I had always believed that you can’t control your thoughts, but you can control your actions. So when I wanted to punch my teacher in the face, it was alright to think that. What was important was that I didn’t act on it. I became a non believer of this philosophy when I started to think that I was gay. Even the thought was simply atrocious. I was a normal heterosexual girl and that was it.
I, just like any other high school girl, dated a fair share of boys. My first relationship lasted a month because, well, you know, it wasn’t really working out. The second one ended the day after we first kissed because I needed to focus on my academic pursuits ( and not because something just felt terribly off). And the third went on until I unzipped his pants. All of these guys were so great. But I felt so terrible when I was with them. And I always blamed myself.
I remember the first time I saw a naked woman in the movies. I definitely felt something. My 13 year old self never wanted her to put her shirt back on. But I convinced myself that it was because of all the adolescent hormones. A couple of days later, I searched for lesbian porn. I don’t actually remember how I talked my way out of that one. But I did. And I never dared to question it.
I had started to believe that love was a fallacy. That it had been romanticised so much that people had forgotten it’s true meaning: the innate desire to mate and reproduce. I looked at every relationship and thought “what a couple of idiots”. I had become a true cynic.
That’s when I met her. She was charming and funny and smart and gay. Super gay. I wanted to be her ‘friend’ so badly. And of course the fantasies I had about her were all purely platonic. We would have these conversations that went on for hours and we would go on long walks together and lay down on the grass and watch the stars. We would watch movies and hold hands and flirt. She would make me laugh and smile when I was with her, hours would fly by like minutes. All I ever wanted to do was make her happy ( and kiss her of course). But we were just friends.
Slowly but steadily, as I spent more and more time with her, I started to let go. I started to leave myself be and question my feelings and my sexuality and allow myself to figure out who I really was. It was difficult because I hated the word ‘lesbian’. I preferred something along the lines of straight-but-is-in-love-with-a-girl. Because being a ‘lesbian’ didn’t seem normal. It felt wrong to call myself that. But at the same time, being with her felt so fucking right.
After a lot of contemplation, watching YouTube videos titled “how do you know if you’re gay”, and midnight strolls with her, I finally decided that I needed to tell her that I was probably a lesbian and that I was definitely in love with her. It was the best decision of my life. At that moment, it didn’t even matter if she felt the same way. Just saying those words out loud to someone else legitimized all the feelings I had been having for all those years. I felt so free and alive. I just wanted to say it over and over again or just stand up and scream at the top of my voice “ I AM GAY”. I wanted to break free!
She told me that she felt the same way and since then, we’ve been dating for a year but I’ never got the chance to scream that. In fact, I haven’t even been able to tell all the people I know. I’m not complaining, dating her has been the most wonderful experience, but it hurts a little bit every time I have to let go of her hand when we leave the safe haven that is our hostel room.
We’ve told around 10 people that we’re dating. We’ve talked about coming out but we always reach the same consensus. People will say terrible things about us and nobody will look at us the same way again (let’s not even get into hate crimes), and that we’re just not ready for that. But I think our biggest fear has always been our parents’ reaction.
My mom’s opinion on the LGBTQ community has always been “let them do whatever as long as it doesn’t affect me” and my dad believes that it’s always just a phase. I absolutely love my parents though. They’ve always been my role models. And the thought of losing them over my sexuality keeps me up at night sometimes.
It’s hard living in a society that vilifies you for being who you are. Until recently, it even criminalised us. How are you supposed to have the confidence to share your love with people or kiss your girlfriend in public if at the back of everyone’s minds, you’re doing something illegal?
It’s getting better though. Article 377 was declared unconstitutional. That not only decriminalised gay sex, but also brought about so much awareness and love for the LGBTQ community in India. It also just made me and her so happy. It made us feel so much more accepted. And that may not seem like a big deal, but to a closeted gay person in India, it is.
Other good things have happened too. My sister, for one, has given me so much love and support . Some other friends have been really wonderful and their reactions have been extremely encouraging. So she and I are still hopeful that someday in the near future, we can be fully comfortable with ourselves and our sexualities and that some other day, our parents and our society can be fully comfortable with us too.