17 July 2002

Coming Out - A South-Asian Perspective

I remember my teenage years when I prayed to God and hoped that I would wake up one day and be straight. You see, I was never brought up in the strict religious sense; being a Hindu…

Équipe -Pose ta question!-

I remember my teenage years when I prayed to God and hoped that I would wake up one day and be straight. You see, I was never brought up in the strict religious sense; being a Hindu we had a lot of freedom at least in my household and I really and still do, look up to God. I have a one-on-one relationship with God and I remember being upset with him for making me the “way” I was. Today, I consider myself special and truly believe we are all born that way for a purpose; the answer for which I am still seeking.

I knew I was different by the time I guess I reached puberty. I would never fantasize about girls but guys would arouse me. Yet all through my college years growing up in Bombay, India I tried my best to blend in with the rest of the crowd. I never was really effeminate ever but yet I was supposed to have some girly manners and girly walk. At times I remember being taunted a few times and some of them were downright insulting and demoralizing. So subconsciously I tried over the years to get rid of any such behavioral characteristics and now most folks are surprised when I tell them I’m gay. Now some of you reading this might be upset with me that there goes another gay person trying to act straight but let me tell you one thing, being gay is definitely inborn but certain mannerisms are definitely cultivated. I have seen some of my friends who acted fairly normal but now have adopted screaming mannerisms and hip gay lingo. Nothing wrong with that but remember there are repercussions to everything. You are accountable for who you are as life is not always fair.

But I’m glad that those early times have passed by. Looking back, I went through a strenuous period where I was not really happy with myself and might have even contemplated suicide; something I strongly want to encourage anyone reading this to NEVER think about. Life is precious and has ways of opening up to you slowly. Sure it can be torture at times and it’s easy for others to say “stay optimistic, good things will happen” and to that all I want to say the real key to everything in life is to try to love yourself first. ( I could write another essay on just that but I shall not get into that here)

Through this essay, I hope I can encourage you to “come out”. Trust me though, coming out is not an easy experience especially if you are a South-Asian. The word “gay” is not known to many folks from the older generation, though the younger generation is quite aware of it. I have been glad to have the opportunity to pursue studies in the States and now I’m settled here. That has made things a lot easier for me.

To me, coming out has 3 phases :

Coming Out To Self – This means telling yourselves that you are gay, this is how you will be the rest of your life and nothing can change that. I always thought I was going to have wonderful kids and even though I was gay, I still believed through my teenage years that I can still one day get married to a nice girl and have a family. Eventually I shall forget my attraction towards guys as I will have a lovely family. Though it might be possible for some to achieve this; I truly believe that you have to be honest to your own heart and soul, before you can be honest towards others.

Coming Out To Closed Ones – This one is really crucial and possibly the most hardest one to deal with again especially if you grew up in a culture where being gay is unheard of and not spoken of much as you are faced with the additional burden of educating the ones closest to you of what it means to be “gay.”  My advice – the ones closest to you will love you irrespective of your sexual orientation. But do not accept this to be easy on them. Take your own time and do not feel pressured to “come out” to your parents or closed friends. As you begin to convince yourself that you are going to come out to anyone, it helps to mentally prepare yourself for that, trying to be a good person and being in the good books of that person. This makes the process a lot easier. Let them be proud of you and take pride in yourself. Eventually the process after coming out to close ones can be mind nerving as you can feel emotional blackmail from closed ones and it is truly important again to stay firm and be true to your heart; yet trying to remain sensitive to their emotional needs. Have patience and rewards will follow.

Coming Out To Co-Workers/Friends – For me after coming out to my parents and my sisters I felt I had achieved a significant milestone in my life and after gaining their acceptance I thrived in my personal and professional life. Yet I still remained fairly closeted at work until I realized that I wanted to share my personal life and not lie through questions posed by co-workers such as “Are you married?” (So wanting to snap back – yeah but with a guy and for almost six years now!). Slowly one by one, I have casually come out to a few of my coworkers and it is a great feeling to lead a life on your own terms and demand respect for it.

To just sum up a few things; coming out to your near and dear ones is a truly enriching experience and really helps you lead a much better life. But since being gay is not the usual norm and the fact that you are a minority, it helps to be accommodating to your close ones even though it can be really tough, as it will help you in the long run.

Have fun, stay safe and spread love, not hate and remember you ARE SPECIAL too!