It’s that all-important first step every gay person needs to take – a monumental, important, and personal transition we all go through. For some of us, it’s made a lot harder because of external pressures we face from family, society, and religion.
I came from a very conservative family. The family always had notoriously ill feelings toward the LGBTQ community. So, as a young gay boy, I grew up thinking that my feelings towards other men were wrong, akin to an illness – something I had to suppress.
It did take a toll on me, I’ll be frank. For me, I was dealing with two issues, not just one – you have to remember that in India, apart from talking about homosexuality, talking about mental health is another taboo. I was going through depression and anxiety.
It was taking a heavy toll on my everyday life. The point is, I was living a dual life because I had to fake so much. Even on social media, if I happened to post a picture with a woman, the default instinct is that people would ask if that was my girlfriend. If I’ve gone on a trip with my partner, how do I post about it? If I had a romantic picture of both of us that I wanted to display on my desk, I wasn’t able to do it back then. Because in India, it’s still a very uncommon sight.
Because of this, my coming out experience came later on in my life, compared to other gay boys of my age. I was in my twenties when I was finally able to accept who I was and felt proud of it. It was a long journey that began with confronting thoughts I had going on in my head like “Being gay is wrong”, “I don’t want to dress up in women’s clothes, so surely I can’t be gay!”, “What will all my friends think?”, “What will my parents think?!”…
The main thing that helped me overcome all the anxieties I had about my sexuality was to educate myself about it via online resources, forums, articles, and gay dating sites. I was also fortunate that there were so many positive openly gay LGBTQ celebrities who show you that you can be gay and amazing at the same time!
Ultimately, I was able to reach the conclusion that I was born this way. These “feelings” I had towards other men were entirely natural and not something I ever “chose” to have. Most importantly of all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it at all!
When I was finally able to accept all of this, it was the greatest feeling ever. My confidence went through the roof! I was then able to slowly come out to my friends, work colleagues, and eventually, my family. Now that I’m out at work, I do have my partner’s picture – our picture – on my desk. And nobody questions it. I have a rainbow flag as well and I think my sexuality is pretty much obvious now.
The truth is, whilst this is a complex and challenging journey, it does get better!