Gay people in India live a double life and it’s time we talk about its mental health implications

Acknowledging that you identify as gay is one thing. However, it is the stigma that you have to fight that takes a toll on your mental health.
It's time to give members of the LGBTQ community the space they need and deserve. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Grace Bains Published: 6 Jul 2020, 17:03 pm IST
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When it comes to the LGBTQ community in India, most of us know of the social stigma attached to it. People still use discriminatory terms for gay individuals and many refuse to include them in social circles.

However, we haven’t quite gauged the mental harm that this rejection and isolation causes. Most individuals from the LGBTQ community will admit to having to live a ‘double life’ because of how society still views them. The effects of this rejection coupled with the fear of judgment often lead to a negative effect on one’s mental health.

This “double life” propagates fear and anxiety
According to a report published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 60% of LGBQ youth mentioned that they felt so hopeless that they had stopped taking part in certain activities. The same report also mentions that the LGBQ community is twice as likely to go through suicidal thoughts.

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Shrey Joshi*, a professional from the media industry talked, about the absolute depression he went through after he came out to his friends. “My school friends didn’t say anything particular but they just drifted away. This was right after school when everyone is going through a lot of transitions. I felt very lonely for some time.”

He added:

Of course, being rejected by people you’ve grown up with for something as natural as your sexuality when you yourself are trying to make sense of it can be quite difficult mentally. I have come a long way since then so I can talk about it rationally but back then, it felt horrible.

Says Anubhav Sinha*, a working professional, tells us that he isn’t as worried about what the society would say as he is concerned about how often his parents talk about the idea of marriage now that he is in his late 20s.

“I absolutely love my parents and they have been supportive of every decision I’ve taken. However, I am really scared and worried about coming out to them. I don’t know how this will affect my bond with them. I don’t know if they’ll ever be able to accept it. I also know that I can’t hide away a whole part of my life from them forever,” he says.

Indian society makes coming out really difficult
In India, it can be quite difficult to live life as you want. When you’re gay, you’re mentally bogged down by the struggle to live life on your own terms while also having to hide parts of yourself because of the fear of judgment as well as rejection. It can get lonely and confusing, leading to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

The onus, however, isn’t on the LGBQ community but on the society to make the world a more inclusive place where everyone feels comfortable being themselves and don’t feel forced to living a ‘double life.’

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*Names have been changed on request

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About the Author

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book. ...Read More

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