Tagged: india

Aniket, 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.
”

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.
”