“When I was 14, my teacher pulled me aside and told me that she didn’t like how close I was getting to one of my girl friends. I was confused, but ever since, I started looking down upon homosexuality. If I saw guys being friendly with each other, or heard guys with girly voices, I felt uncomfortable.
But in college, I felt attracted to a girl. I hated feeling that way, so for 2 months, I barely went out. When I’d see her, I’d walk away and avoid conversation. I thought the feelings would fade, but they didn’t.
I’d cry everyday and at my lowest, I’d cut myself. I even started going to the temple everyday to pray that I’d be ‘normal’ again. When nothing worked, I decided to tell a friend– she told me that it’s completely normal! She told me about her coming out story, and that made me feel so much better. So over the next few days, I told a few more friends.
I even started experimenting with clothes. On Diwali that year, I wore a shirt and tie from dad’s closet, and then started dressing the same to school — I received so many compliments!
I finally felt like I was able to be myself. So when I had my first girlfriend at 20, I wanted to tell my parents. We were on a holiday when I told them. They looked upset, but said, ‘It’s okay, just take care’. But the next day, while we were at a restaurant and I called a waitress pretty, dad blew up and told me never to say anything like that again.
My stomach dropped– I felt ashamed again. But I still wanted to share everything with them, I knew they’d understand over time. When I told them about my second girlfriend, mom asked to meet her. For a year, my parents researched and read articles on LGBTQIA. I felt a sense of comfort when they started inquiring about my girlfriends normally. My dad even sent me articles of people from the LGBTQIA community who were excelling.
And then last year, we were on holiday in Goa, when dad and I were having chai on the verandah. As we gazed at the beach, he said, ‘Are we checking the same girl out?’ We laughed together and my heart felt so light. I hugged him tight, and since then I’ve unabashedly been me! I mean how epic was that ice breaker?” #PrideMonth