Decoded: What it's really like to be a gay man in a conservative Indian family

I'm a gay man in a conservative Indian family and this my story.

My name is…

You know what? It doesn’t matter. Nobody cares about my name, my hobbies, my likes and dislikes. All they care about is my sexuality and how to ‘fix’ me. They want to know why I ‘think I like men’. They want to know which movie corrupted my mind and when will I get over this phase. I’m a gay man in a conservative Indian family and this my story.

I was born in Ranikhet, a small city in Uttarakhand. I had a pretty normal life. Dad was a doctor and wanted me to be the same. Oh, by the way, did I tell you that I studied textile design in NIFT? Such a cliche, right? Anyway, my life was pretty much planned out for me. School, college, MBBS, marriage, kids, death- and it was pretty much unfolding like this until everything changed when I was 14. I was forced into believing (by my friends, of course) that I’m in love with a girl. Such a pretty young girl, I used to think to myself, who wouldn’t love her?! During the course of our long-lived 2-month relationship, I realised that I had immense respect for her, but wasn’t attracted to her. Something was off. Nay, everything was off. I didn’t want to hold her hand, didn’t want to whisper sweet nothings into her ear or any of the Romeo-Juliet bullcrap. But why? I let her go. When I was 16, I found love.

It was perfect. My lover made me smile. My lover turned me on. My lover made my heartbeat go berserk. But my lover was a guy. Yes, a young boy from a small town was in love with another young boy from a small town. Did I tell my parents? Only if I had a death wish.

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I left for Delhi when I was 18 to pursue B.Com. Guess who came with me? My boyfriend. We moved in together and lived happily without worrying about the future. Towards the end of our first year, we decided to come out to our families. We wanted to be together and they deserved to know, right? So we went back to Uttarakhand during our vacations. Once we reached, we parted ways to go to our respective houses and break the news to our families. I never saw him again.

My parents, let put it this way, almost threw me out. They screamed, cried, denied the reality and when I didn’t budge they asked me to leave. Here are the exact lines (as far as I can remember):

Dad: Is this some kind of a joke? It better not.

Mom: It’s just a phase. Don’t tell anyone about it, please…I beg you *sobs*..don’t tell anyone.

Sister: It’s because of all the Hollywood movies and TV shows he watches. They’ve corrupted his mind!

They said I’m not one of them, I’m abnormal and that I should leave. And I gladly agreed. I left. I left the family I lived with all my life. I called my boyfriend 100 times, but it was of no use. I went back, he never showed up to college. The teachers said he left, and nothing else. I gave up. I lived alone. I tried connecting to my parents. “I have no son,” said my dad. “We’ll find you a girl and all this will change,” said mom. And, 2 years later my boyfriend was married to a beautiful girl from our village.

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Look at the bright side- I got a masters degree from NIFT, opened my own boutique and my label is a huge hit. Every now and then you’ll see page 3 socialites strutting around in my dresses. The downside? My parents still don’t acknowledge my existence, even after everything I’ve achieved.

But hey, at least I’m not afraid to be myself right? You lose some, you win some.

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