certified me as a born homosexual. Now my parents were trying even harder to convert me straight. My parents took me to this baba who fed us with great biryani but then later in one on one conversation with him, he threatened me that he would send me to juvenile jail for being gay. My parents were supporting him. That night too much blood had flowed from the wrist of a child shamed for whom he chose to kiss.
High school is the most awkward and disappointing part of any queer kid’s life. To be honest, boxes and labels are created right here in high school, for instance, if you want to be “masculine” then you need to have a rigid body language, you need to be emotionless (because boys don’t cry and they don’t have mental health issues because they are extraterrestrial super beings), you need to be part of every school fight, you need to be either a sports enthusiast or a gym freak, masculinity is also directly proportional to the number of girls you date.
With everything going on at home, it was even harder for me in school because I felt alienated as I didn’t not fit in. I decided that I would come out to these 4 close “trustworthy” friends of mine. Yet again, the gossip was leaked out and it spread like a wild forest fire. Now random people were talking about me, noticing me and staring me, so much negative attention was hard to handle.
Even teachers were fascinated to see a homosexual creature. My previous English teacher came to me as soon as she heard my little secret. She sat next to me and gave me her husband’s contact details for counseling sessions to heal me from my “sins”. I was almost suspended for reciting a poem on transpersons in a school assembly. When I was promoted to class 11th, I saw a complete change in my life. I was again in depression. I was molested for the third time. My parents said my effeminate behavior is the reason for which I got molested.
I was still trying to get comfortable with a bunch of kids who thought that I’d probably straight forward grab their genitals. But, I made some accepting and supportive friends during the period of self-acceptance; it somehow signifies that India is opening up on such issues. That was my first step towards self-acceptance, which made me realized that people around me were not homophobic but curious and uneducated.
I took a course on youth empowerment, where they taught us meditation and life values.
This course pulled me out of depression and helped me stabilize in life. Now I felt that I was there for a purpose and from that point, I had new positivity and grace inside me.
I felt that since I had been through so much, I could now empathize and work for people who might've gone through the same because if I don't speak up for myself and my people today I cannot expect anyone else to do that for me. I had to be the change, I need to bring the light.
After seeing the new me, a lot of queer kids came out to me. They found me to be the safest person to come out to, most of them feared that they would be outcasted or oppressed for being themselves. At least, now they had someone to share their true selves with. At this moment I felt that I had discovered the purpose of this body which was queer activism.
It's been 4 years now, my parents have accepted me as well. My journey has led me to find a queer union as well, through which I wish to grow and blossom like a lotus flower.
To any queer person who is reading this, acceptance is always slow and gradual. It takes months of evaporation, condensation, and what not to rain and form a rainbow. It will take time to radiate in your life, just don't lose faith and hope. Today I stand proud and open of whom I am, and this was my story.