What started as a phone call with me demanding gifts for my upcoming birthday, turned out to be one of the most emotionally vulnerable conversations I have ever had with someone. I have known him for 10 years now, almost half my life. From discussing class notes to supporting each other through brave career choices, we have been there. But never did we emotionally unmask ourselves fully.
Last night was very different. From discussing marketing strategies that new-age Indian start-ups are following, we moved on to deliberating upon how each of us has a set of paradigm beyond which we should try to look (I have been reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Then I put forward Brene Brown’s argument as to how vulnerability should be accepted, along with other emotions. He made a point that right or wrong is not always the answer and we better accept each other with our realities. I couldn’t have agreed more and I reassured him over this. Sensing that I may be acceptable of his reality, he told me, ‘I am gay‘. I went blank for a second but was flooded with joy and acceptance for the fact that my friend chose to understand himself, accept it and consider me worthy of knowing his truth.
He lied to himself about his orientation for past six years until last year, when he couldn’t take it anymore. Now, he is proud to be a part of the homosexual community and is on the journey to discover himself. He told me how when people ask if he was given a chance to change it, he simply refuses and says he wouldn’t change it for anything. He told me that his orientation has brought about a shift in the way he perceived and felt love. He is dating now and gets upset over the fact when they are denied a candlelight dinner table at restaurants. But he wants to live his truth, even if it is possible only in his small world.
In the times when people are so afraid to make a career shift when they dread it, he chose to fight against his lies and come out as who he is. The struggle is magnified by the fact that our society is completely unsupportive of homo-sexuality, deems it an illness, and isn’t even ready to address it. Legal battles for the LGBTQ community have not yielded any result in India.
Living half your identity discreetly is the only option left with people in my country. This is not just the case with the queers but also the ‘perfectly’ straight people who can’t take a call in life and stand up for themselves. I am at such peace to know that my friend had the courage. Courage, which actually means to share your whole story with your whole heart (courtesy – Brene Brown).
I want him and the other people out there to know that we are going to fight legally and socially for them, and for their rights to be themselves. It is a tough battle but we will fight it, for ‘us’.