While people were always telling me that I should come out only when I am comfortable doing so and which is true of course, I still found myself procrastinating. There were stages in my life when I was ashamed of myself, to the point that I was unable to open up even in a support group. I was just so embarrassed, that I would confine myself to the privacy of my home and sit through evenings and weekends together. Even after I accepted myself , I was still afraid to come out to my family because I feared I would hurt them or just purely that I would rather take the pain on myself than sharing it with anyone else. While it might sound selfless, it was just plain stupid.
In retrospective, I would never do those things. How about this for a root cause? – “Internalisation of fear and the acceptable views of society that I cast upon myself”. I was trying to live a life which everyone said I should be living. Any talk on sex was always a taboo growing up, so to the point that I thought it was dirty though my body ached and pointed me the other way. I forced myself to behave in a way that I was told to, thus fitting the stereotypical Gender Norms. In a way I lived fearing what the society would think if I were to be the way I was?
Now, I am out to my family and my closest set of friends. Coming out to my parents took the albatross off my back. I can smell the sweetness in the air breathing in and out, that I am left wondering if my asthma symptoms were merely an effect of my hiding in the closet. I used to be afraid going out, with a fear of running into some desi jackass who would at the first point call my parents and tell them. Not any more.
But there is a flip side to the coin too which I am totally okay living with for the present. While my family has reacted quite well and my siblings have been so accepting there are still some pain points. Very recently, in a long discussion with my mom when we discussed a little about my transition and all, my mom advised me not to “tell” anyone else for the fear of the “news” getting out. She thought it was good for her to tell me that I could and should live a life in hiding. I realised this is merely an outcome of them being ashamed of whom I am. In plain words, she just does not get it. As QC[Link] pointed out in her article, it is very much true that the moment I came out to my parents, they went running helter skelter into the closet.
But there is one thing I know that really changed coming out to my family. I know when they meet THAT person on the street the next time, they are going to see them with empathy. My siblings would see that supporting Prop8 was about civil justice with a need for equality and dignity to all humans. My loved ones can see to the fact that I am as smart now as I was before. They will see that discrimination in the workplace or elsewhere is not an option and they need to be vocal about it. I know my nieces will stand up and befriend that individual at school rather than running away from that “other” person. In social discussions and family gatherings, I hope my family and their friends and extended families of theirs will see that they know a person who is different and it makes no difference to them how they look or whom they slept with? While imagining that my parent will share with the extended family is still in doubt, I do hope for the best!
Coming out has been a liberating experience for me and I can see how big it is to the community at large. At an individual level, I figured it was not “Us”, but “them”. The inability to accept one’s identity is your “loved” ones fault, not ours. The least we can do is be Out There and tell them “we are here to stay however tough the road ahead might be”. I totally feel liberated now!
I will leave you with this great video. I liked the ending sections and Kalki’s comments. Its so true and I can only say “Amen” to all of that.[Link]
Confession- waking up this Diwali morning, the first thing I did was watch Kalki’s video on my iPhone. I was in tears and then a sudden surge of optimism in me. I felt empowered and I decided to write this post…