Interviewee : Gautam Yadav
What do you identify as (gay, bi, transgendered, queer – use any terms you like here)?
When did you first start to define your identity as such?
I was in 4th grade when I began to feel I was different.
Was it easy or difficult for you to come to terms with your sexuality?
Have you experienced first-hand homophobia? If yes, how did you deal with it?
Yes, when I was in 8th Standard, my classmates would pull my cheeks and call me a girl. Once, in front of 70 students in the school bus, I was called a hijra. I felt so bad that I dropped out of school completely. I was depressed for a long time after that.
When did you first out yourself?
At the age of 17 to my father.
Was it unplanned or was there careful planning involved?
Who did you come out to and why did you come out to that person?
First to my father and after that the rest of my family. And I came out because I didn’t want to live dual lives and I knew what I am and didn’t want to hide myself. I thought about who was closest to me and who would support and understand me. I knew that my father would be that person.
How did that person react?
My father was quite okie with it. He said to me “Don’t worry, just Khao pio aur khush raho. Don’t take tension, your father is always be with you.” But when I came out to my mom and sister, they were angry with me. They said,“Yeh sab galat sangat ka asar hai”. And they said I should leave our home forever. They also feared that if Transgenders/Hijra would find out that I am gay then they would take me with them and make me like them.
Did your coming out change anything about your relationship with them?
In the beginning when I came out they were angry but currently they all are fine with it. However, my mom still thinks that this is a disease and one day I’ll become normal. (Straight)
Have you ever been outed without your consent? If yes, how did you deal with it?
Yes I have. I spoke sternly with the person who outed me. I ignored the catcalls made by others and if anyone asked me upfront, I didn’t deny the fact and told him it was none of his business.
Do you think being gay and desi makes it harder to come out and that if you weren’t part of such a traditional & conservative culture you would have an easier time with your sexuality/identity?
Yes. Our culture makes it very difficult. In Rural areas, the concept of male to male relationships is only confined to secretive sex. Society has no definition and understanding of an emotional bond between two adult men. Thus, we are forced to make all our decisions based on what society and relatives think and society is still not bold and open enough.
Tell us about your role at Humsafar Trust?
I work with Humsafar Trust since November 2009 as an Advocacy Officer. I work in various arenas along with media, police, Lawyers, educational institutes and corporate entitities. I organise sensitization workshops for section 377, Homosexuality and HIV/AIDS. Right now we are working on a project called Sandesh 2011 where we organised a play named ‘Ek Madhav Baug’ which is about the turmoil and mixed feelings a mother goes through when she realises her 21 year old son is gay. In this story, he comes out to his mother and she supports him and loves him the way he is.
Would you recommend that people stay in the closet or come out?
I’ll not recommend people to come out or stay in the closet because everyone should make their own choice. Some people are comfortable with being out. And some people are not fine with being out to anyone because they always fear how they will face society, relatives and friends. As for me, it was very relieving after I came out and despite my family’s objections it felt liberating that they knew the real me. But one thing I’ll definitely recommend is that if they know about their sexuality then they should not opt for marriage with another girl. Don’t spoil a girl’s life. If they are sure they are bisexual, then too they should be true to themselves and not have a secret gay life outside marriage.
One Bollywood actor/actress you would love to see coming out as gaysi?
Shahid Kapoor and Ranbeer Kapoor.
If you could magically go back to being non-queer, would you do it? Why or Why not?
No, I am happy being gay and I never want to be non-queer because I’m happy that I’m different from others. I don’t feel society has made any fixed rules for the way I need to live my life and I can write my own rulebook.
Your favourite queer-themed movie?
Were the World Mine (I too wish I had that magic wand to make anyone gay)
Your favourite queer-themed book?
Not much into reading books and novels. *Smiley Face*