[Editor’s Note : When we called for submissions for the second volume of Gaysi Zine we received a lot of short stories from writers all over the world – unfortunately, far more than we are able to feature in the zine. Therefore, we are delighted to be able to publish the best of those stories here on the blog.
This story is super special because it is a coming out story, and you know we truly love these stories. They make us realize that we’re not alone in this world, and that there is a big community of people that are truly special in ways that they may not even realise. Their success, failures, sadness, or happiness gives millions of closeted people courage to face their fears, and take the plunge, in the hope that it shall alright one day. A big thanks to Shwetha Pai for revisiting those feelings and memories, and sharing her personal story with us!]
I did not come out to myself till seven years ago. Like countless others who’ve faced a lot of discrimination while growing up, I don’t have a story to tell. I never had to doubt my sexuality, I didn’t think I was straight, I didn’t think of the alternatives either. The question never came to my mind. I did not crush after my cute math professor with a goatie or the lady professor at college who wore elegant sarees ala a toned down of Sushmita Sen in ‘Main Hoon Na’.
I did not know at the age of eight while playing hopscotch with friends that I was different. Sure, I hated girly clothes, wanted to chop off my long braids but I was not one to climb trees, play cricket or fight with the boys. So, now decades later when I hear of lesbians who “always knew” about their sexuality, I wonder if it was my ignorance, my late blooming sexuality or naiveté to have never realized I was a lesbian.
My partner knew by high school that she liked girls, I thought of neither boys nor girls. I read Mills and Boon when I was in high school but I didn’t swoon over the perfect man who rescued the damsel in distress. I liked happy endings and it never occurred to me that I could pick up lesbian literature or novels and read about their lives.
I realized I was a lesbian after I met my partner and there were no doubts after that. I still enjoyed Mills and Boon after meeting her but I started seeing things differently. I found the love of my life much before I acknowledged my sexuality and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Though I studied in an all girls college and had many friends over for group study, my parents realized much before me that our relationship was not merely friendship. Even before we acknowledged what we felt for each other, my parents did not want me to spend too much time with her.
Despite planning meticulously to get in to the same college in a different city for our post graduation we ended up in different states with not enough money to make frequent calls. We still managed to use some of our allowance for calls and traveled across cities on rickety buses to see each other.
After completing my Masters I got a good job offer from a company in her city and I took it. My first encounter with the word ‘lesbian’ as an abuse was from my flat mate. My partner and I shared one room and she stayed in the other. The flat mate was a good friend from college but things started going wrong when we stayed together because I wanted to spend all my time with my partner and I didn’t think this would seem strange to her. During one of our fights she threw the word at us. It disturbed me greatly and for days later I was unable to stop thinking about what she had said. I was a lesbian all along and it was fine with me but being labeled that made me feel horrible and for a long time I did not realize why I felt ashamed.
I realize now that though I was in love with my partner, we lived in a happy world of our own and not having come out we were yet to see its implications. I think the episode with my roommate delayed my coming out for many years. That coupled with the dread of my parents reaction and the fear that they would disown me.
Years later when my partner and I came out, the reactions from our parents were far worse than we had imagined. They not only disowned us, they also blamed the western society and our corporate jobs for their evil influence on us. But, here we stand two years after coming out to our parents. They are still bitter, but life goes on. We’ve discovered a new freedom after acknowledging our sexual identity and are ready for the next hurdle that we meet on our way.