At Gaysi, till now we have brought you perspectives and opinions from celebrities & well-known figures of the Indian Queer community. And we at Gaysi will forever remain grateful for their time and input. But Gaysi is also about you and me, the regular folks who have a day job and go through the motions of being gay, coming out, seeking acceptance and finding true love. And you make Gaysi Family what it is. Hence, we have started a new series so we can hear from you about the trials and tribulations of being gay and desi. We’d like to get to know you better and this series seeks to do just that. Do let us know what you think about this series in the comments column.
Ranjeet, a finance professional from Pune (India) and a regular columnist at ‘The Queer Chronicle’ (TQC), recently ‘came out’ to his family. TQC caught up with him for an exclusive interview on his experience.
TQC: First of all, bravo! Very few of us would have the courage to come out to our families. I am sure it must have been a tough decision. Could you share with us the circumstances that prompted you to ‘come out’?
Ranjeet: I am 29 years old, have completed my CA and have settled into a career in finance. And that is where the issue starts. Convention implies that I am at the ‘ripe’ age to be married and settle down. ‘Rishtas’ had started coming in and I kept buying time with the typical excuses – I need to have more money, I am not mentally ready yet, etc. etc. You know the routine. I guess the pressure had started to mount. One day, out of the blue, my Mom started this monologue on how a life partner was a blessing, who one should never be alone and then she demanded to know my ‘real’ reason for not wanting to get married. Was I not attracted to girls? The situation took me totally by surprise. I wasn’t able to say a word, as I had never seen my mother so aggressive, ever!
TQC: So whom did you come out to and what was the initial reaction?
Ranjeet: My brother was visiting India from the US. I always assumed that my brother knew or at least suspected so I decided to confide in him before telling my mother. I told him that Mom was really pressurizing me to get married and that I didn’t want to. He was like “Why not” and I said “You know, right?” and he said “No!”
I kept thinking, “What’s wrong with him? Why doesn’t he say, I know that you are gay.” He just sat there looking at me and finally I just said it. “Because I am gay.” And his mouth fell open. I was actually shocked that he hadn’t figured it out already.
Then I explained to him what it meant to be gay, about our lifestyle and why it was not abnormal. He said that he knew all of this and he definitely did not see it as an abnormality. It was just that he didn’t expect it to exist in his family. He went on to assure me that it did not disgust him and that he supported my decision of not wanting to get married.
Next was coming out to Mom, which I think was the toughest thing I ever had to do. The discussion on marriage hadn’t come up for almost a month so I assumed that she had finally given up. Then one day, the discussion started again; this time with an ultimatum – “I’m giving you three days to let me know”.
In my mind I had resolved to tell her if she ever asked me again. Day three passed and my ultimatum ran out. At dinner, she finally asked me again. I thought to myself, ‘it’s now or never”. I blurted out, “Mom I’m gay”. She obviously was shocked.
And then I had to battle with answers to the flood of questions that followed. “How do I know? Have I done it with a girl? Have it done it with a guy? Is it genetic? Who else is gay? Are all your friends gay? Are you just saying this because you don’t want to get married? I think you are very shy and you just haven’t had the courage to approach a girl and ask her out? Maybe we should see a sexologist or a psychiatrist or a counselor? Do you sleep with all your friends? Do you have a partner?” It WAS the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
TQC: What was running through your mind at that point in time?
Ranjeet: My mind was a blank. It is weird talking about the most intimate details of your life with your mother.
TQC: Has there been any change in attitude of your family towards you since you came out?
Ranjeet: Things were pretty strained for about a week after. Mom spoke with a few people and I feel she has really understood what I have shared with her. Things have slowly got back to (almost) normal but there are a few occasions where there is this ‘heaviness’ in the air and I feel my Mom wants to ask me something, but she doesn’t… Other than that, our conversations remain extremely normal. And the questions about marriage have stopped. Although we haven’t discussed my being gay again, I am sure it is always at the back of both our minds. I am going to bring it up again someday. I want to discuss the rest of my life with her. I have a boyfriend and we celebrated our 3rd anniversary together this year and I want him to officially be a part of my family. No more lies, no more excuses. I don’t want to force her into accepting my lifestyle, but I DO want to talk about it. After all she’s one of my closest friends and I have shared almost everything with her.
TQC: Has your life changed in any way after this?
Ranjeet: I guess so. I feel that I have become more serious about my relationship with my boyfriend. It’s a given now and I am assuming that this is going to last forever. I want to make him part of my family. Now I need to work on conversion of ‘my boyfriend’ to ‘my partner’ soon.
TQC: In hindsight, do you believe your decision to ‘come out’ was worth it?
Ranjeet: Absolutely! I think I can now have an even better understanding of myself and my relationship with my family and everybody around me. There are still a lot of unresolved issues but as I said, this is the first step towards the rest of my life and I am glad that I have taken it.
*This interview was first published in the October 2009 issue of The Queer Chronicle*