Coming Out

-Ahana Banerjie

Out. The word in itself serves a great meaning to every kind of usage in any expression in the English language. To many males in the society in the countries of South East Asia, this word is related to the English game of Cricket which means sending a batsman of the batting team out of the pavilion through a dismissal. To others with a good sense of humor, it resembles to going into a sound sleep after being unable to cope with hard work and loss of energy. For many years, the people of the sub-continent recognized it to be a harsh word that can be put to use against the British rulers, with a prefix, asking them to leave their motherland. Academicians and their students fear the word as much as they love their subjects and their place of knowledge. From sports to modern day politics to media to religion, from a believer to a non-believer, this simple word still holds a great meaning to their existence in this planet.

As a child, certain things were unknown to us. When internet first came to India in the late 1990s, it proved to be a boon for many of us. Until then we thought we are the only one who existed in this world. We were too scared to express our feeling or our love for the other person since our parents disapproved of it then. That there are many like us and are living on the planet were somewhat distant dreams. I dressed as a girl only when my parents were out of the home. My desire to be a girl existed within me, since I had no idea then that one could alter his/her physical appearance through operations known as ‘sex-change’ or medically as ‘sex re-assignment surgery’, commonly known as the SRS. In school, getting to portray a role of a female was exciting for the thought of donning make-ups and wearing feminine clothes, gave a chance to be me. Sometimes there would be teachers who would try to embarrass us in front of the class for our nature and our mannerisms. To tell them how I feel was like talking to stones, who were so deeply blinded by the society of the prejudices against us that they would often consider us mentally unstable. Computers with internet connections in today’s world could be recognized as an important tool for enhancing our knowledge on the subject of our education and laying the stone for our struggle for freedom (read the abolition of the Section 377 that criminalized us for being who we are). There many gays and lesbians; who are still afraid to come out of the closet and venture in the present scenario owing to the fear of their life, family or community’s prestige, earning a proper livelihood, losing their friends n family and many other things; can be found. Many women who fail to gather the courage to tell their families of their real identity often end up getting involved in a failed married life or remaining unmarried, only to be left alone in the world. Transgendered males and females, for the fear of their life in most Indian cities, act truant by running away from their homes and get themselves involved with the eunuchs or in the red light areas in search of their dream to be themselves. All these because they fail to step out from the stereotypical bindings of this world.

I used to enjoy being me, when I was alone at home. I went to a boarding house and there I stayed at the boys’ hostel. There were people who used to crack jokes at me. All I could do is silently watch them and do nothing. Some teachers would even term me a criminal, indicting me for being a bad influence on my classmates. A night gown worn by a male student in the hostel was considered a big crime by the school, and they would complain to the parents about his unnatural behavior in the campus. It was the moment when I thought that the time was ripe for me to come out and tell my parents who I actually wanted to be. For the next few minutes I was compelled to drop in another world by a series of hard slaps from my mother. Such a shame and rather curse for them that one of their sons had just expressed a desire to be a girl, bringing the whole family’s good name in the society to a big disgrace. A session with a string of psychiatrists led me through a number of big doses of medicines; but they would often come up with the conclusion that I am either depressed or being influenced by English movies and their culture. The relatives got another opportunity to make fun of me now. Life since then has not been that easy. At college in a big city, I had come to know that there are many others like me who too breathe on this planet, thanks to Yahoo! Messenger and Google search engine which helped me in getting friends who are like me and some who supported my cause. In college and then in office, in a city like Delhi and its surrounding suburbs, life was good but then there were struggles at every stage. The landlords and even the flat owners are more interested in knowing us closely than our places of origin and what we do for living. It has always been the understanding that had helped many from our community to get a good accommodation at a posh locality in the main hubs of the city. Be it a gay or lesbian or transgender, being out had obviously helped. Two men living together for many years and in a relationship and being out is considered safer than being in the closet, as it grows suspicion in the minds of their families as well as others close to them, leading to many unhealthy and distasteful activities in their life. Prejudices exist even today, and to beat them will take another decade or so. I tried to go for jobs with my sexuality mentioned in my résumés in the job portals only to be sitting idle for weeks with no calls to appear for interviews from anywhere. However, the day I removed the information about my sexuality from the portals, from the next day I had more than at least twenty companies asking me to sit for their interviews and some holding them over the phone. That did not stop me from mentioning about my origin and I really impressed many of them to get a job with a good post and salary and the liberty to go to the office as the person, I am.

Being out could be dangerous, but not always. There would come a time when people around would start realizing the essence of a peaceful co-existing individual whose sexuality might be different than most of the beings in the surroundings and not harmful to influence others to indulge in the same activity. Friends and families come late in some cases and early in others. Some friends from schools and colleges or even offices might fail to stand when needed and would leave forever, paving the way for better individuals who would be there for the rest of the life ignoring the fact of the sexuality of their friends and how they want to appear in life. Struggle would be there in every sphere of life. None can guarantee when it would come to an end, however, to garner the courage to go through it and then getting rid of it gives much pleasure than living life in the closet, which might never open and strangulate the future of living a good and respectful life to death.