Interviewee : Praful
What do you identify as (gay, bi, transgendered, queer – use any terms you like here)?
I do not believe in tags or labels as sexuality is fluid . You can like apples one day and then one fine day discover oranges are better. Currently from many years now, I have been into men – so you can call me gay if need be.
When did you first start to define your identity as such?
I remember back in college, I had a girl friend who almost was by default the closest person who loved me a lot and this was her way of being together, so I went ahead with it in spite of not being in love with her. Then at 21, in my final year of college, I found myself waiting for a chicken legged lanky football captain of our college team to say hi to me or to nod and smile etc. I needed to figure more suddenly being attracted to a guy. I gave it more thought and discovered online chat rooms back in 2000 filled with sex fiends and confused people. Nonetheless I figured that’s what I need to act upon and figure my answer to. Before I knew it, I had broken up with her and was in love with a guy. Ever since I have consciously identified myself as a gay person.
Was it easy or difficult for you to come to terms with your sexuality?
It was difficult for few months but then when the person I loved expired within few months of us planning our whole lives together, I knew nothing can be worse. Coming out or being myself had no trauma there forth and I think its as natural as breathing or having a beard.
Have you experienced first-hand trans/homophobia? If yes, how did you deal with it?
I have experienced more homophobia for the effeminate men within the community whenever I stand by them or with them. I have a simple policy which says “you have a problem. You deal with it”. I only share my thoughts and feelings on the subject mostly – sometimes angry outbursts but more or less under control. I choose to show the mirror to bigots and move ahead. Most straight people around me know that if You laugh at me, I laugh back at you with more logic, wit and attitude. I also tell them that laughing with people is better than laughing at them.
When did you first out yourself?
Oh back in college, after i broke up with my girl friend and exchanged the initial I love yous with the guy i was seeing, I rushed to her home beyond the curfew hours and shared it her using the word Gay for the very first time with my name as she was the closest friend I had at that moment. It was liberating beyond measure
Was it unplanned or was there careful planning involved?
Nah it was instinctive and i like it that way
How did that person react?
She breathed better as she finally understood that we haven’t broken up for anything being wrong between us. Her crying routine stopped but her statement was “Are you sure? It might be just a phase”
Did your coming out change anything about your relationship with them?
Not really. We are yet good friends and I am yet very much in touch with all her family and we meet once in a while, going crazy as always with people yet thinking we are a couple.
Have you ever been outed without your consent? If yes, how did you deal with it?
I am quite a terror and thus people have refrained from mentioning it to me even if they would have been told.
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?
Being Gaysi is as much easy or difficult as being of any other race or culture.
The only bit that could have eased my journey is more awareness on the subject amongst people.
You are part of various Queer groups and work closely with the community. Tell us about it.
Oh well, I believe in speaking up and using all the wisdom and ability I have got for a higher cause. Fighting for 377 ban was a very personal battle but in public domain. That formed my connections with Gay Bombay and Humsafar trust. I just try to have dialogue with one person at a time and share from my heart, the truth about LGBT community. Be it helping and organising Queer Azaadi March in 2009 and 2011 or Imran Khan’s special screening of I hate luv storys for his gay fans or just maintaining my own blog, each has a voice of reason. All of my experiences and initiatives are with people who share the same beliefs in equality, inclusiveness and love. It helps me grow as a better person . It helps me to drop my biases, to understand human psyche better, to push harder and learn more about the subject through these queer groups. I think it is just my way of becoming the person I want to be – one step at a time – more humane.
Would you recommend that people stay in the closet or come out?
Closet is a suffocating place. I would say come out but with wisdom. I maintain a very selective approach. My professional ethics are clear – so at workplace, don’t discuss my sexuality but what do we need to achieve together and in friends circle – unless you want to be in my bed, don’t ask who’s in there?. To those who matter, I am out so these situations don’t even arise.
Have you come out to any family member?
My sister knows it all and so do most of my cousins who matter. As far as parents, I guess I will walk upto them and have a clear dialogue only when i have a stable boyfriend/ life partner.
One Bollywood actor/actress you would love to see coming out as gaysi?
I seriously believe in live and let live but Arjun Rampal- if he says he’s into men I would faint with joy
If you could magically go back to being non-queer, would you do it? Why or Why not?
Your favourite queer-themed movie?
Being a movie maniac I would have a long list but there has to be a tie between – The birdcage and Dostana
Your favourite queer-themed book?
Again being a writer and marketing consultant by profession, I hoarde books but I guess Buddha of suburbia by Hanif Quereshi would be it.