Stand By Me

It was one of those days. One of those extremely depressing days when there seemed to be nothing good or happy in the world, when everything I did and was doing seemed pointless and life seemed hopeless. Earlier that day, I had heard that a friend of mine from the community had killed herself. I didn’t know how to deal with it and so hid in my room the whole day. In the evening, when I told my best friend about this, she came over.

After some inane chitchat, I just broke down when she asked me how I was holding up. I just sobbed and sobbed away like there was no tomorrow. She held me tight, my head to her chest, her arms enclosing me protectively. As if she stood between the big bad world and me, one hand gently stroking my head and another fiercely holding me up. I cried for what seemed like hours, till I had no more tears left in me and I just clung on to her hiccupping. She kept speaking softly into my ears, kissing me on my head from time to time, and then asked me to just say whatever was plaguing my mind.

Why was I bothering to fight against homophobia and misogyny? What is the point of it all? I can’t see any change, can I? There are still those friends who use “gay” and “faggot” liberally as insults and then claim to be pro-queer rights. Why am I bothering to post and tweet, hoping and praying (as much as an agnostic can) that at least a handful from my friends list will look at it and start thinking about these things? If strong, out and proud women like my friend are killing themselves, what hope did I, a semi-closeted 22 year old, have? How can I ever come out to my family when I cannot even convince a “friend” of 12 years that 377 is unconstitutional?

How can I live blindly believing that things will actually get better, when I see nothing actually changing?

My best friend heard all this, held me tighter and kept quiet for a bit. She then lifted my head up with both her hands, held it close to her face and told me softly with tears in her eyes, “Sathya, you remember those days of the suffragette movements and how women fought for basic equal rights? When you studied about it, didn’t you wish that you’d been born then just to have fought with them? Well, this is your fight. And mine. I cannot tell you that things will get better, simply because I don’t know if they will. But I can tell you this; things ARE changing, slowly and on a small scale, but they are. You personally change things when you come out to someone, regardless of how they receive it. You make them think and question themselves a little. I can only imagine what your friends must have been going through to decide that dying is their only option. I cannot even imagine what you’re going through right now. But this is all the more reason for you to fight back. Not just for yourself but also for them. I know you and let me tell you this. When things get better, if it is in our time, and people ask you how it was when you were a young queer girl and what you did, you will not want to be that person who says that you did nothing to bring along the change. You, Sathya, will not want to say that you just stayed quiet and let people say whatever they wanted to, without questioning them. You will not want to say that you did nothing to fight for YOUR rights. These days will come. They always do. That’s what I’m here for. Me and every other good friend of yours. To pull you back up. To shout along with you when needed and to fight for you against every moron who tells me that homosexuality is wrong. I want you to know that regardless of what happens, whether your parents kick you out or you lose a job or anything, we will ALWAYS be there for you”.

That night when I thought about all this, I realised just how lucky I was. I have friends who I know will pull me back up from the deepest pits of despair. I have friends who will scrutinize any girl I bring home and then tease me about it. I have friends who will always be there for me. I have friends who will be devastated if I killed myself. I have friends who not just accept me for who I am, but also celebrate it. I have friends who love me.

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22 and in college for Masters. Books. Photography. The Internet. Coffee. Food. Movies. Stationary. Old things. Night time. Theatre. Friends. Travel. Procrastinator. Mumbai. Chennai. The Gulf. Currently, I'm reading young adult queer literature, just to make up for the times when I should have read them but couldn't.
Sathya Bose

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