I Am Out – What’s Next?

This is my first post and I hope to introduce myself briefly without putting you off to sleep. I first came across this website two years ago, when I was still in the process of accepting who I was. At that time, I decided it would be interesting for me to write up my thoughts on being a 20-something South Asian women living a closeted life away from my home – my struggles, I thought, would find support among the community here. But when I started to pen down my thoughts, I realized what I really wanted was to give support, not receive it from people. The first few words I had penned down in May 2010 went something like this..

I feel like I’m two faced too. On one hand, I live a happy life with a loving girlfriend and friends and coworkers (few) who love me for who I am, gaysi et al. On the other, it’s a happy turned grim life with my own family. At times I think they know they raised a gay daughter and are in that infamous phase of denial. But at times like today morning, I question that. When they send me ‘proposals’ from men I never knew existed, let alone met. When they send me links to Facebook profiles (gasp!) of men they think are a suitable match for me. Why oh why did I ever tell them I have a Facebook account. What should I do? Here lies a difficult crossroad. I’m not ready to let them know, yet I can’t keep tearing my own life apart for their happiness. Maybe you know of a better way?

In March 2011, I finally came out to my mother. We were driving down from my hick hometown to New Delhi for a friend’s wedding. It was just me, her and the driver. I knew I was going to be cornered into answering why I was the only woman my age who showed little to no interest in getting married. My parents have never pressured me into anything, but this societal pressure wouldn’t even let them be. In the past few years, I had come to terms with being a lesbian, mainly because I was now living in the land of the free.. not in India. I had received great support and love from people around me, which made me realize what I was, and what I could be. Still, I had no plans to prance about declaring who I was to my parents on that trip. That trip was strictly reserved for my friend’s wedding. Yet here I was, sitting in a moving car with nowhere to hide. And so it began,

Mother: Chalo bacche, what is it? Are you seeing someone? You know you can tell us anything, we will be supportive. Is he American?
Me: *silence*
Mother: Are you concerned we won’t approve? I hope you know we are very open minded.
Me: *silence*
Mother: (jokingly) kahin koi ladki to nahi hai hahaha (Its not a girl, is it?)
Me: *burst into tears*
Mother: (laughter turns to silence to shock) Look at me, don’t pull my leg. Seriously, is that what it is?
Me: *crying* Maybe it is Ma. Actually, yes it is.

This was proceeded by 3 hours of silence while we drove to New Delhi. I cried myself to sleep, while she sat there numb. The next few days we didn’t touch back on this conversation. And then t-1 day before I had to fly back to the US, she called me while I was out with a friend saying..

“Beta, don’t worry. I am happy you shared your life with me, it must have been difficult. We love you, you will always be our daughter, don’t ever forget that.”

I cried tears of joy after I put the phone down. Was this for real? Did my dreams just become a reality? I was ecstatic, more than I’d ever been – happy. But alas, I misunderstood her. Because as we sat a few hours before we needed to leave for the airport, she talked about how I probably hadn’t met the right guy yet. How it may have been because I went to an all-girls school. Or perhaps, it was because I had emotional insecurities in my childhood. Every explanation you could think of, she gave me. How wrong I was. As I turned around to walk towards the airport gate, she hugged me and said “Take care, think of your mother please.” I came back to my apartment, not knowing how to feel. Usually, I feel sad when I leave home. For the first time, I was happy to be back to my life. To be myself. What followed in the next two weeks were several Skype conversations. Me trying to explain to her that this wasn’t just a phase, this is who I was. And no therapist, no doctor could change that. Her trying to give me more reasons as to why I was the way I was. When finally one day she broke down and maybe realized, I was a lost cause. My “gayness” was staying.

This was in March 2011. Since then, not a word has been spoken on the subject. Yes, they have stopped sending me marriage proposals. But they haven’t started to accept me yet, or that’s how it feels like. They still don’t know that I’m with someone, and they haven’t been there to see me go through heartbreaks, a privilege that many of my straight friends have. This is where I stand.

So where am I going with this? Two ways. One, for the people that are still struggling to come out to themselves, their friends, their family.. know that you WILL get past it. You will, because I did. At the end of the day, your life is in your hands, and whatever the outcome will be, know that YOU will feel liberated in unknown ways when you do feel comfortable coming out. Two, for the people that have gone through what I have, what do you do? Do you just let your parents sweep it under the carpet since you did your part? Or do you continue the conversation? And how?

This has been a longer post that I expected, and if you’re still awake – I promise you I will get funnier. The only other thing I’m sure about (other than being a lesbian), is that I am hilarious. So stick around, this will get better.

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