Right from my childhood, all the way to recent adulthood, I never had a single discussion on homosexuality, bisexuality or sexuality in my home, school or college- by anyone. Because of this, I was forced to hide in the closet for over 20 years.
I, however, always knew I was gay right from when I was a little boy. The sad part about living in a heteronormative environment was not knowing who to share my secret with. I grew up hearing stories of how openly gay people were disowned by their families, arrested by the police and humiliated by society, hence the thought of telling even one person my secret scared me to death until this year.
This year I shifted to Delhi to start a new job and started living independently. I slowly developed the confidence to crawl out of my shell and interact with gay people in the city. In around 9 months, I interacted with over 50 gay & bisexual men in Delhi- to whom I was open about my sexuality. After many conversations, dates and discussions, I decided to move ahead and share my secret with my family and friends next.
I’ve travelled the world and lived for a year in Canada, and I now understand why my community- the LGBTQ community that I am so happy to be a part of- doesn’t have rights in India- it’s because our struggles are invisible to the public eye. We don’t have the same rights as straight people because our country’s leaders aren’t sensitized to our hardships and challenges. People in the LGBTQ community are at a greater risk of suffering from depression, anxiety, suicide, physical trauma and mental trauma than straight people. The statistics are shocking. Furthermore, It’s heartwrenching to know that just because someone’s born differently they are automatically denied basic human rights, such as the right to marry, the right to adopt and the right to have their spouse recognized in the court of law. Add to that the social shame & humiliation that LGBTQ people face every day, with little to no support from their parents & political leaders. No wonder that gay people in India are forced to suffer in silence.
On November 16, 2017, I publicly came out as gay on social media with the goal of changing the narrative around homosexuality in India. I was sick of hiding. Homosexuality is still a taboo topic in India and this has to change. And I’m confident that this change can only begin when India’s LGBTQ community and it’s allies (friends, parents, families, work colleagues etc) speak up and share their inspiring stories with the world.India’s LGBTQ community comprises a beautiful group of sexually diverse individuals. All of the amazing men I’ve met and interacted with in the past few months have come from all walks of life and I’ve learnt that sexuality knows no colour, creed, religion, economic status or profession. All of us deserve the same chance as everybody else & all we ask for in return is the bare minimum- love, support and acceptance. This, however, starts from home. It’s important for every parent to understand the way they treat their children is a direct reflection of themselves. I urge parents to educate themselves on sexuality and gender and start treating their children with love and respect irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation. It is also imperative for school teachers and political leaders in India to unequivocally take a strong stand against homophobia.
My only wish is that in the years to come, human sexuality no longer remains a taboo topic in India so that nobody would have to hide their true self from anyone for as long as I did.
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