I can’t exactly tell when I came out to myself because as a child I always knew I was different, I loved playing around with my sister’s stuff, draping mom’s sari when other boys of my age were more interested in Cricket and Karate. I never felt weird doing these things because no-one in my family made it awkward for me. I attributed my feminine hand gestures to my Bharatnatyam classes. Yes occasionally my dad used to get pissed off with my antics but that was temporary.
And then I moved to Chennai from Delhi for my engineering degree. I found myself getting attracted to boys sexually and I had a series of flings, affairs, and heartbreaks. The men with whom I got involved were all confused and closeted and had various excuses- I love girls but this is fun, this is the first and the last time (but it was never the last one :P). I myself was confused about why these things were happening, even tried to have a relationship with a girl to see if it was just curiosity from my end.
And then 2009 Delhi HC judgment came out and I started reading a lot about the community. Reaching out to people from the community. By the end of 2010, I knew I was gay but somehow there was a guilt factor attached to it. Post my engineering, I started working and things remained much the same.
During this phase, my sister helped a lot. Being a scholar in gender studies, it was easy for me to approach her with all the queries. But I never had the courage to come out to her. Then I joined MICA, Ahmedabad in 2012 for higher studies. The place helped me to liberate myself from the shackles of guilt, confusion and much more. I came out to my sister and to my close set of friends in December 2013. It felt so much better to unmask your hidden feelings and be what you are.
And then I slowly started coming out to my friends and I was amazed that my sexuality didn’t bother them at all. We joke about it, we all go to gay parties and have fun. My friends and my sister have been a huge pillar of support. And I feel super lucky to have them. I tried to come out my parents last year and I hoped too much drama to happen, but it was a total anti-climax. They didn’t react and we haven’t discussed it after that. I guess they knew that I am different and they are ok (it’s completely my assumption) but because of the societal pressure they just want to keep things as they are. Currently, I work in the fashion & entertainment industry and my colleagues know about my sexuality. I feel people working in this sector are more open to these things and it makes me feel safe. Initially, I thought I won’t be sharing my coming out story, but I realized how important it is not for me but for others to know that you are not the only one. I know many in my circle of friends who are either bisexual or gay or queer but don’t want to come out of the closet. I feel sad and angry at the same time seeing them. If you yourself are not OK with who you are, how can you expect others to understand and respect you?
– Rahul Gopi