As some of you might have noticed International Coming Out Day just passed a few days ago – a day celebrated every year on October 11th to recognize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual and the issues they face in today’s homophobic society.
While many view ‘International Coming Out Day’ as a day on which the LGBT community celebrates gay pride, many gay guys often come out to their family and friends. At least, that’s the truth in western countries. But, in India, the reality is quite the opposite. About 99% of people in India, which also include members of the LGBTQ community aren’t aware of this day, because coming out as gay, lesbian and bisexual is a struggle one has to address on all fronts – social, economic, and political. No wonder, if our countrymen mostly testify sad coming out stories.
My Coming out Story – The hardest and easiest part of Coming Out
I never had any homosexual desires until my early twenties. After starting to experiment with guys occasionally at the age of 22, I thought it was just a fetish. It took me 3 more years to realize that I was not straight. My sexual journey continued, and I discovered my true sexual orientation. I came to accept aged 26 that even though I was still mostly aesthetically and emotionally attracted to women, sexually I was now more into me men. Today, I feel no shame about my own self-acceptance of myself after coming out to a homophobic, heterosexual woman –my mother.
Around 28, I felt much burdened by this secret. I wanted everyone to know about me, and yet I did not want anyone to know. While regularly visiting a holistic therapy center, I learned new, interesting things. I met some accepting people that suggested me to attend spiritual awakening and self-realization seminars. It was after one such seminar during which I had a 1-O-1 interaction with a mature therapist. I poured my heart out to her; what she said next was the most amazing thing I have ever heard: “I felt a tension, a burden weighing heavily on you. How do you feel now?” I grinned and said, “I feel a lot better”. Without realizing it, I just stepped out of the closet. Whether I came come out as bisexual, or gay, was not important. Being true to “I” was my biggest take away from this experience. This helped me break the silence and tell my mom who I really was. What followed next was coming out to my friends, my colleague, and all those gym buddies. I must say it hasn’t been easy ever since, but it’s worth it.
I suppose the downside of coming out is that I am still close to friends, family, and co-workers who are homophobic. Though I share a great friendship and relationships with them all, sometimes, their stand on homosexuality makes me internalize shame and homophobia within me. But, at least, I am not in denial about myself.
Perks of coming out in India
Coming out for being the process of accepting your sexuality and telling others is very personal. While some find acceptance easier, others experience anxiety, pain, and anguish. Having said that, the word “gay” is something everyone at school knows what it is. In fact, you may find life at school better if you come out and be who you are. Chances are you’re not the only gay kid in the school, but even if you are, there are ways you can get support by making your school more alternative sexuality-friendly.
Reading other people’s coming out stories gave me the courage to live my truth. You never know, sharing your coming out story on social media may encourage others to come out too.
Are you planning to come out at work? If that’s the case, cheer up. There is protection for you as an employee. Post Section 377, many NGOs have approached the Indian government to make some federal laws that can help make the Indian workplace a more comfortable environment.