Autobiography of an Indian Gay Man from a Middle Class Family (Part 1/2)

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GAY. The word has two meanings light-hearted and carefree; and homosexual. When one is brought up in the Indian society, one doesn’t learn either of these two meanings; albeit what one learns as the meaning of the word is Chakka. Any effeminate man or any man acting in a feminine way, as per Indian societal norms, is branded as Chakka or Gay. This is what is inculcated in the minds of our children. Watching reality TV shows, if any male judge is wearing unorthodox or so-called-non-manly clothes, they are openly termed Chakka or Gay. This is what the children in our society see and learn; that the word Gay is derogatory, cheap and can be used as an abuse. Thanks to some stereotypical characters and actors, this has become more prominent.

Brought up in a similar Indian family, hearing the same stuff, I never wanted to be called Gay. It was very late in time that I realized that I WAS Gay. When the word itself is a taboo, one doesn’t relate it to it that soon in life. Only when it is too late that one realizes the fact and becomes accepting about it. Thereafter, it takes a lot of pain (and guts) to accept yourself completely for who you are and then to come out to your family -the people whom you love so much that you don’t want to see them in any pain, be it emotional or physical. Sometimes, this coming out might be late enough for things to go haywire, for everything dear to you to be destroyed.

Looking back at my life, I realize that it was always there; my attraction for the same sex has always been there. The neither-feminine-nor-macho-me was always there; the one who has always been called names such as Didi, Bua or Ladki. I wouldn’t deny the fact that people would have called me Chakka or Gay. It used to bother me at that time but now that I have accepted me the way I am, it really doesn’t matter to me. It was just that the patriarchal Indian society never ever gave me a chance to come out or to accept myself as who I am without being ashamed of the fact.

Being a kid, when other boys used to play cricket, I used to play Ghar-Ghar with the girls of my neighborhood. When no one used to be home, I used to wear mom’s petticoat and dupatta, pretending it to be lehnga-chunni and would just swirl and enjoy the feeling. Now, I realize the reason why I loved Pathani Suit; because of its resemblance to salwar suit. I would feel elated wearing make up for the school functions. Having secret attraction towards one of the boys, who was from the neighborhood and also a classmate, was another great feeling.

Growing up gay with an elder brother, who is  macho as per the societal norms, but is too caring and over-protective, is another hell of a task. I remember when we used to watch F-TV, that was the best kind of nudity available for us at that time, I would just ogle at the male models. I have even masturbated thinking about them. At one instance, my brother caught me masturbating and then asked about the white fluid. Obviously, I was mute, out of embarrassment and also from fear. He did warn me not to do that again as it is not a good thing to do and it might as well result in something adverse happening to the family. After that, I tried resisting the urge to masturbate but couldn’t control my emotions enough, teenage is to blame. While masturbating I imagined one of those male models or the boy crush I had from my school-cum-neighborhood. I had no realization of my sexuality back then. I was too naïve and also was too busy focusing on studies to achieve the best of the grades, top the school so that my family, my parents would feel proud of me. Even in my 10th standard, when my classmates would discuss about sex/sexual stuff, it was all new to me and hence, I was generally left alone in such situations. It kind of felt odd not being able to be a part of the discussion but then it didn’t matter; all I cared at that time was to study, study and study to excel in the IIT-JEE. Moreover, when I told my mom about the discussion, she asked me to stay away from such dirty discussions and focus on studies. This is how any child in an Indian middle class family is brought up; irrespective of their sexuality.

Picture Credit: Balachandran Ramiah/QGraphy

It was during my college that I first started exploring the internet for alternate sexualities. As it generally happens, you begin with the bad part of the community first, sex and sex seekers. It would be wrong on my part if I would deny being a cam-sex addict myself. I didn’t have laptop in the first two years of my college life and then the one that I owned during the latter half of the college, didn’t have a camera. Basically, it was always my roommate’s laptop which I used for relieving my urge. It all started with googling for such things in the first year, at night when my roommate used to go to sleep, and making a fake Skype ID. The process continued throughout the college life with the only progress of having an additional fake Facebook ID. I would as well look at the shirtless guys in the hostel, in the washroom area and just satisfy my eyes.  During this whole exposure to the community outside, there was a slight realization of my sexuality but there was a shame as well. The terms, Homo or Gay, as were used in the hostel by the boys, showed the contempt which the society has for such people. Gay has always been a curse word for the boys in the hostel even if it was out of mockery.

During the college, one of our seniors was out and I faintly remember the things people in our hostel talked about him when we got to know about his sexuality. I was not ready to be out at that time, moreover, I thought of it as a phase and that it would soon be over and I would marry a girl as a so-called-normal guy would, make my parents proud and live a happy life.

With an unmarried elder brother, thankfully, I was not forced to marry immediately any time after passing out from college. The cam sex stuff continued during the first two years of my career. It was a small place and being in-the-closet, the best one could do was chat with random people through fake FB profile and sometimes through Skype. This all happened when my colleagues-cum-flatmates-cum friends were not there. Coming out to friends as well becomes difficult with uncertainty of acceptance, especially when they have been taunting you of having feminine traits. This time as well, my feelings and emotions were masked by the urge of learning more and more as it was the start of my career and thereafter, switching to a better paying job as soon as that was possible. Moreover, the notion of it being a phase which would soon be over was still there, even though at the back of my mind I knew what the reality was. The thought of marrying a girl at the end of this phase was replaced by rational thinking of not marrying at all; another taboo in the Indian society where a well earning 20+ years old is seen as an eligible prospect for marriage and the family’s reputation is under question for not marrying their son at this so-called marriageable age.

My patience and hard work bore fruits and at the end of my first two years of in the industry, I got a job offer from one of the most reputed organizations in India which was well paying and would need me to relocate to Delhi. With my brother there in Delhi, it was decided that we would move in together. The first year went by settling in the new metropolitan atmosphere as well as in a new position in such an esteemed organization. When things were going on fine, I was introduced to Grindr and Planet Romeo and with my base in Delhi; it was much easier to connect with others of my like. At the age of 25, when the urge to be intimate to someone was at its peak, I resorted to Grindr and had a random sex date with a stranger. The next morning was the most awful one that I had till then. There was a conflict inside me of having sex with someone before marriage, of having sex with a random person, of having sex with a guy and foremost of all of my sexuality. It was a feeling when you don’t even want to look at your face in the mirror as it oozed out of disgust. It was really a hard time when you have to be strong enough so that the uneasiness within is not shown on the exterior,  when you have to pretend to the people you love that you are fine along with keeping up your standards at work.

depression

I felt all this even after knowing a lot about alternate sexualities, so I cannot blame the people not belonging to the community and not knowing about such sexualities existing to understand the difficulties the community faces. It took months for me to accept myself with all the internal reasoning and justification of each and every thing I had done till then, every emotion I had and moreover of how would my family would react if they come to know about it. I tried resisting any such feelings in the very start as I was not completely acceptable of myself but then logic gave way to emotions and feelings and I understood that this is who I am and no matter how hard I try, I wouldn’t be able to control my emotions. With such cool parents as mine, I had a positive feeling that they would accept me for whom I am and there wouldn’t be much fuss about it and this made myself more acceptable of myself.

After these difficult months, I thought of experimenting and trying a hand at the gay life of a metro; and that doesn’t mean having random sex dates but I was hoping for a romantic affair, falling in love with someone special. I was already 25 and had not even had a fling with anyone when my classmates have had multiple affairs or some of them had been in relationships for years. Looking back at the school and college time, I realize why I never had been in such an affair because I never had those feelings for any girl. There have been multiple signs from many of my classmates which I was never able to grasp. I have laughed at myself thinking of how I silly I was back then and how long it took me to accept myself with all the signs around; all I needed was to sew all the those signs scattered all around me.

It was then on PR, a guy; full of attitude, kind of intellectual and creative; caught my attention. Chats on PR followed by chats on FB; real IDs this time and then after assuring myself that people out there are no beasts who would eat me up, I shed the inhibition of meeting him. Although, the inhibition was not completely gone, that’s why the venue for the meeting was chosen as a coffee shop in a mall nearby. The guy seemed pretty decent and as it turns out for most of the coffee dates, it turned into a sex date at my place. Hopeless me had already fallen for this guy; infatuation it was, as it turned out to be 8 months later. This guy was not even over his ex-straight BFF even after more than a year of separation. I was stupid enough to hang around this guy for over half a year, trying my best to be a part of his life when all he wanted was a friend, may be, or a friend with benefits; benefits of all sorts – sex, money and company.

To be continued…