Finding LGBTQ In STEM

Based on that sole piece of advice, I asked around, read more to find the truth of the matter and just like that, an article published on the Forbes website last year caught my attention which reported that fewer gay men choose to opt a STEM degree than heterosexual men. My focus quickly turned towards my own experiences and I started pondering deeply over situations that I faced as a homosexual individual in the STEM community and here’s my story.

“The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose.

But queerer than we can suppose.”

I came through this quote while reading the book The Emperor of All Maladies, and I read it over and over again until the depth of it sunk into me. Every situation that I had been in, on the superficial level, there seemed to be just one explanation, but as I started talking about my feelings, my perception of it to my kin, I realized how different their views were! However, there was this one instance, I clearly remember, when one of my dear friends told me that maybe I was disconnected from the majority of my colleagues as I may be the only gay man that I know of in my line of work. Based on that sole piece of advice, I asked around, read more to find the truth of the matter and just like that, an article published on the Forbes website last year caught my attention which reported that fewer gay men choose to opt a STEM degree than heterosexual men. My focus quickly turned towards my own experiences and I started pondering deeply over situations that I faced as a homosexual individual in the STEM community and here’s my story.

Like all life-schooling, mine too started at home. Being born in a business-oriented family, I have been fortunate to get first hand lessons on business, work, career and self-upliftment. Ever since I was little, I have heard words like machine, drawing, plant, site, compressor, chiller, nuts, screws, bolts and what not! Having grown around such an environment, I imagined myself being a part of the coterie. My lessons began immediately after SSC exams when I started attending my grandfather’s office and was made to observe the environment; how people behave in a situation, how to talk to others, how is business done but most important of all, how is a livelihood earned. Through the drawings, I started falling in love with machines and their sciences and voilà, there was a dream to become a Mechanical Engineer just like my grandfather. While all this was going on, I paid little or no attention to the gay man growing within me.

My journey into homosexuality had started right from my school days but just that I did not know what was going on and there was nobody to educate me about it. We did have sex education classes but never on sexuality awareness and hence I, along with others, who were in the same classroom, were left to explore and learn about it ourselves. As time went by, my affinity and attraction towards men increased but I never acted on it since I always thought that it was a “passing phase” and the environment around me was not conducive to pursue my way of life.

Then came the undergraduate years where I truly started having some leisure time to think about myself and focus on my personal desires. I fell in love with a guy head over heels who’d go on to become my first love. It was a beautiful memory of me with him to talk, walk, chat just about anything. I was so blinded by love that I couldn’t see through the actual human that he was! Trash-talking behind my back, belittling me in front of crowds, passing mean comments had all become a part of my every day, but in the name of love, I forgave him, kept on doing it until one day when I stopped existing for him, just like that, all of a sudden! With the mental trauma of the breakup and pressure of examinations on my head, I fell into depression for 7 long and quiet months. I realized that I ended up paying a hefty price for being in love and that’s when my adulthood began.

Going into the adulthood wasn’t easy but then again, who said it would? The lessons I learnt in undergraduate and the following four years of living away from my country, were truly eye-opening. The point of me telling you my story is to convey that as a mechanical engineer, my life hasn’t been any different and wouldn’t have been if I was not in STEM. If your environment around you is right, you could be anything or could be anywhere and nobody will stop you from achieving your goals. Furthermore, I do not conclusively agree that fewer gay men are likely to take up a degree in STEM but what I certainly know is that gays aren’t any less capable. After all, the studies refer to data that focus on homosexuals who are out and not the ones who are still closeted! Knowledge, intelligence do not see or know sexuality and Sir Alan Turing is the finest example of it.  Even though he knew that he was a homosexual gentleman, that did not stop him from pursuing what he absolutely loved: mathematics. The strength of fighting against all odds automatically comes when you work on something you truly love. I assure you that the day people start, or at least attempt, focusing on what’s really important, is the day when all the gaps between various groups of population will narrow.

About the guest author

Jash Vora

I am a Mumbai native; my family's third generation in the city. Alongside juggling my job and home-kitchen business, I thoroughly enjoy my evening jog, playing badminton, swimming and throwing house parties too!