October is the Coming Out Month and the 11th day of this month is celebrated as National Coming Out Day widely across the UK and the USA.
But I do wonder if we even need such days or occasions to tell people who we are? Or what we feel? Or how do we imagine living our life?
Well, the answer could be a ‘no’ had it been any of the progressive western countries that you admire but the Indian society is yet to accept the rainbow colours completely! In fact, according to a survey, more than 40% of LGBTQ youth reported that the Covid-19 pandemic had affected their ability to express their LGBTQ identity.
Moreover, one-third of them admitted that they were unable to express themselves at home, while nearly a third of transgender and nonbinary youth reported not feeling safe in their living situation since the start of the pandemic.
And, maybe, this is why I’m writing this today — hoping that the ratio of people accepting this ‘our very own yet mostly boycotted clan’ would increase — that there would be less complaints and more lovely stories and people would stop considering the ‘T’ of LGBTQ as minorities or cursed.
These short stories about people coming out to their family and closed friends is an attempt to inspire others and encourage them to confront their loved ones — admit who they are and accept their self worth!
“Sonali, I always knew I was different but I could not tell anybody as I knew nobody would believe that! It’s hard to explain to people who can’t see your inner beings,” shares Sonal who fought with society and even shifted to a different state to find acceptance from the same.
“I would always try to give hints to my family but they would always refuse and ignore it. It was 2012, I was cooking with my mother when she asked me, ‘what is wrong with you, why don’t you socialize, you can’t ignore society if you wish to live with it!’ I was hurt. I’ve been suffering my entire life and no one even bothered to listen to me,” Sonal continues. “And that’s when I told her — with firm confidence that I was not a boy — that I never felt like a boy!”
Sonal recalls all those years during which she had been ignored, not listened out and only scolded, “my mother did listen this time and stepped forward to support me, however, she still could not believe my words. She told my father, sister, and one of my cousins who are working as a nurse. My cousins spoke to a psychiatrist and advised my mother to let me stay the way I was — they still couldn’t believe it and I had to fight with my freedom of expression!”
We live in a society — a homophobic society — and wearing females’ attires or having feminine behaviour is not really expected from a man. But hey, kuch toh log kahenge, logo ka kaam hain kehna!
Despite the fear of getting insulted, Sonal was persistent with her thoughts and asked her parents to support her — this time, none of them was ready to give up. But Sonal continued fighting until a part of the society gave her its acceptance. The fight is still on, she says, and it will be until her last breath!
Debendra Nath Sanyal
“I came out to my best friend (a girl) when I was 21. I was tired of living parallel lives that could not intersect. It was exhausting! Eventually, I came out to my other friends too — some of them distanced themselves from me, but the rest happily accepted me,” shares Deb who is a proud gay.
“I came out to my family at 23 when I was moving out. My mom and my brother were very supportive and dad took some time but now he wholeheartedly accepted the fact that I am gay,” he continues.
For Deb, coming out was one of the most daunting decisions he had to take in his life but as he says, he is happy that he did it, “it brought an end to the mental pressure I lived with pretending to be someone else. Now I am living my life as an authentic self and am grateful to my family and friends for making that space for me where I feel I can be myself.”
Mr. Dhananjay Chouhan
The first transgender student of Punjab University and the founder of Saksham Trust, Dhananjay has to take the way of mythology to convince others. But it was not easy — it has never been!
“My parents were fine until I started wearing sarees. I’ve faced it all — from being called a hijra or chhakka to getting insulted publicly,” says the transwoman who is responsible for the gender-neutral bathrooms to anti-discriminatory cell in Punjab University today.
She believes that society won’t accept you until you accept yourself, “people are always worried about what the ‘char log’ would say. These ‘char log’ are the ones who judge us our entire life and give their shoulders on our last rites. I stopped giving damn to people and I’m happy and content with the life I’m living today!” She is currently engaged to Rudra who is a transman.
Sindhur Kashyap & Spoorthy Sindhur
When perhaps the first lesbian marriage of Bengaluru took place, it wasn’t less than a sequel of any romantic film. But it didn’t happen before a lot of controversies and struggles.
For Sindhur, her parents always knew but never really asked her — neither she ever confronted them. But when Spoorthy confronted her parents, Sindhur also decided to do the same.
What followed after that was a lot of mental and physical abuse and a house arrest for Spoorthy. But the duo did not give up. “We knew we were not wrong and so we decided to fight against it,” shares Sindhur.
They ultimately tied the knots. But it’s been four years and their parents have not spoken to them yet.
“I never came out as an open transgender but from an early age, my parents, friends, and relatives started calling me names. The most difficult part of my life was when I was transitioning, i.e., during my sex reassignment surgery,” shares Naaz who is a record holder beauty pageant. “
“There was an initial time during that transition when I looked neither like a male nor like a female. Society became too judgemental. I was extremely vulnerable since I was on female hormones and it was getting very painful to receive nasty comments day by day,” she continues.
Nonetheless, she never gave up and made the world believe in her and her talent. From surviving rape to taking India to the international level, she witnessed a lot in her life.