Q. What do you identify as (gay, bi, transgendered, queer – use any terms you like here)?
I am Gay.
Q. When did you first start to define your identity as such?
I guess in my teens I realised that I was different from others, over the years the gay identity emerged. In college, while other boys may have been looking at girls and making comments, I was quite oblivious to it and never cared to join in those conversations out of any social pressure to fit it.
Q. Was it easy or difficult for you to come to terms with your sexuality?
Yes and No. While I had no issue with being gay or exploring my sexuality, it took a while to come to terms with the social aspects. It is simple things like using a fake name in the initial days, staying away from the parties and the scene. When I look back at it, it has been a long journey in 6 odd years; using my real identity, being part of the scene, being associated with Pride, Yaariyan and organising queer parties as Gossip.
Q. Have you experienced first- homophobia? If yes, how did you deal with it?
Thankfully, I have never experienced any homophobia till date.
Q. When did you first out yourself?
Well it was right after college, I was probably around 22 years old then.
Q. Was it unplanned or was there careful planning involved?
Oh there was planning alright! Took days, if not weeks to pick the right time.
Q. Who did you come out to & why did you come out to that person?
So the person I came out to first was my best friend in college. I suspected that she was a lesbian from day 1, but we never talked about it until that one fine day when I met her for lunch. There was some Queer movie screening that same day, and I knew she would want to see it too. So we started with lunch and I couldn’t figure out how to bring the topic up. My friend realised that I wanted to say something, but couldn’t. In the end she asked me, why I had called her today. I think I fumbled and said, “I am…”. She replied, “Yes I know, and so am I!” And rest is history.
Q. How did that person react?
Rather well; we did end up going to film fest and later we met another college friend, and both of us came out to him, and he took it well.
Q. Did your coming out change anything about your relationship with them?
Made us closer, she still remains my best friend.
Q. Have you ever been outed without your consent? If yes, how did you deal with it?
Well yes, few of my fruit flies (fag hags) have very innocently gone and told some people, it ended up with me having more fruit flies! Another more serious one is when I was getting some articles done during Pride, I got along extremely well with this journalist from the major national daily, who until I came out with pride stories was being stuck up. She asked a lot of question about the pride. Finally when the story came out, I was quoted in it without my consent!
Q. How did the people you were outed to deal with it?
All have taken it extremely well, and have been supportive.
Q. Do you think being gaysi makes it harder to come out & that if you weren’t part of such a traditional & conservative culture you would have an easier time with your sexuality/identity?
Yes, I do think it makes it difficult to a certain extent. I can imagine coming out to one’s close family for the first time is difficult in any part of the world. However, we gaysis have to deal with extended familymembers, who are more concerned about us and our marriage, than global warming or world peace! I guess that’s the con of being a in a close knit community like ours; if we don’t conform to their rules, we are looked at as odd or strange.
Q. You are actively involved in organizing of the Mumbai Pride Celebrations & also spearhead city’s proactive young LGBTQ group Yaariyan. What drives you to be so involved in the ground work of Queer initiatives?
I guess it’s in my nature to end up doing all that. Even in school/college, I would actively take part in extra-curricular activities, and this just seems to be an extension of that, and to being a part of the queer community. I love doing it and find it extremely fulfilling!
Q. Would you recommend that people stay in the closet or come out?
It’s up to an individual based on his/her situation. I do feel even if one can’t be out to everyone, there is a need to have a close group of people whom one can be out to. It is essential to be one’s self, and not keep up an act all the time. After all it’s called being “Gay”; it’s fun indeed!
Q. One Queer or non-Queer personality you find inspiration from?
I do admire Ashok Row Kavi’s guts for coming out as the first openly out gay man in India. Also, all the ground work he has done for the community. Today I think we reap the benefits of that as Queer Individuals.
Q. Your favourite queer-themed movie?
I love feel good movies. “You Should Meet My Son!” is something I really loved; a comedy about a conservative Southern mom who discovers that her only son is gay. Determined that he won’t go through life alone, she sets out to find him a husband.
Q. One Bollywood star you could go out on date with?
Just one? Damn, these days I think it would be Prithviraj (Aiyyaa and Aurangzeb). He is a fellow Mallu after all!