Interviewee : Harish Iyer
What do you identify as (gay, bi, transgendered, queer – use any terms you like here)?
Gay! (100% pure gay <wink><wink>)
When did you first start to define your identity as such?
Not before I was sure myself. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, so linked my sexuality to abuse, so was confused for a long long time. Though I felt sexual towards men, I never acknowledged myself as gay. Finally, I tried having a one night stand with a woman, but it didn’t stand (Aiyooo!) That’s when I realized that I should stand up for what I feel innately without attributing it to anything. I didn’t want to live a life that the world wants me to. I didn’t want to live a lie.
I started acknowledging that I love men. That I am Gay.
Have you experienced first-hand trans/homophobia? If yes, how did you deal with it?
O yes! funnily though, I experienced homophobia when I wasn’t even sure if I was gay. One of my friends spread the word in college about me having slept with a male relative as a child. And rather than seeing it as child sexual abuse, they thought I was a perverted gay. (OMG. I was 7 then) I had graffiti in my college loos that read “for gay sex contact Harish”. I had people teasing me. The moment Id enter the classroom people would start laughing (i know, Bollywood film type. hehehh). I had attempted suicide. I survived. And pet therapy helped me survive. I spoke to my dog. He listened. He licked my tears – literally and metaphorically too. And I started speaking for animal rights, then for human rights, and then for my rights. I, one day, was on the stage, was being mocked and hooted by the audience. I spoke up in the mic, that I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, and yes, I have slept with a man. And the same crowd was mum in the ebb of silence. I smiled and continued my performance.
I took time to actually acknowledge that I am gay. But even before I knew I was, I started speaking up for myself. When I stood up confidently, people stood up with me.
When did you first out yourself?
I used elimination to begin with. I discovered I am no straight, I am no bi.
And then just believed and acknowledged my sexuality.
Well, unplanned. I never used a technique. There is no said formula. Every case is unique.
Who did you come out to & why did you come out to that person?How did that person react?
1st: openly, i came out to my friend Sheetal Kher. She is my bestest friend.So that’s why!
2nd : I opened to my mom. She is my mom, and i am a mommas boy.
How did that person react?
Sheetal: O! she toh was jolly good. Just that if I was straight she and i would be man and wife.
MOM: She was appalled when i told her I “think” i am gay. And threatened that she will throw me out of the house.
But later, when I told her “Mom I AM GAY. And I would not like to ruin a girls life by getting married to her. Mom accepted me. Why she rejected the thought at the first instance? Because, I wasn’t sure myself, and Mom said “why should I support you when you are unsure”
Did your coming out change anything about your relationship with them?
Yes yes. We have become better friends.
There is no “hidden” secrets.. and stress in relationship because they always want to know “what i am hiding”
Have you ever been outed without your consent? If yes, how did you deal with it?
HaHA.. Sheetal outed me in her college. You know the kind of friends who know everything about you. I was deep in the closet. And she decided that I could live life outside it. She was in college then, and she made a project on “gays” and featured me in it, despite my resistance. She said I could deal with it. And well, she was right! I have never felt more free ever before.
And also a television channel <beeeping the name> outed me without my consent. But all this ‘outing’ just helped me. though my case is different. Most people face a lot of psychological issues due to such “breaks of trust”.
How did the people you were outed to deal with it?
Some were cool. Some were super cool. Some were quick to be judgmental. Some left me. Some stuck on. Thank god, I never had to waste my time filtering my friends list.
Do you think being gaysi makes it harder to come out & that if you weren’t part of such a traditional & conservative culture you would have an easier time with your sexuality/identity?
It is as hard as you think it is. You are nothing but a reflection of your thoughts. I am practically out to everybody. No one seems to have an issue about it.
I think I have grown beyond my sexuality.
Would you recommend that people stay in the closet or come out?
It depends. Coming out requires a lot of mental conditioning. Though life out of the closet is beautiful. I think for most “coming out is a process, not an impulsive decision”
Have you come out to any family member?
All. not only me. but also about my spouse.
One Bollywood actor/actress you would love to see coming out as gaysi?
Are you trying to ask me to “out” people?! Well, i would love if atleast Karan Johar speaks out.. and clears the air about his sexuality.
If you could magically go back to being non-queer, would you do it? Why or Why not?
I don’t want to. Because I am happy the way I am.
And straight… ewww.. straight men.. ewwwwwwwwwww! I am into straight bashing. Hheheh. (Not really)
Your favourite queer-themed movie?
La-Mala-Education (aka Bad Education)
Your favourite queer-themed book?
Book??? I don’t read books.