Tagged: india

Abhijit, Software Engineer, Ankleshwar, India

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Abhijit, in his own words: “To me being gay means just another trait about me. But being gay in today’s society has forced me to question myself and the social conventions and a sense of morality that people take for granted. I am grateful to be gay because, the process of coming to terms with my sexuality and then consecutively coming out to a repressed society has given me an unique unbiased perspective of society and human nature and forced me to have an open mind for everything else as well. I don’t know whether if I had not had the challenges in my life, would I have been the same person I am now.

To me the greatest challenges were not just coming to terms with my sexuality, but to coming to terms with having my own identity. I have always been the one in the shadows, the underdog. I never liked being in the spotlight. But anonymity was a privilege I could no longer afford when I decided to be honest about my sexuality. To be identified and talked about was something I was not used to. Neither was I used to taking decisions on my own. Choosing to come out in my college was the first decision I took on my own against the disapproval of everyone important in my life. And sticking to that decision took every ounce of my will power and the support of a few good friends. I have not regretted that decision even once and am grateful for the support that I got from people, even when they disapproved of my choice to come out. Other than my sexuality, coming to terms with losing two family members impacted a lot on my life and my outlook. The fact that lives are so fragile has made me more grateful for the things I have and encouraged me to make the most of my life with what I have and not compromise on the values I believe in.

I had spent most of my life in denial of my sexuality. I had concocted some of the most creative reasons to explain my ‘abnormality’ and had believed I would eventually grow out of it. But things changed when in college I fell in love with a straight guy. I tried my best to keep my feelings to myself and fooled myself into believing that I just loved his friendship. But I couldn’t hold the charade for long. Eventually I broke down and came out of denial. Once I had accepted who I was I knew staying in the closet was no longer an option. My father had brought me up to believe in myself and be an honest person. That day itself I first came out to my best friend. He was shocked at first but then he effortlessly accepted the fact and just started teasing me. I credit him for giving me the courage to come out to the rest of the people. When I decided to come out to my roommate, I was a nervous wreck. I was scared that he would freak out and tell on me or even throw me out of the room, that other boys in my hostel would come to know about it and maybe I would be beaten up or maybe the college authorities would come to know and I could get thrown out of college and then would probably get thrown out of home as well. Despite my fears I came out to him….the result was quite amusing.

He was laughing in shock, and I was laughing in nervousness. At the very moment one other friend came in and my roommate asked me to tell him the same thing which I did, and that guy ran away. He just ran away!! My roommate went up to him and confronted him, he explained that this was not an abnormality and that they needed to trust me and believe what I told them because I was not an idiot and we had been friends for so long. I was ashamed for thinking that he could ever have hurt me when he had been the most supportive guy. I came out on Facebook a few months after that. Partly I did it because I was tired of having to pointedly avoid conversations about girls and relationships. I didn’t want to lie to people and avoiding seemed like running away. I also wanted people to stop assuming stupid misconceptions about homosexuality and they could see a gay person amongst themselves and realize I was just as normal as anyone. And one other reason was that I knew I had to come out to my family one day and there was a chance that I would be emotionally blackmailed to go back into the closet. This was a way to make sure that would no longer be an option. After coming out I was pleasantly surprised when almost all the boys of my batch living in the hostel came to me one by one and told me they supported me no matter what my sexuality was and that they would back me up if ever I had to face aggressive people. I had few homophobic experiences but they were outnumbered by the instances of acceptance and faith I had.

Coming out to my dad was also nerve wrecking, but that’s a long story. In short he thinks its a perversion and believes I will change one day, but he didn’t change his behavior towards me even slightly. I still remain the apple of his eye and that’s more than I can ask for. Coming out is a lengthy process and continues throughout life, I still have to keep coming out to people as I go on with my life. But gradually it becomes easier.

I don’t think I have enough authority to comment on the entire LGBT scene in India. But basically there are two kinds of people, one who attend Pride marches and fight for LGBT rights and another that can only be seen on Grindr and other such apps. A majority of the community still believe in having a straight marriage to save their family’s image in society and they treat their own sexuality like a bad habit similar to drinking and smoking. But there are also many who are fighting the odds and trying to make the world a safer place for the community. The third gender or hijras as they are called constitute a completely separate community of their own in India and is as old as the ancient times. They have been key members in fighting for the social good, but they also have some issues regarding freedom in their own community which has developed a culture of their own separate from the rest of the society.

If I had to say anything to say to someone facing the same issues I did once I would say, ‘Don’t stop questioning. If you don’t find the answers keep looking for them. But never accept anything just at face value. No matter how many hardships you face don’t stop thinking rationally. And don’t deny yourself from having fun when you have the chance.'”

Aniket, Student, Mumbai, India

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Aniket, in his own words: “The time was magical when I had started unknowingly noticing the beautiful men around me, they were always there but something good had changed in me. It was neither a secret nor something I wanted to share with everyone; the experience was too personal for me. Probably it is the same for all the teenagers.

Eventually when my friends started to share similar experiences, I could not completely relate to them. I started slowly unfolding the fact that I was not attracted to women but I was too young and naïve to speculate the ongoing experiences.

I can say today that I was always different while growing up than most of the kids; but it was the time I had started feeling the difference.

Around the same time, I had to go away from home for studying in another city. It was challenging to juggle life without family and the unarticulated secret; I could clearly see the projection of it on my academic performance.

The chaos around my sexuality and poor academic performance were pushing me into my hardest years, I was diagnosed with depression. Nothing seemed so blurred and heavy before, I thought I would be sucked into it. Pretending that the cause of the misery was not the unarticulated sexual attraction but the poor academic performance, I confessed about the depression to my parents. With family and medical support, I could get out of the depression to an extent. I had completely locked the doors of my sexual dilemma and I had focused on my academic performance, fortunately I could make it to the desired university that year.

I never could articulate my own sexual behavior as I had never seen or read anyone like me when I was growing up so ‘coming out’ was never into the picture for me. Apart from chaos around my sexual behavior, I knew that I was different (in a shameful way) so I was scared even thinking about it. Watching gay porn for twenty minutes in a day was the only time; I had to confront the truth. 


In the first semester at the university, an article written by a student talking about his homosexuality went viral. It was first time someone had spoken so loudly about his/her sexuality, everyone did not seem very receptive at once but this event was going to change the lives of many like me. I sneaked the newsletter in my room and read it making sure that no one caught me reading it. This was the first time someone had told me that I was okay and there were people like me in the world. I was thrilled to read it but afraid to face it. The same guy who had written the article had founded an LGBTQ resource group in the university campus with the help of a few professors and students. (It was one of the first LGBTQ resource groups in any Indian universities). The resource group was creating a positive space in the university and I was accepting myself bit by bit every day.

Almost after two years in the university, I met a fellow student on Facebook and we started dating. When we kissed for the very first time (yes, my first one!! ;)), I confronted the truth nakedly and told myself that there was no way to go back from the truth. It was just a month after that I had told my parents, my friends and the life seemed much lighter after taking it off my shoulders. (And I also volunteer for the LGBTQ resource group in the university from last two years!! yay!)

Mumbai is the most cosmopolitan city in India and yet most of the people in Mumbai do not even acknowledge the fact that homosexuality is part of the society around them. Homosexuality is not very visible in the crowded city; everything is behind the curtains here. Before the internet era, secret cruising spaces were the only way to meet other guys. Currently, Internet is providing safe space for all queer people to explore the possibilities.

The exposure to the liberal western policies regarding queer issues through social media is helping the younger generation of India to acknowledge and accept the queers around them.

Despite the fact that the post-colonial law against homosexuality still exists in India, there are a few organizations which are working hard to address the queer issues in Mumbai/India to normalize the stigma related to homosexuality. In response to it, Mumbai has the largest gay community in India which indulges in different events like yearly LGBTQ pride, queer film festival, protests and obviously parties.

I am very lucky that I am one of the very few people who have got the opportunity to be open about their sexuality in India. In a country like India where homosexuality was de-criminalized in 2013, merely living here openly as a queer person is considered to be heroic. With this privilege, I feel the responsibility to help the younger generation to be comfortable with them.

I have gone through the phase where I used to hate being gay but today, I say that it is one of the best things that happened to me. It was not the easiest time while dealing with sexuality but the time has shaped the way I think today. Most of the beliefs, I had been raised with were challenged and reformed on the way. I think my sexuality has been a spiritual accelerator which has helped me to understand my own depths.

As I said earlier, sexuality was one of the pioneering things which taught me to challenge my unjust beliefs, I am continuing on the path of restructuring my beliefs to make myself more comfortable in my own skin and in the world around.

And advice to my younger self: Be authentic to yourself.
”

M, Academic, New Delhi, India

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
M, in his own words: “I moved from one of the tiny corners of India to the capital, Delhi, nine years ago. This place has given me the opportunity to discover myself, to find friends, loved ones, and I am lucky enough to have been part of both queer academia and activism. Though I am out to almost all my friends here, I chose not to do so to my family and at my workplace. India is still a conservative country that still criminalises gay sex. It is risky being gay here but far better than many of the fundamentalist, homophobic nations. In the last many years, I have seen amazing change at an amazing pace in the way the LGBT movement has taken place in India. Owing largely to the rise of the internet and social media, things are changing at a lightning speed for the better. Now even school-going kids can talk and discuss about their sexual orientation on social media anonymously or otherwise which was unimaginable when we were in school. I have tried my best to reach out to other queer folks from different backgrounds in the capital city and have sensitized enough number of people and will keep doing so.

But being away from home and being all by yourself in a big city comes with a price. Especially when you spend your childhood in a lovely city full of natural beauty and primarily an agricultural economy where life was much more simple. While fighting homophobia has become my social responsibility, I fight urban loneliness on a personal level day and night. While my friends and well wishers keep my spirit up, I am still waiting for my prince charming who will marry me. I don’t care whether he comes on a white horse or an Aston Martin. He should come as soon as possible.”

Abhijit, Software Engineer/Consultant, Akleshwar, India

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Abhijit, in his own words: “To me being gay means just another trait about me. But being gay in today’s society has forced me to question myself and the social conventions and a sense of morality that people take for granted. I am grateful to be gay because, the process of coming to terms with my sexuality and then consecutively coming out to a repressed society has given me an unique unbiased perspective of society and human nature and forced me to have an open mind for everything else as well. I don’t know whether if I had not had the challenges in my life, would I have been the same person I am now.

To me the greatest challenges were not just coming to terms with my sexuality, but to coming to terms with having my own identity. I have always been the one in the shadows, the underdog. I never liked being in the spotlight. But anonymity was a privilege I could no longer afford when I decided to be honest about my sexuality. To be identified and talked about was something I was not used to. Neither was I used to taking decisions on my own. Choosing to come out in my college was the first decision I took on my own against the disapproval of everyone important in my life. And sticking to that decision took every ounce of my will power and the support of a few good friends. I have not regretted that decision even once and am grateful for the support that I got from people, even when they disapproved of my choice to come out. Other than my sexuality, coming to terms with losing two family members impacted a lot on my life and my outlook. The fact that lives are so fragile has made me more grateful for the things I have and encouraged me to make the most of my life with what I have and not compromise on the values I believe in.

I had spent most of my life in denial of my sexuality. I had concocted some of the most creative reasons to explain my ‘abnormality’ and had believed I would eventually grow out of it. But things changed when in college I fell in love with a straight guy. I tried my best to keep my feelings to myself and fooled myself into believing that I just loved his friendship. But I couldn’t hold the charade for long. Eventually I broke down and came out of denial. Once I had accepted who I was I knew staying in the closet was no longer an option. My father had brought me up to believe in myself and be an honest person. That day itself I first came out to my best friend. He was shocked at first but then he effortlessly accepted the fact and just started teasing me. I credit him for giving me the courage to come out to the rest of the people. When I decided to come out to my roommate, I was a nervous wreck. I was scared that he would freak out and tell on me or even throw me out of the room, that other boys in my hostel would come to know about it and maybe I would be beaten up or maybe the college authorities would come to know and I could get thrown out of college and then would probably get thrown out of home as well. Despite my fears I came out to him….the result was quite amusing.

He was laughing in shock, and I was laughing in nervousness. At the very moment one other friend came in and my roommate asked me to tell him the same thing which I did, and that guy ran away. He just ran away!! My roommate went up to him and confronted him, he explained that this was not an abnormality and that they needed to trust me and believe what I told them because I was not an idiot and we had been friends for so long. I was ashamed for thinking that he could ever have hurt me when he had been the most supportive guy. I came out on Facebook a few months after that. Partly I did it because I was tired of having to pointedly avoid conversations about girls and relationships. I didn’t want to lie to people and avoiding seemed like running away. I also wanted people to stop assuming stupid misconceptions about homosexuality and they could see a gay person amongst themselves and realize I was just as normal as anyone. And one other reason was that I knew I had to come out to my family one day and there was a chance that I would be emotionally blackmailed to go back into the closet. This was a way to make sure that would no longer be an option. After coming out I was pleasantly surprised when almost all the boys of my batch living in the hostel came to me one by one and told me they supported me no matter what my sexuality was and that they would back me up if ever I had to face aggressive people. I had few homophobic experiences but they were outnumbered by the instances of acceptance and faith I had.

Coming out to my dad was also nerve wrecking, but that’s a long story. In short he thinks its a perversion and believes I will change one day, but he didn’t change his behavior towards me even slightly. I still remain the apple of his eye and that’s more than I can ask for. Coming out is a lengthy process and continues throughout life, I still have to keep coming out to people as I go on with my life. But gradually it becomes easier.

I don’t think I have enough authority to comment on the entire LGBT scene in India. But basically there are two kinds of people, one who attend Pride marches and fight for LGBT rights and another that can only be seen on Grindr and other such apps. A majority of the community still believe in having a straight marriage to save their family’s image in society and they treat their own sexuality like a bad habit similar to drinking and smoking. But there are also many who are fighting the odds and trying to make the world a safer place for the community. The third gender or hijras as they are called constitute a completely separate community of their own in India and is as old as the ancient times. They have been key members in fighting for the social good, but they also have some issues regarding freedom in their own community which has developed a culture of their own separate from the rest of the society.

If I had to say anything to say to someone facing the same issues I did once I would say, ‘Don’t stop questioning. If you don’t find the answers keep looking for them. But never accept anything just at face value. No matter how many hardships you face don’t stop thinking rationally. And don’t deny yourself from having fun when you have the chance.'”

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, Rajpipla, India

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong

Prince Manvendra, in his own words: “Being gay to me means happy. And I’m very happy being gay, and I am very proud to be gay, and I would tell this to other people who are gay around the world.

(Gay India) has to get independence. Though India got its freedom in 1947, I think gay India is not yet free. We need our freedom—freedom from stigma and discrimination in our country. And we need to get rid of the colonial law that was imposed by the Britishers when they were ruling India. We have gotten rid of the Britishers, so then I think we should get rid of the law also.

There is a huge gay community (in India), in India if you talk about population in itself we are in billions so even if you take a conservative percentage of say five percent, still I think the gay population would be millions. My coming out story happened in 2006 and basically I was not happy with the hypocrisy prevalent in our society where in the society was not willing to accept the reality of what is the truth. And I could not live the life of a lie, and that is the reason I openly came out as gay and happened to be the world’s first openly member of a royal family to come out as gay. And thereafter I knew that it would definitely have a big impact on the society because it has not been spoken about, it has always been a taboo in our country. We don’t discuss it with the educational situations. So I wanted that more people should talk about this, there should be more arguments on it, or discussions on it, and that’s where we can bring about any type of acceptance in society.

I think my hope for India is to gain the confidence of the world, and India has to survive in this world if it’s to be a part of it. Then I’m sure one of these days India will have to reconcile and come to terms with the reality and have a mindset which will try and accept us for the way we are. I think the biggest strength of India–if I talk about religion–Hinduism is the majority in our country and Hinduism has been quite liberal with regards to homosexuality. We have gay gods and lesbian goddesses. And we have a transgender community in India which is very strong which worships a goddess which also has a lesbian origin. So if you see our history, our culture, everything is kind of favoring homosexuality because I think in India homosexuality has been existing since much before the Muslims or the Christians invaded our country. So I think that this is one of the biggest strengths we have. When the hypocrites say we imported homosexuality, I would say (the opposite), we exported homosexuality to the other countries.

I think my biggest success was to come on the Oprah show. Because Oprah gave me a global platform. All around the world I got invitations coming to visit different countries, different events, and that’s how I could travel all over the world and meet different people, not just from the community but political leaders, people from the courts, the judges, the government officers, media, religious leaders, all people across the world and try and mainstream (being gay). My whole issue is how we can mainstream homosexuality in our society, and I think the biggest challenge which I’m facing right now is hypocrisy. And I’m a warrior, I was meant to fight, my ancestors used to fight the wars, I’m fighting hypocrites.

My advice to the young children is to get the right education, get the right awareness, on any subject whether it is dealing with homosexuality or anything. Education and awareness according to me are the key issues which will bring about acceptance on any issue.”

A Note From Abhijit, in Assam, India…

I am Abhijit, 22 year old gay male. Born on JAN 6, 1991. I am currently a student of Mechanical Engineering and shall graduate next year.

Homosexuality, in India, is not a topic that family discusses over dinner. It is something that doesn’t happen in normal life. You hear about it and comment on it but rarely do you need to face it. People have a black and white view on gender and sexuality issues, either you are a man or a woman, the rest is all messed up. The closest issue is the intersex community, the ‘Hijras’, that common public has to face in overcrowded trains, demanding money in exchange for blessings. Most people shell out their money not wanting to associate long with these ‘disgusting’ people. It is a sorry state for them that this is the means of earning for most of the intersex community. Being ostracised and ridiculed by public, they have mostly accepted this way of living and flaunt around their ‘abnormality’ and extort money in exchange of leaving you alone.

People don’t see the LGBT people in any different light, they all mean one thing, that the person has no moral sense and has given up on all things natural, he/she is a deviant who can not be part of any normal society. But thank God! This kind of mentality is diminishing gradually, and people are being more rational in dealing with such situations.

Being Gay in India, I had never come across another person like myself i.e gay. So it was a hard enough time trying to understand why I was different from other boys? When my friends were busy ogling girls, why I never felt the same way about them? Many a times I caught myself admiring boys and seniors…but shrugged it off. I had little concept that something as Homosexuality existed.

As I grew this attraction towards boys increased and I found myself getting off on fantasy scenarios involving guys. I was disgusted and crestfallen, and as much as i tried to ‘cure’ myself i just slipped into denial. I started researching on my condition and used the Net in it’s full scope. Finally after 8 years of struggle and denial I suddenly decided to one day just to accept it. The first person I came out to was my best friend, who initially was shocked. But then simply in his usual manner shrugged of my anxiety and started teasing me…just like that he accepted it without question and for the first time I felt so confident and free! After that I told my room mate, he was speechless and quite confused as how to react, but when i told my other friend in the Hostel he just ran away! My roommate talked to him and explained that I was not an idiot, that to say such a big thing would mean that there was something in it and that being friends they should support me. I realised that day I had really good friends who I underestimated. When I told my sister, she was totally shocked and tried to convince me that I was not. But after a few weeks of discussion she decided that I was not ‘confused’ and told me that she was always with me no matter what.

It took another year for me to work up the courage to come out in public, I had plans to Graduate, get a job, leave India and be someplace where I could be me. But I didn’t want to run away and hide like a coward. I didn’t want my sexuality to determine my future. I want a good job after graduation and whether or not I want to leave India is my personal decision. I won’t do it just to ‘be myself’. I love my country and my family. I have my responsibilities to them. I will not shrug them off just like that. Plus, people are ignorant about sexuality issues because they don’t come across any openly gay or lesbian people.

So one day I just decided to come out on Facebook, without consulting anyone. And living in a Boys hostel, doing that was complete social hara-kiri. My friends tried to convince me to remove my update. They were worried of its effect on my life and theirs. But I was adamant. There was an uproar for a few days, it strained my relation with my friends too. Because they too came under fire for associating with me. But many people came to tell me that they were happy for me and would be there if I needed any protection. My friends stood up for me and dealt with most of the questions and accusations but never let go of me. I was proud and happy for having such friends. Many started avoiding me and when I went out there were always stares, whispers and comments. The first few days was a great struggle to go to the classes too, but I was determined to keep things as normal as possible. Gradually people got over the shock and came to terms with it and treated me like any other day. No one was ‘homophobic’, just a little ignorant and misinformed. By coming out I gave permission to them to study me and judge me and to realise that I’m just any other normal guy, special because of my simplicity, not sexuality.

They now all know a gay guy, so if in the future any of them know a sibling or a child who comes out, they won’t have to face going through the shock, they will more or less understand that it is not what completely defines a person. They will be able to treat him/her with respect and love, not ignorant, hatred and despair. Now my sexuality hardly matters in my college. I have been tagged the ‘Gay guy’, but with the exception of a handful of people, no one treats me any differently because of it. I will forever be indebted to those people who stood by me and set the examples of tolerance and understanding.

I still haven’t come out to my Father. But I will, I don’t want to break his heart, but it is not something that should. The rest is upto him. I hope he will understand.