For those of you who have been reading the trials and tribulations of Razorsharp Rolzie during the past two weeks, today’s post is a sharp departure from the usual light banter about the Pandus in my life and my eternal pursuit for the elusive Mr. Right. This post is about acceptance, coming out and the whirlwind of emotions that in encompasses.
Gaysis and my closet Romeos, a lot of you have written back and appreciated (or claim to have appreciated) my looking at being queer from a humorous/sarcastic/scathing perspective. Nonetheless an e-mail from a stranger in distress set the contents of this post in motion. Gaysis worry not, the unusually bitchy Razorsharp Rolzie promises to regale you next week but for now it is a slightly serious post that you’ve got to deal with.
It all started exactly a week ago when this teenage boy, let’s call him ‘Young One’ wrote to me and shared rather candidly his fears about being gay. A few follow up mails later; I realized that Young One needed a friend, someone to just hear him and having been at the same spot a while ago, I was compelled to reach out to him. This all lead to recounting my own coming out experiences and at the end of our two hour long conversation, it saddened me that Young One felt that coming out wasn’t ever going to be an option for him. In his mind, he was destined to live in a South Delhi closet for the rest of his life. The tirade of tears, coupled with anxiety made it difficult to reason with Young One over a phone call, so I wrote Young One a mail three days ago.
Young One, the only reason I am sharing this mail (after masking your details, so breath easy. I will always be your confidant) is because there are a million teenagers out there that are going through the exact experience that you are facing and I want them to realize that it does get better and that each one of us has our own demons to confront. So here fellow Gaysis is the candid piece I wrote. I don’t know if it will resonate with you but on a personal level, this exercise of penning down my thoughts over being gay and the constant turmoil of coming out to family and strangers was highly cathartic.
Dear Young One,
I am glad we spoke the other night. I acknowledge and do empathize with each of your fears. Yes, you are right some people do view being gay as a sexual perversion. A sign of moral turpitude, a sin, an abnormality and yes, shockingly some of these extremely hurtful and ill-informed views are shared by our closest friends and family. I agree the stereotyping doesn’t make things any better either.
I know that the bigotry does run deep and is hard to cope with, especially when you are young. I felt the same frustration and woke up each morning with the gnawing pain that I was different/weird/abnormal. At times, the difference made me feel weak in my knees. I hated myself, indulged in self loathing. I too at times wished I could be ‘normal’ and be just like the other boys, be the jock in school and date the prettiest gal rather than hide and be ashamed of my secret desires over some jock. The craving to merge in seamlessly rather than stick out like a sore thumb was all pervasive and you are not the only one who feels this way. But you know what, as you grow older you will learn to love this difference and people will celebrate this very facet which makes you so special and different from all and sundry. Trust me, the prettiest gal may never be your wife but will be one of your closest friends. Its true, gals really do love boys who love boys and you what is infinitely even better, some fantastic boys (the kind that you and I harbor secret crushes on) really do love other boys. There will be that someone special out there waiting for you. So breath easy and look forward to the endlessly opportunities that await you. It’s way too early to give up Young One.
Young One, you are right, internalized homophobia is real and I was the poster child for it, coz I dated women, had a number of failed relationships and kept living a lie and a life of deceit. I was being untruthful not only to the world around me (my family and closest friends included) but especially to myself. At the end of it, needless to say, I was always at a void. Young One, deep down inside we all know how we feel and what we desire. I was running away from the truth for a long time and was constantly falling into the heteronormative trap that was familiar, comfortable and accepted. Young One please do not make the same mistakes I made. You may think that these games will help in fooling others but be warned, you are only fooling yourself. You may date a million women to please everyone and gain acceptance and then find some flaw to justify the failed relationship but you will never give yourself the chance to enjoy a relationship with someone you really want. Do not deny yourself a chance at love, just to make others happy. I have done this for the longest time and I really wish I could undo the tides of time. Don’t live with that regret. It’s not worth it.
As you grow older you will realize your greatest source of happiness is undoubtedly yourself. You must find the courage to be at peace with yourself and embrace who you are. Young One, you know the answer to these questions deep down inside. Just have the courage to hear your inner conscience. Being gay is OK and there is nothing you can do to change it. It’s the way you are wired and there is no reason to change something that is so fundamental to you, the fiber of your being. Why should you ever want to change that about yourself? So please don’t waste your precious years trying to fit into a box which doesn’t accommodate who you are. This is your life… make it special, live it large and live it with honesty. I have wasted way too many years living this lie and I do not want you to have to do the same. As I look back, coming out in my mid twenties was stupid, I missed out on so many wonderful years and relationships. I should have come out years ago.
Young One, you will know when the time is right. Your gut will tell you and when it does, do not suppress that voice which is dying to be heard. Let yourself free.
Coming out is going to be tough and I will no tell you that it will be a bed of roses. At least that’s my experience but hey, there are a million different experiences out there. But having said that, trust me it will be better than what you anticipate. I was petrified to have this conversation with my mother and I kept pushing it back for days citing some excuse or another. I thankfully had wonderful friends who pushed me into having the dreaded conversation and guess what, I may not have got “Yeah, you’re gay” but instead heard her say “Beta, this is your life and it’s your choice. Be warned, it won’t be easy”. Not a bad start at all. Yes, I did want more than just acceptance. I wanted to be told that I would have her walk with me through this journey and be offered unconditional support. May be, I was expecting a lot. May be, the man I am with is never going to get the same treatment as a daughter in law would have. May be, I am never going to be able to deal with my homophobic bother’s opinions and bias. But you know what, Young One you do need to come clean. Having the conversation lifted the weight from me and I did become more at ease with myself. Young One, even if he conversation doesn’t go well, remember this is tough for your parents as well. They will come around and it may just involve your having to work on it constantly. But hey, even if they don’t come around, this shouldn’t stop you from living your life. You will find an alternative support system which cherishes you for who you are. And guess what, those are the people whose opinion you should worry about. Not random strangers who will call you derogatory names. Screw them!!
Lastly, this is your life. You decide who needs to know you are gay and who doesn’t. I am still at a stage where only my closest friends know I am gay while others speculate and conjecture. Having said that, since you asked, I feel it is entirely your personal life and just like straight people don’t announce their sexuality to the world, you don’t have to spell yours out to anyone as well, unless you want to. Each one of us has multiple identities and sexual orientation is only one of them. I see myself as much more than being just a gay man. Yes, it is a critical facet of the person I am but in no way an identity that suppresses all others aspects that make me the person I am. You need to figure this one out and may be a few years from now; you can share your insights with me. That would definitely be fun and I look forward to it.
Young One, please remember you are not alone. There are a million people in this world who are just like you and me. Yes, some of us are in hiding, some in denial while some are brash and outspoken. Yes, some wear mascara and love to dress in drag and some of us are just have no sense of style or clue about fashion. But, I know that you will figure this all out soon enough and then we shall go paint the town red and no, we don’t need to go to a seedy gay bar. We shall go to your favorite bar, get you your Cosmo (that really is a gay drink;p though I have precious little locus standi when I love my Bellini) and dance the night away.
Until then, hang in there. Keep the faith.
Lots of love,