My not so straight Journey

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

Story by Marshall Navin Barboza

Normal means human for me. Not something that everyone agrees upon. Not something that society deems to be correct or true. It means that I am as much human as the person reading this and who I wish to be with is a personal choice, not a ‘defect’ or ‘disease’.

I first started questioning my sexual orientation when I got in a relationship with a girl, back in my college days. I was seeking the thrills of youthful romantic interests, only I didn’t feel any such thing. It made me question all the insecurities I had as a boy.

I had to drop out of college due to financial concerns and started earning. That is when I decided to explore the LGBTQ community. Initially, I used to get triggered by my own thoughts of finding men more attractive than women. I couldn’t fathom that the external political reality of Section 377, could be reality, too.

With the internet not being a huge sensation back then as it is today, I asked my friends and got connected to somebody who had gone through a similar experience. He insisted I do this on my own. That exploring an identity that society deemed illegal and derogatory would neither be easy nor have a straight path, but it was necessary if I wanted to come out.

And I did. I accepted myself as Gay in 2012, despite the backlash I received. People in my locality would call me all kinds of names and would tell others not to go near me. I knew this would be a process; it would take time.

I couldn’t tell my mother around this time. Her health had declined and I had already lost my father in 2006. I started small by introducing her to a world of people who did not conform to heteronormative identities, despite being conditioned to such an upbringing. Gradually, by 2016, social media outlets like YouTube and Facebook had gathered enough attention from the queer community; that I was able to tell her about my work as an LGBTQ + activist.

It was only in 2020 that I told my mother that I was Gay. She has been very supportive since then. I can even go and talk to her about other people in the community without any hesitation. I’m grateful for her understanding and that of my brothers from the community. They not only supported me but have also been enthusiastic allies.

Today, I am a Certified Counsellor and Public Speaker. My work is geared towards creating an inclusive environment and generating awareness. I do talk shows on Instagram called ‘The Candid Hour’ that specifically engage in exploring experiences as a member of LGBTQ+.

I aim to use whatever resources I have to bring a sense of acknowledgement to people about homosexuality. A change in thinking is required. And for that change to take place, one needs to start by questioning all their ‘given truths.’ To understand that the binary is a man-made construct created for power relations.

I still remember the day when Section 377 was outlawed. I was screaming with joy and dancing around when I saw the news on TV. We went out and partied the whole day. It felt liberating to be accepted, finally. However, decriminalizing Section 377 in the eyes of law does not mean it has been decriminalized in the eyes of the common people.

In fighting prejudices and helping people understand, one often has to develop courage and self-preservation. I’m no different. I’ve had my ups and downs. I have changed from a boy who could hardly speak for himself to a human who helps others find their identities. I believe in living life to the fullest extent possible and I plan to do that by fully accepting who I am.

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