Tagged: stories

Štěpán, Student/Publisher, Prague, Czech Republic

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

Štěpán, in his own words: “I remember all the days I spent in bed with my laptop. I desperately needed proof that all the stuff I felt was a real thing. I didn’t doubt my homosexuality. At the age of fifteen I was pretty sure that I was gay. I just felt so alone. I was searching online for what I could not find in real life. I was looking for love because I didn’t see it anywhere around me. Well, I saw a plenty of love except the gay love. I was living with my parents in a small village, so it’s no surprise that I couldn’t find any gay guys. I had nobody to talk to and I felt like gay love was something virtual, something I couldn’t achieve in real life.

However, to me being gay doesn’t mean being alone. I was a lonely gay boy once but these times are over. I still feel lonely once in a while. But we all do every now and then, I guess.

For me, to be gay has more sides. The first side is public. By saying ‘I am gay’ I am making a public statement. These three words mean that I am not hiding, that my life is not in contradiction to my feelings. This is not important just for me but also for the wider group of guys who remain in closet afraid of coming out. This declaration is my strongest weapon.

The other side is more personal, intimate. It’s hiding my more vulnerable self. The one I’m not usually showing to other people. The one which craves for all that things my heterosexual friends had. First teenage love, first dates, first innocent public kiss. And of course those things my heterosexual friends will have. Marriage, family. This face is my inner struggle to believe that I can live a happy life even as a gay man. I don’t feel these doubts often but they are still a part of me, no matter how irrational they are.

So after all what being gay really means for me is being little an activist all the time. Being visible and open about my life.

Luckily a lot of things went good for me during the last year. I moved to Prague. I am studying at a university. My short article in which I incidentally outed myself got published in a national magazine. And I found love (and I lost it but that is a different story). When I look back now I find it unbelievable how things have changed. For the first time in my life I feel like everything is as it should be. I am incredibly grateful for that. But besides being grateful I think I owe something to my younger self. To that lonely young guy who felt so lost. And I’ve found a way how to pay this debt. As I said before — by saying ‘I am gay’ out loud, one can affect a whole community. I don’t want to waste that opportunity. So I’ve decided to publish my own zine about gay men. A zine that would show ordinary stuff which gay guys have to deal with every day.

But this zine would be more than just paying off. I miss an honest image of the gay community in local media. Even the gay media promote prejudice. They are trying to sell so they mostly write about sex. I would like to change that as I feel that showing stories of gay men without making them obscene, without the need to provoke, can positively affect the attitude of the society towards the community.

Back then in the first year of high school I was fighting with my dad a lot. Once we had an awful argument. I remember him saying

“You’ve been so overly emotional ever since childhood. So unnatural.”

I told him that the word unnatural is so hurtful when you are gay.

“Is it true?” he asked me quietly. “Are you gay?”

“Yeah, I am pretty sure,” I said and left the room. Then I didn’t speak to him for a whole month. So from a present day perspective it seems that he was kind of right. I was a drama queen.

But despite the dreadful beginning, my parents never judged me for who I am. For long time we didn’t discuss my sexuality. But that changed when I told my mother how important is for me to share my private life with her and dad. Since then she’s been truly supportive.

Prague actually seems pretty queer friendly to me. The queer community is most visible during August when Prague Pride is held. For the rest of the year the community seems to be more invisible and sometimes even looks like a private party. However, there is a lot of events happening during the year. Nevertheless, Prague isn’t that big, so after some time you feel like you know everyone because you always meet same folks.

If I had to chance to speak to myself at the age of sixteen, I would say “Fuck Grindr.” You are still a boy and these guys will fuck you and leave you. And you will feel like shit. You will blame yourself. You will think you can’t find love. And you will blame yourself again. And even years after that you will still think that it was all your fault.”

Alejandro, Professor, Lima, Peru

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photo by Kevin Truong
Alejandro, in his own words: “Somos personas como cualquier otra, ni más ni menos, nos nombramos políticamente como homsexuales, como gays porque reivindicamos nuestra orientación homosexual, nuestra capacidad de amar, de desear a personas de nuestro mismo “sexo.”

El principal desafío: luchar contra el prejucio propio, de mi entorno y de la sociedad, desafío en el que sigo, porque nuestra sociedad sigue siendo muy TLGBfóbica. Las normas son necesarias pero es indispensable luchar contra el prejuicio cotidiano, contra el prejuciio que se da al interior de las familias y de las escuelas, en el trabajo y en la calle. Ese es el desafío más grande. Las normas sancionarán los actos de discriminación, pero es indispensable generar la condena social contra el prejuicio y las fobias.

Es complicado hablar de “comunidad” gay, mejor si hablamos de ambiente gay, éste es muy diverso en Lima. Oculto y soterrado en muchos espacios, con mucho closet y muy explícito en otros- Mucha violencia entremezclada con la etnia, la clase social y la identidad de género. Las nuevas generaciones son mucho menos prejuiciosas en cuanto a la orientaciòn sexual pero tambien hay mucho conservadurismo y las religiones contribuyen con ello.

En mis años de adolescencia y hasta los veintitantos viví en el closet, cuando conocií a Carlos mi parej fue mi primera salida personal del closet, asumirme y reinvindicando mi diferencia en mi encuentro con el activismo, luego salí del closet con mi familia cuando les comenté que al día siguiente (hace por lo menos 12 años atrás) iba a salir en televisión hablando sobre el matrimonio entre presonas dle mismo sexo y confirmarles lo que ya sabían o intuían que Carlos era mi pareja. Posteriormente las marchas, en el trabajo, con lxs amigxs, etc.

Consejo parafraseando a la Agrado de “Todo sobre mi madre” de Almodòvar: Porque serás más auténticx cuanto más te parezcas a lo que has soñado de tí mismx.

besos y felicitaciones por el proyecto que està fabuldivinregio (fabuloso, divino y regio).”

In English:

“We are people like any other, no more no less, politically called homosexual, because we claim gay as our sexual orientation, our capacity to love, our wish to be with people of the same “sex.”

The main challenge: combating prejudice, my environment and society, challenges that I follow, because our society is still very homophobic. Regulation and policy is necessary but it is essential to combat the everyday prejudices that occur within families and schools, at work and on the street. That’s the biggest challenge. The rules penalize acts of discrimination, but it is essential to generate social condemnation against prejudice and phobias.

It is difficult to talk about the gay “community”, it is very diverse in Lima. Hidden and buried in many areas, with many in the closet others experience much violence interspersed with ethnicity, social class and gender identity. The new generations are much less judgmental about the sexual exposure but there is much conservatism as a result of religions.

In my teens and even twenties I lived in the closet when I met Carlos which was when I first came out of the closet, I assumed and reinvented my difference in my meeting with activism, then I came out with my family when I mentioned the next day (at least 12 years ago) I was going to be on television talking about marriage between same sex persons and that confirmed what they already knew or sensed, that Carlos was my partner. Subsequently marches, at work, with Anarchist amigxs, etc.

If I could give my younger self advice, I’d paraphrase “All About My Mother” by Almodovar: Because you will be more authentic the more you look like what you’ve dreamed of mismx.”

Kevin, Medical Biller, New York City

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

Kevin, in his own words: “The most important thing I’ve come across so far is to allow. For a long time, I was denial about being gay because it wasn’t in my plans – it totally obstructed the life I thought I wanted. But it was true. Unlike every thing that I thought I needed to make my life (and my self) complete – the girlfriend, the traditional family, the ‘being normal’ – me being who I am is true. If being gay is anything to me, it’s the acceptance of your self in a way that isn’t necessarily easy. Getting rid of my old ideals and getting to see myself on daily, moment by moment basis as I am and will become has been unlike anything. With sexuality becoming as political as it has, there often times seems to be risk in that allowance. But I’m seeing that that risk makes it even more fulfilling. To stand for your life and your self when there still is a normal that sometimes stands against you instead of with you, is such an opportunity to build a type of courage that will bode well for any venture you take. Being gay is really one of the best gifts I could’ve gotten, in that way.”

Thomas, Writer, Portland, Oregon

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photo by Kevin Truong
Thomas, in his own words:“Queerness is creativity; it’s curation. There’s an artistry and a poetry required to define yourself by your own terms. If you are told that everything you find to be beautiful or desirable is wrong, a path is forged to a certain freedom, to decide what you think is right, and true. I know that for so many of us this creates a constant anxiety, it can be really draining emotional work. But I know that for myself, it’s what saved me. The liberating revelation that my love and my life were to be entirely my own creation. It’s inspiring.

I didn’t always feel so empowered. I grew up going to Catholic school in the Midwest. When I told my parents I would be attending a demonstration for gay rights at the Kansas State House, my mother–she’s Italian–she grabbed the kitchen counter and burst into tears, repeating, “I just want to have grandchildren.” I was fourteen. Coming out, then, seemed impossible. It would be a part of myself that I would keep hidden, I figured.

I was lucky, though, because it was at my all-boys Catholic high school that I met my best friends: the Gay Lunch Table, we called ourselves. We were young and in this ostensibly repressive environment, but it never felt like that when we were together. We had our own lingo; we made each other laugh. If anyone ever tried to give us trouble, we made a game of it, coming up with unapologetically effeminate ways to make them uncomfortable. We felt tough, and not in spite of our homosexuality, but because of it.

I try to remember that every day. I’m older now, and less afraid of who I am. But it’s a good reminder: let your confidence be a shield. I read a lot of gay authors, try to follow gay artists, and there’s such a resilient beauty that runs through our history.There is both elegance and endurance. I find it very motivating. I feel the power of a family line, like I am from a long tradition of dreamers forced to reinterpret their world. So that’s what I try to remember, and what I try to put into my own work: queerness presents an opportunity to imagine a more beautiful world. Feel the power of that, wear it like armor, and embrace the grace of being gay. “

Ariel, Journalist, Panama City

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photo by Kevin Truong

Ariel, in his own words: “I have never felt guilty or shameful about being gay; however, one of the greatest experiences I faced as a result of my sexuality was letting go of the expectations that society and my family planned for me. Society tries to teach us what is right and wrong, and coming out of the closet is a rebellion against those expectations and rules. You have to learn to live not just to be accepted, but to be yourself. The world out there is a big place and there is a space for everyone.

I came out when I was very young at the age of 14. Being still an adolescent, I had to educate the people around me, especially those whom I loved the most, like my father. This was a big challenge because they had little-to-no understanding of what it meant to be gay: for them, the raunchy, dirty sex acts where the first things to come to mind. Moreover, these were always filtered through a religious/moral lens. They were not immediately able to think of the love and companionship that might be involved in my relationships. Coming out at this age was especially difficult because one depends on his/her parents for everything.

Now I’m glad I came out when I was so young because my family has had many years to process, learn, and get over their fears and prejudices. Today, I live very openly with my family and they are very accepting of my life. For example, when my boyfriend comes to visit from the United States, he stays with me in my bedroom at my father’s house. During holidays, he comes to all of the family parties, and my grandmother even buys him a present. Today, when others see this, they often tell me how lucky I am; however, what they don’t realize is that this level of acceptance took more than ten years.
Panama is a very small country with a very small gay community. Gay people want things to change, but they are too scared to do anything about it. Because of pervasive homophobia in society, many feel that there is more value in staying in the closet than taking the risk of coming out. Moreover, there is a lot of discrimination (gender, race, class, etc.) within the gay community itself. Change is happening, but it is slow and incremental.

To come out of the closet, I wrote a letter to my mother (as I was used to doing at the time to say important things), but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. She talked to my father that the same night and then the nightmare started. They thought I was confused and sent me to a psychologist the very next day. Thankfully, he was a good man and didn’t try to change me.

My mother was upset and did not talk to me for several days; however, I did not pay that much attention to either of my parents because I never thought I was doing anything wrong. After a few days, my mother got over it and soon became my best friend—I could even talk to her about boys. However, in a country where machismo runs strong, there was not much that she could do immediately to change my father. Within the space that she had, she did what she could to protect me. I was lucky to have her by my side.
For my father, it was much more difficult: he was so sure this was a choice and that this was something that I could change if I wanted to change. I could have made things easier for myself just by telling him that I was going to try to change even though I had no intention of doing so. But I refused. I told him that if it was so easy to change, that he himself should try to change his heterosexuality to be attracted to men. We stopped talking and we grew apart. Every once in a while, he would repeat his question, but I always had the same answer.

While most of my friends were out having fun at this age, I was at home grounded because I refused to change. Now, I think about it as a joke, but I was basically grounded for six years with very limited freedom or time to go to parties to socialize with friends. The upside is that I had plenty of time to read, think, and understand my sexuality and what it meant to be gay. This only made me more confident in my ability to combat their homophobia with well-articulated arguments.

Coming out is a continuous process: as we go to our jobs, hang out with friends, shop for groceries, spend time at parties, go to large dinners, we are constantly meeting new people and one never stops coming out. If you are not entirely honest or coy, people will often gossip about what you are doing, so I just prefer to be honest to remove all of their fun.”

Eduardo, Social Media/Educational Projects, Lima, Peru

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photo by Kevin Truong
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photo by Kevin Truong
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photo by Kevin Truong
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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
Eduardo, in his own words: “Ser gay para mí significa entender que todos somos diferentes y que el mundo no es como te lo pintan las convenciones sociales. Es muchísimo más. Es algo que sabemos todos los gays desde que somos niños. Y es una gran lección.

Uno de mis principales obstáculos ha sido enfrentarme a una sociedad tan represiva como la peruana. Pero es lo que me toca y le doy la pelea todos los días siendo yo mismo.

Sigue siendo muy difícil ser LGBTIQ en el Perú pero hay progresos. Creo que la coyuntura de la Unión Civil contribuyó con la visibilidad de nuestro colectivo y además colaboró con la apertura gradual de la sociedad civil en general. Hay grandes desafíos hacia adelante pero las transformaciones sociales toman su tiempo.

Les dije a mis papás que era gay apenas terminé el colegio pero al igual que yo, siempre supieron. Ellos están bien. Solo quieren que sea feliz. Es la misma apuesta que tengo yo en la vida: ser feliz.

¿Qué consejo me daría a mí mismo? Pasa más tiempo con tu familia. La voy a cagar muchas veces y está bien que sea así, pero tengo que aprender de cada error. Se que suena difícil y que el mundo parece un gran problema cuando eres más joven pero me diría que todo va a mejorar. El mundo se ve mejor a los 33. Disfruta de tu vida sin responsabilidades, mientras puedas. Sé una buena persona. Relájate. Dile a ese chico que te gusta. Se feliz.”

In English:

“Being gay to me means understanding that everyone is different and that the world is not only as you paint it in social conventions. It is much more. Being gay is something that we all know since we were children. And it’s a great lesson.

One of my biggest obstacles has been to confront such a repressive society like Peru. But it is what touches me and I have to fight every day just to be myself.

It remains very difficult to be LGBTIQ in Peru but there is progress. I think the situation of the Civil Union contributed to the visibility of our collective and also assisted with the gradual opening of the civil society in general. There are great challenges ahead but social changes take time.

I told my parents I was gay just as I finished school, but I always knew. They are fine. They just want me to be happy. It’s the same desire that I have in life: to be happy.

What advice would I give my younger myself? Spend more time with your family. I’m going to mess up often and rightly so, but I have to learn from every mistake. I know it sounds difficult and the world seems like a big problem when you’re younger, but I would say that everything will improve. The world looks better at 33. Enjoy your life without responsibilities, while you can. Be a good person. Relax. Tell that guy that you like. Be happy.”

Michael and Rob, Canyon Country, California

Michael and Rob, photo by Kevin Truong
Michael and Rob, photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Rob and Michael, photo by Kevin Truong
Rob and Michael, 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
Michael and Rob, photo by Kevin Truong
Michael, in his own words:“Being gay is an attribute like many other attributes, it’s part of who we are, but it isn’t the whole of who we are. Although we, and many others, have faced and overcome challenges as a result of being gay, being attracted to men doesn’t define us unless we allow it. That said, being “gay” is so much more than being attracted to men. Because of the struggle that often comes with it, being gay is to be a master of the heart because you’ve spent so much time repairing your own, being gay means perseverance when everyone is telling you to give up, it means honesty in being true to yourself, it means empathy to those who may have shared your struggle, and it means pride in the value you bring, just as you are, to the community, to your profession, and to your family.

Understanding that I was gay (Michael) took much longer than most and as a result it caused a lot of turmoil in my life and the lives of those around me. Finding a loving, honest relationship, one that feeds my soul and makes me a better person is the single greatest success I’ve realized. I am a very lucky man.

By the time I came out (18 years ago) I had been a leader in the church, I was pre-med, I had been married and divorced, and had experienced such emotional struggles with who I was and who I was expected to be that I simply didn’t want to fight anymore; several times I reached the point that I simply thought that life shouldn’t have to be so hard to live. I had the sense to go get professional counseling, I surrounded myself with people who really did care about me and I got through it. I appreciate my life now so much more because of those hard times and my heart breaks for so many kids that don’t make it through. Coming out is different for everyone and it’s very personal. The key is to remember that life is worth living and you can make it because there are people that want to see you happy, even if they can’t express it the way you need to hear it.

Gays in Canyon Country? I thought we were the token gays here . I really have no idea. We have so many loving straight neighbors that we don’t want for much in Canyon Country. We have our close gay friends that live around the country that we see regularly but in Canyon Country it’s just us and the alpacas; we like it that way I think.

(Advice I’d give my younger self)
a. Calm down, don’t be in such a hurry; spend more time finding yourself and your passions.
b. Don’t be afraid to love – getting it right takes practice,
c. Don’t be afraid to trust-you will be taken advantage of so just get it out of the way now, there are lessons to be learned there,
d. Save more money- growing old with good taste is expensive.”

Alejandro and Ernesto, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Alejandro (left) and Ernesto (right), photo by Kevin Truong
Ernesto (left) and Alejandro (right), 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
Alejandro and Ernesto, photo by Kevin Truong
Ernesto and Alejandro, photo by Kevin Truong
Ernesto, in his own words: “(Being gay) Significa una vida en libertad para vivir tu sexualidad de la forma más natural posible.

La ley de Matrimonio Igualitario que logramos en Argentina fue el desafío más notable que hemos tenido los homosexuales no solo en nuestro querida patria sino también en toda América.

Nunca tuve que salir del placard porque nunca me sentí adentro. Lo que sí hicimos con mi marido, fue iniciar el camino para lograr la sanción de la ley que mencioné anteriormente. La exposición mediática por ese tema, me dio más fuerza y convicción acerca de quién soy y lo que quiero

(The Gay community in Buenos Aires) Muy variada, muy ecléctica. Desde las personas trans hasta los/las homosexuales con aspecto hétero, las diferencias son enormes. Pero podemos ponernos rápidamente de acuerdo cuando hay que luchar por el respeto que nos merecemos solo por ser seres humanos.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) Nunca pierdan las esperanzas de vivir en un mundo mejor.”

In English:

“(Being gay) means a life of freedom to live your sexuality in the most natural way possible.
 
Equal Marriage Laws we achieved in Argentina was the most significant challenge we’ve had for homosexuals not only in our beloved country but throughout America.

I never had to leave the closet because I never felt inside. What I did with my husband we did was to start the way for the enactment of the law that I mentioned earlier. The media exposure for the subject, gave me more strength and conviction about who I am and what I want.

(The gay community in Buenos Aires is) Varied, eclectic. With trans people up to / with hetero homosexual aspect, the differences are huge. But we quickly agreed to fight for the respect we deserve just because we are all human.

(Advice I’d give my younger self) Never lose hope of living in a better world.”

Jose, Journalist, Madrid, Spain

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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
Jose, in his own words: “Being gay should not be anything special. For me being gay does not mean anything. I’m just simply. It is not a value in itself, nor a curse or blessing. It is another feature, such as red hair or as being tall or short. However, I understand and am glad that many people who felt persecuted by their sex lives celebrate their homosexuality with pride, and I like to see people who have not felt persecuted celebrate their sexuality against the intolerance of others.

My greatest success is being happy and being able to create a bubble in which the pettiness and pessimism is out. That is my greatest success over any professional achievements. Apart from that, as a professional, I am proud to have published in the largest newspaper in my country, having written a book, having shot a short film that defined my way of seeing the world.

I did not leave the closet because I’ve never been inside. I have been lucky to have always been who I am. I remember the first time I felt excitement seeing a man was watching Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China.

The gay community in Madrid, and very much the protest and street fighting for the rights of all, is very funny and open to people of all communities. The gay who comes to Madrid, after only a few days, feels born in Madrid. Madrid is a place where anyone who feels persecuted in his small town or village can come and be happy.

(Advice to my younger self) Be patient and work hard.”

Abhijit, Software Engineer, Ankleshwar, India

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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.'”