On Thursday, the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on Section 377, finally recognising the rights of the LGBTQ community by decriminalising gay sex (finally!) and it seems the legislative move is already effecting social change. The verdict was welcomed by the LGBTQ community with a whoop of joy and some more. But one of its most immediate effects was how it encouraged several members of the community to finally come out publicly—exercising, for the very first, the self-expression they were always denied.
One such coming out story is currently going viral on Facebook. Proclaiming his sexual orientation, Mumbai-resident Arnab Nandy shared a Facebook event ‘Came out of the closet’ along with a picture of his parents holding a placard reading ‘My son is not a criminal anymore‘. He wrote, “I am so gay today (literally and figuratively) as I am no longer a criminal.”
Detailing his journey of discovering his own sexual identity, Nandy added, “Everyone takes their own time to accept themselves. Thereafter it’s a journey of self-awareness and owning your personality traits. Two years ago I lived a life which was not letting me live like a free bird.” However, he says, once he started to mingle with other members from the community, he came to terms with his own self and decided to come out to his best friend.
“My life changed at the very moment. It felt as if a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. Soon I started coming out to my brothers I gained in college and their response was heart melting,” he wrote. Coming out to his parents, on the other hand, was a no-go as they “live in a conservative surrounding” and Nandy felt protective of their feelings. “It was hurting me to keep this within, but I didn’t want to be that selfish. Thus I took time and (when) the time was right, I got the courage to let them know about my lifestyle.”
Although the day he did decide to come out, the reaction from his parents was “not negative”, Nandy says, acknowledging his privilege as several families abandon, abuse and even try to “fix” their children, as some Subramanian Swamy-esque parents believe homosexuality to be a mental disorder.
However, for Nandy, September 6 was none of those days. He wrote, “Today, as I entered my home mom and dad gave me a tight hug and said in their happy face ‘Congratulations, son. Now, it’s legal,’ and I couldn’t help but let out tears of joy.” He added, “I learnt that my mother started sensitizing the folks around her. My Dad is a govt employee and this law was holding him back to fight for me in the fear of what such laws create in the mind of our parents.”
Nandy says his mother even asked him to “broadcast” the news to everybody, quipping that at least no one would approach her with marriage proposals for him. “She is my gem. From not knowing anything about LGBT to becoming a person sensitising the people around her… I am proud of her,” he wrote.
As historic as the judgement was, Nandy acknowledged that it would probably take a long time before India joins the list of countries where marriage equality is a reality. For now, dealing with the stigmatisation so that queer people do not try and fit themselves into a heteronormative society is the only thing he can hope for, he said.
“We are not asking for sympathy but a safe and friendly place to live in harmony,” he said, “Our lack of awareness, our assumptions, ignorance and phobias are killing our closeted friends. Let’s get to know about the LGBTQ community so that we don’t unintentionally be insensitive to our dear friends.”