I came out when I was 19. I came out because I was always questioned about why I was close to a specific boy.
I come from an orthodox joint family in Kolkata–and it could have been a happy childhood had I been in sync with the rest of my family where everyone was governed by a single rule book. Any variation was an outlier.
Telling my mom wasn’t easy
I told my mom I am gay because it was difficult for me to live a lie. She broke the news to the entire family without my permission. I don’t really blame her because back then we never had much opinion. My cousins–educated and urban–suggested I should be locked in a room and barred from meeting “Rahul” as he was the unwanted influence.
Thankfully my mother was not that unreasonable. She let me complete my education and meeting Rahul was never questioned–though every time we three met face to face I could figure out her subconscious reluctance. It definitely hurts!
I was called “shikhondi” and “ meye-chele” time and again–publicly without realising the impact it had on a six-year-old child! They were unaware, but probably not evil.
However, with changing times, available resources, and my indomitable support for my community she came onboard and realised that I am absolutely normal.
She loves and supports me for who I am
Today she is absolutely comfortable with my sexuality, my life, and my partner–and is probably one of the biggest allies of the community. My whole family supports me. Successfully, I have made them realise that this is how nature made me and society has no right to tag me abnormal.
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I have always spoken about my sexuality openly and that’s my silent movement towards equality. Today I am the pride ambassador at work and I am invited to multiple forums to talk about it. What’s intriguing is the fact that my sexuality which called for me to be locked in room is now the reason why I travelled to London to have a diversity dinner with the Mayor of London! Am I an activist? No I am not–I just live my life being true to myself.
But that doesn’t mean that my challenges ended there
When I started dating Ashraf, I was worried. My mother might have accepted that I was gay, but would she accept my Muslim boyfriend? Would his religion divide us?
Afraid of how my mother would react, for the longest time I told her that he was called Ashu. It’s only when he was on his way to meet her that I finally summoned the courage to tell her that his name is actually Ashraf. The way my mother responded stumped me.
She said: “I have no problem with him or his religion. It’s all in your head.” That day completely changed my life. But the obstacles kept on coming–especially when Ashraf and I decided to move in together.
All we wanted was a home for us, but society wanted our orientation and religion. Nobody was willing to give us a house on rent. This became such a huge issue that we thought we would have to give up. It took a while, but thankfully we found a flat in the end–and we’re living together happily.
In the end, I just want people to know this
Everyday multiple people are committing suicide because they are ridiculed by society, their family, and their own parents. When you are already in a fight with your own body and mind, life gets difficult if your close ones don’t offer support. Stop bullying people! Be more tolerant and let’s save lives.