I am writing this letter because I have something important to tell you and I felt that writing it down would be the best way to do so. Before that I want to reassure you that everything is alright with me. I am perfectly healthy, happy and doing something I enjoy for work. As your daughter, I love you and dad very much and can never be grateful enough for the comforts, opportunities and love you have always provided.
What I wish for you to know is that I am gay. I have known from a very young age and faced the challenge of understanding my sexuality through those years. I want you to know that for a while now I have been very much at ease, secure with who I am and comfortable in my skin. It does not change who I am or who you know as your daughter. It is just another part of me that you are discovering and that I am keen to share for I feel it is important.
You may have many questions – I encourage you to ask me questions about you do not know, seek to understand what you may not comprehend and I will gladly answer them as best as I can. I will not lie, It has not been easy and is almost always a constant struggle to remain true to myself and maybe that reflected as some of the worry you felt you saw these past few years. I want you to know that being honest with you makes me happy and that I need your support, just as much as I will be there for you with regards to whatsoever may concern you. I wish for the same honesty and forthrightness to be reciprocated.
Instinct tells me that you are not completely in the dark. You are my mother and you know me well. You know when something troubles me and maybe even have an inkling about what it is that does so. I understand your hesitancy – I have hesitated about myself for years – so your facing them can hardly be faulted. As a person, I don’t pretend to be otherwise – you may have noticed no boyfriends, no interest in boys and a certain reluctance to accept what is established norm. This is not rebellion or iconoclasm, but a way to create a space where I can be comfortable. Giving into what is hetero-normative would not only be uncomfortable, it would be wrong.
I am sorry that I did not tell you sooner, or had you worried about what was worrying me. But I had to go through the motions of figuring out what this would mean for you if I did tell you and come to terms with it. As I have said before, I am unsure of your reaction and can only hope it is positive and that you respect my decision to tell you. And if it is not, I hope it will be one day.
This is how I told my mom. I wrote her this letter.
Printed it out rather. In a strangely large and odd font. I had just come down to India from the US a few days before the said event. I went upstairs with her one morning. She asked me about what it was that I wanted to tell her all this while because I had hinted earlier through the year that I had something to share and suggested that she tell me when she thought it was a good time for her to hear it. I gave the letter to her. I walked away. Opened the balcony doors. Came back twice to check on her. She read it. Twice over.
It was about 7 am. The longest few minutes of my life.
Its amazing how much you become aware of.
The birds, the religious mantras playing outside, the fan whirring, the rain, the ambient sounds of morning bustle.
When she was done, she got up and placed the letter near the photo of her guruji. There were tears at the corners of her eyes when I passed by her.
I hated everything about myself at that moment. I had made her cry.
I sat down on the swing across from her. She asked me what I meant by gay. I countered by asking her what she understood it to be. We started off discussing homosexuality, heterosexuality, Tran sexuality. I had to clear up many misconceptions – mostly , it is not a choice.We spoke at length, for a long time , what it meant. Throughout the process, she repeated that my father can’t be told and can’t handle it. He still hasn’t been told. I don’t think he ever will be either. I was posed questions, how did I understand it ? Was I mistaken at age 11? What do my friends say ? What do I identify as ?
She listed the many things she noticed about me through the years and wondered about. She asked me why I had behaved a certain way at points of time in my life. I told her it was for her to answer after knowing this part of me. Told her my sister knew. Told her what I wanted or expected – Support, Understanding. She maintained as a mother she could handle a lot. I said my responsibility did not end with telling her. I mentioned books that I had researched and bought for her and read specifically for this purpose that lay locked in my suitcase. I said I would answer any question she had. All this while she was mopping up the kitchen floor which was flooded.
She told me she understood being lonely about something. She accepted it. Promised to support me. Love me. Told me it doesn’t change anything. Kissed me and said everything will be alright and wished me to be happy. That is all she wanted. 8.35 am we finally came downstairs.
Through it all, I maintained my composure. It was hard. At one point my insides were screaming from being rolled into a knot. It was so hard. I had to maintain my calm – I did. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t let her see my tears. Answer straightforwardly – I did. And when it was done. I couldn’t begin to feel the knot unwind. I was hesitant. So exhausted. So so exhausted. Almost as if I couldn’t believe I was done. I still had my mother. She still loved me. I felt pensive, I needed a breather, I told myself to be proud…of myself. I am proud of myself. I just had to feel it.