Rishi, in his own words:“I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to see gay men from all across the world sharing their stories. It makes me think of how different coming out would have been for me had I seen something similar, which is why I’d love to share my story with you in hopes that some little Indian boy out there will read it and know it’ll be ok.
Growing up in small-town Texas, I knew I needed to be in New York after my very first visit. I was giddy at the thought of living in a city where I could be myself, an out gay man, and mature as an individual and professional. So in 2008, only a few short months after moving to NYC, I came out to my parents. I don’t regret many (if any) things in my life, but I do regret not telling them in person; I wrote a letter, left it in the car and hopped on a plane back to NY. The months that followed were probably some of the hardest times of my life. Being a first generation Indian-American, there were huge cultural differences in my parent’s view of homosexuality; that it was a choice, unnatural, and I should keep it to myself and not come out because that would be selfish. I remember, within the first 4 months of coming out, my parents flew me home once a month to talk in person about my “situation” and those visits ended up just turning into 48 hours of a screaming match.
But like most things, it all became easier with time. Within a year, conversations were productive, minds opened and guards went down. It’s hard to believe that in the last 5 years, my parents have gone from wanting to send me to a sexual re-orientation camp, to openly telling our friends and family about me and my wonderful boyfriend moving-in together. Just this past week, my Dad emailed me the following when DOMA was struck down: “SC has spoken! Increase in awareness backed by legality. Indeed a landmark decision!”
I’ve always been proud to be a gay Indian man and have never backed down from that feeling in the face of ignorance. But now, with my parents unconditional love and support, there really is nothing stopping me from living my life the way I’ve always wanted and imagined, and for that, I owe them everything.”