Interviewee : Bhargesh Ved
Q. What do you identify as?
Gay, Queer, Transgendered. I’m am seriously unsure where I fit.
Q. When did you first start to define your identity as such?
By the age of 8 when kids start identifying with gender roles. I knew I was different. The terminology came much later while I was in my teens.
Q. Have you experienced first-hand homophobia? If yes, how did you deal with it?
I have experienced name calling since school for being different in behavior. The environment I’ve grew up in wasn’t accommodating of differences. I wasn’t sure who to trust so the best way to deal with it was going inwards and keeping interaction as limited as possible. Its not been very helpful since the walls we create as children become hard to knock down as adults.
Q. When did you first out yourself?
While in my late teens in the year 1999. To a close friend and family.
Q. Was it unplanned or was there careful planning involved?
Coming out for me was asserting and speaking out my ‘different’ness. I was already made aware by years of name calling and ragging that a ‘different’ness in gender and orientation aren’t looked at favourably. I was stepping into adulthood with a huge difference between myself and a conventional gender role. The biggest challenge for me was to muster the courage to come out. I just psyched myself to come out one day and I did.
Q. Who did you come out to & why did you come out to that person?
I came out to my close friend and my immediate family (to mom and dad at the same time). I didn’t know how my coming out would be received but these people were compassionate towards me. I figured that if I wanted to be accepted as who I was then It had to be with these people.
Q. How did that person react?
Everyone that I came out to realized that it took me a lot of courage to come out and accepted me without any hesitation.
Q. Did your coming out change anything about your relationship with them?
My coming out to them and their acceptance made me trust them more.
Q. Have you ever been outed without your consent? If yes, how did you deal with it?
In college someone drew a love doodle in a guys notebook and attributed it to me. Fortunately they didn’t do a good job matching my handwriting so I was able to call their bluff. It was enough for everyone to attribute me as ‘homo’.
Q. How did the people you were outed to deal with it?
The ones who had a problem stopped communicating and the ones who didn’t have a problem kept the communication open.
Q. 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?
In a conservative society we are constantly reminded of our ‘wrong’ness. We do not choose our sexuality and identity. It is not compassionate to make others feel wrong about sexuality/identity and this has to change in our conservative society. A lot of community folks in India such as Harrish Iyer and Gaysi and many others are bringing the dialogue of sexuality/identity in the mainstream and this Q&A is my own little step in embracing myself in a conservative society.
Q. Would you recommend that people stay in the closet or come out?
I would recommend first and foremost for people to gain financial independence. It is better to get a good idea about your family and friends impression of LGBT before you come out to them.
Q. One Indian Celebrity you would love to see coming out as gaysi?
I would love to see Milind Soman come out. I am not aware of his sexuality. He is his own person and walks his own path. He would best represent every gaysi individual who wants to have their own identity.
Q. Your favourite queer-themed movie?
Mambo Italiano (2003) A story about coming out to a conservative family with a lot of humour. I had a good laugh watching it especially the church scene where all the members of the family are in confession booths contemplating and quarrelling about the coming out of their son.
Q. Your favourite queer-themed book?
R. Raja Rao’s “The Boyfriend”. Explores the gay scene in Mumbai through a chance encounter