I was dyslexic and hence a slow learner since childhood. I had been battling an inferiority complex and above all the burden of being gay. I have been attracted to boys from the very beginning.
When I used to watch movies, I felt the urge to go and hug the male actor, but it was never the same for women. So I always knew that something was not straight. However, I did not know the difference between a lesbian, gay, transexual, and words like such. Everyone in my school used to call me Bayalya (feminine) and Gud (gay person) which hurt a lot.
The bullying intensified over time. I could hear people shouting behind my back and I knew that remark was for me. One of the most embarrassing moments I have felt is when somebody said that Ameya's mother wanted a son while his father wanted a daughter, God listened to their prayers and now, both are satisfied. This comment hit my self-confidence and led me to go into a shell and eventually affected my studies.
One day, I met a person on a Mumbai local train. He was staring at me and sensed that I'm gay. People like us have the ability to determine whether someone is gay or not-we call it 'Gaydar'. He approached me and asked me to calm down as I was visibly little and shy. He recommended visiting a center called 'Humsafar', the first openly Gay Community-Based Organisation in Mumbai. In my heart, I felt that if I don't take one step ahead I will never come to know about my real identity.
So I made the call and went with him. This was the first stepping stone in my life to accept my real self. They used to have a general meeting for everybody to discuss their issues and problems at the center. With time, I started going there every Friday and was overwhelmed to see that it was not just me who was different, but there were thousands and many more people like me across the globe. Being with them, understanding them, I felt I belonged there—these were my people, nobody was going to judge me, nobody said that 'you are wearing very loud clothes, nobody told me you are being feminine.'
A few people from this group started their own social organisation called 'Gay Bombay', promoting LGBTQ rights. They arrange parties, picnics, get-togethers from time to time for gay persons. I also got associated with it later and collected funds for these events. I started building myself slowly, step by step, and realised I could be who I was, at least within my own circle.
During that time, while visiting Humsafar, I fell in love with a person who was bisexual and married. He had a best friend with whom he shared everything, even about our personal stuff, which used to hurt me a lot. Every day I used to go home and cry in the washroom because of this person's behaviour. I didn't eat my food properly, didn't go to my job, so my mom noticed and sensed that I might be going through a bad phase.
But she took it the other way. She thought I might have gotten addicted to drugs. Every time I went out of the washroom, she would visit and look if there is any sign of substance consumption. During the same time, I was terrified of coming out to my parents. But eventually, my mom got a hint about it through one of my friends and confronted me.
It took a year for her to accept who I was. She thought I had been brainwashed, somebody had 'misused' me, and I have gotten addicted to being gay. Little did they know that it was there since my childhood. They took me to a psychiatrist for six months, where my treatment began. I was not subjected to any strong medication but just counselling. I was given mind relaxing tablets for proper sleep, vitamin tablets for a good appetite.
During my Humsafar days, I heard many stories about the shock treatments the parent forcefully put their children into, so I was also scared. But the doctor was helpful and made me understand one thing. He said you are not new to yourself, but for your mom, you are newly born and it's a new baby in the house, she is trying to understand the baby's likes and dislikes.
Since then, I was a little confident that if I was caught somewhere, I need not worry. Now, my parents knew everything about me. I believe people blackmail you when you are trying to hide something. Slowly, life started getting back to normal.
In this period, my mom started coming for GB parents' meet to encourage people like me, whose parents have abandoned them, and make parents understand their kids' lives. My mother joined Sweekar, the first Indian parent group, as a core member and other parents of LGBTQ communities. So in the process, my mom has also become confident of coming out. Now if I hold up anything in my heart, because of my language, childhood trauma, low confidence, she motivates me to come forward and face society. She believes people should also know about me and will not harass me in their absence. She encourages me to be fearless and to fight it out by myself.
But some incidences used to hurt me. Once my aunt, who is a doctor, was skeptical, she said that if you want to come to the hospital don't wear earrings. She had this thought that people will come to know her nephew was gay. I thought that if educated people like her have this mindset, how is society going to change. I have met uneducated people also like a worker who once said "Aap Jaise Ho Waise Theek Ho'' (You are good like the way you are). Then I realised that education has nothing to do with acceptance, it's your thought that matters.
One thing I want to make people understand is that make your child's life and soul a priority, rather than fearing about society and 'Log Kya Kahenge'. If my mom and family would have forced me into marriage, they would have taken this grievance till death. Society is not going to save you if you lose your child, that loss will be unbearable and forever.
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