My coming out story… hm I never thought I would ever really write one because for the longest time I have been thinking, “why do I even have to come out?” Why do I owe the world or anyone an explanation or justification for being myself? Straight people don’t explain their sexuality or identification story to the world, so why do I?
I am gay. That’s it. There is nothing more and nothing less. It doesn’t change who I have been for the past 23 years, it doesn’t make me a bad person, it doesn’t make me any less capable to accomplish as anyone else. So many queer people feel like they owe the world an in-depth explanation to their extremely private personal matters when in reality, it is no one else’s business but their own. I personally “came out” more because I felt like I had to for other people rather than for myself. The world seemed like they needed to hear the words “I am gay” come out of mouth so they could move on. That certainly was how it was for my family.
Since birth my family knew I was gay and while I was given the space to find myself, it was something that was constantly being held against me. But before I get into my family, there was one person who was the most important to come out too and had to be done first. That person was myself. I had to delve deep inside myself to face my emotions, digest all of my experiences, and then synthesize what all of my personal realizations were. This process was the most difficult and took a while to complete as there were numerous questions running through my head: “Why me? Will it go away? Can I hide it? Maybe I can suppress it? I can just lie to myself and the world right?” By the age of 19, I had fully come to terms with the fact that I was gay and was comfortable enough to look in the mirror by myself and say, “I am gay”. Next I told my closest friends and asked that this matter be kept private as I was still figuring out how to navigate the world in my own identity. From the ages of 19-22, I spent my life exploring my sexuality and trying to figure out what gay meant to me. This was painful at times where I found myself full of self-hatred and resentment against the world. It was also full of fun and joy while I got to experience the multiple shades of the rainbow and find myself a community, “my chosen family”. Now at the age of 23, I still ask questions but in a whole different way: “Not why me but try me? I am gay so what? Being gay isn’t a big deal to me so why is it to anyone else? Why do I need to hold back who I am?” I am able to be proud of myself and be confident in any space I walk into. This newfound confidence and courage was an indicator to myself that I was ready to talk to my family.
My family comes from a relative conservative South Indian family whose lives center around culture, tradition, social norms, and religion. Everything had a meaning, a process, and a method leaving no room for growth, learning, and change. That was what scared me for the longest time and prevented me from even opening up the conversation, but I realized that my apprehension wasn’t because of my family but it was because for the longest time I was insecure in my own identity. The pillars of who I was were weak and easily toppled but once I solidified these pillars, I didn’t view my family as a challenge but an opportunity to bring about lasting change for generations to come. I may be the first openly gay person in my family’s lineage but, I certainly will not be the last.
SO now the actual “coming out” conversation with my parents. I was very calm and very direct and just said, “You know and I know that I am gay, so let’s stop pretending otherwise.” This was met at first with a multitude of questions, which I tried the best I could to answer however I don’t have all of the answers as I am still on this journey. “What about the rest of the family? How do we make them understand? What about your health and safety?” These are all valid questions but I said that we have to figure out the answers together. I no longer wanted to make it feel like it was me and then them, I wanted to unify the family and say “let us now move forward together”. We will have to communicate our fears and concerns while also pushing each other forward. We left the conversation with my parents accepting me as their gay son but they were honest that they are not proud of it or support it. I said, “you will one day.”
So that marked the start of a whole new journey and part of my life. A part of my life where I am “out” and open about my sexuality. One where I now walk the earth with a new found purpose, a new sense of self worth and new sense of responsibility to help other queer people who have felt like me at any point in their life. You are not alone, your voice matters, you are seen, and you are heard.
What does this new chapter of my life look like? Super gay.