Everyone should be able to honour their identity and sexuality with utmost pride. The LGBTQIA+ community has made dramatic parades in recent decades that have created a gratified sense of community. Whether you identify as a member of the community or are an ally, these coming-out stories will inspire you to walk with your head held high and love yourself for who you are and everything else you can ever be!
Rahul and Sushank’s Story
“It was love at first sight and we’re each other’s firsts.”
Rahul shares his coming out story – You always fear that once your parents find out, they’ll disown you. I came out to mine about 6 years ago – well, my sister actually did it for me, because we’re really close and I was just a little bit too scared. One day my mum said – “Your sister’s been saying you’re gay. Is this true?” and I said, “Yes, I’m quite tired of lying; this is who I am!” As much as she’s westernized, she’s still quite traditional as well, and no one else in our family had come out at that point, so I think she didn’t quite understand the whole concept and was really worried about what people were going to say. I expected my dad to be even more upset, but his actual reaction went like this – “If you’re happy, I’m happy for you.”
Rahul and Sushank’s story – About 4 or 5 years ago, I’d been doing a lot of dating via online apps, and I got to a tough point accepting that a long-term relationship may never work out for me. A couple of dates became friends; some weren’t ready to commit even if they said they were, or our personalities didn’t really connect, or there just wasn’t that spark. Nothing terrible or heartbreaking happened. It was just that nothing was quite gelling, and I had to face the scary thought that I might end up alone for the rest of my life. Then, and this always happens when you’re not looking, sushank came out of nowhere. He’d been in a relationship for 6 or 7 years, back in New York, which had broken up 3 or 4 years before we met. After that, he’d explored being with men, but, like me, he’d never been in a long term relationship with a man before.
We had our first date on 31st December 2017, and the rest is history. It was love at first sight. Our love for our families is something that made us connect right away. After dating for a year and a half, Sushank proposed to me on the 4th of July 2019. Sushank wanted the proposal to be intimate but also celebrate our love and freedom. What better day to celebrate than the 4th of July in New York? On our private yacht during the firework display, Sushank popped the question, and I ecstatically accepted. Sushank has made London a second home, and I have made New York a second home; hence the proposal was done in his hometown.
Yatin (Influencer and Mindset Coach)
I came out to my parents that I was a gay man around 15 to 16 years ago now! And I personally found it very difficult to tell my parents because I had no idea how they would react. As a young man, I remember seeing my parents’ reaction when there was a gay kiss on TV, this famous scene from a British soap opera called EastEnders where two girls kiss. I remember my mum saying how disgusting that was, and so I had this constant fear in the back of my mind that if I told my parents, they would react really badly. Initially, I thought I was bisexual, and so I went through a big phase of having internalized homophobia because I wasn’t sure how society would accept my sexuality either, and so it took me a lot of courage to actually realize that I was gay. Once I was sure I was gay, it was time to say it aloud to my parents!
I remember telling my brother first because I wanted to use him as a litmus test. After all, the way my brother would react would give me an idea of how my parents would react. I recall being away in India backpacking and doing charity work, and I was away for a year. The night I came back from India, I remember my mum asking me – “Son, do you want to get married?” I said – “No, Mum, I don’t want to get married.” and I remember the same day in the evening I told my brother because I had promised myself that within a week of my return, I was going to tell my family the truth! At that point, I really wanted to come out to my parents because I don’t like keeping things hidden from them, and it was like a huge burden for me, so I had to let it out someday!
I told him – “I am not going to get married because I am gay .” He laughed and thought that I was playing around, we both laughed for a good couple of minutes, and then he turns around to me and says – “Motabhai (older brother in Gujarati), are you serious?” And he gave me such a beautiful reaction; he said – “Look motabhai, you are my older brother, and I love you, nothing changes.” My brother’s reaction gave me a lot of hope that my parents’ reaction won’t be so bad. But, I still had no idea, so I had my suitcase packed, ready to leave if my parents threw me out of the house.
The following day, I was in the car with my father going to a shop, and my father asked me – “Son, are you gay?” It was quite shocking; I hadn’t said anything about it yet to my parents because I was planning to tell them on my own. Initially, I was like, “No, dad”, but the car journey was about 5 to 7 minutes, so I remember by the end of the journey, I was like, “Yes, dad, I am actually gay.” My dad turned around and said that he was not happy. So we went into the shop, picked up whatever we needed. When we came out of the shop, my father turned around to me and said – “You are still my son, but what’s going to be difficult is how society reacts and how your mother reacts to it.” My father’s reaction was quite lifting and heartwarming for me.
It was time to come out to my mom, so two to three days later, I finally told her – I remember sitting at the dinner table, and it was just mom and me, and I said – “Look, mom, I’ve got something to tell you.” She turns around and goes – “Are you gay?” and she just cried and started blaming herself as if she had done something wrong during her pregnancy or some mistake she had made in my upbringing. I said, “Look, mum, if you ever figure out what your mistake is, there are millions of mothers that would like to know theirs! There are millions of children that end up being gay,” I told her, “there’s no mistake. This is natural; it’s not about nurture nor upbringing; it’s how God has designed us.”
So the overall process of actually coming out took about a year where I used to bring up the topic about my sexuality every week and try to normalize the conversation. I used to talk about some famous media stars; about Hollywood and Bollywood gay-themed movies. I would bring resources home. It really felt like I was coming out many times over that period. However, it started to normalize the idea that I was gay. One of the things I know as a mindset coach is that if you come out once, having to expect your parents to accept you overnight is unfair. Some parents go into denial; some might ignore what you said. In my case, I had the conversation going every 2 to 3 weeks. Because I found that once the parents have accepted it, no one can say anything. Since then, my parents have been amazing. Once they fully accepted my sexuality, they walked the London Pride. They’ve helped me in the local community by meeting the parents whose children happen to be gay or lesbian, so it’s been wonderful!
Tushar (Self-taught Makeup Artist, Architect & Designer)
“We are not different. We all bleed the same, and we are all equally deserving of the right to feel happy and to feel loved.”
Growing up as a feminine boy in India was never easy. My entire school life, I felt misunderstood. I was bullied and harassed for not being ‘man’ enough. I spent my childhood suppressing my thoughts, suppressing my dreams, my feelings and trying to be invisible so that no one would know what I was feeling inside. Being in my own skin traumatized me. I’ve lived in fear my entire life. I was ashamed of the way that I was born. It didn’t happen until last year, and I saw people lose friends and family, and I realized how short life could be. I realized I couldn’t waste these precious years of my life hating myself. That’s when I discovered my love for makeup and decided to let go of what people thought of me. It felt like a rebirth. It took a while before I had the guts to wear it outside of my house, and, even then, I felt like everyone was staring at me. But then, the compliments started pouring in, and I rocked it with a degree of fearlessness I wasn’t completely accustomed to, and I was totally unapologetic. I finally realized that I could wear whatever I wanted as long as I loved it and wore it confidently.
To anyone reading this, I implore you to open your eyes, your hearts, and your souls because so many of our little boys and girls around the world are growing up in pain and fear, just like I did, because they are different. They are afraid to be themselves because their culture, society or family judges and shames them. Little kids are scared that their parents will not accept them because they were born different. You all have the power within you. All you need is to find and ignite it. Happy pride!
Somitro (Self-learned MUA)
“I did makeup and my father clicked pictures for me. This feels so special.”
Since my childhood only, I was made to feel different from boys of my age. But, I never understood why my classmates bullied me. By the time I was in 7th standard, I had realized that I was feminine and I was a gay man.
When I went to college, there was also this constant bullying by some people. I made some amazing friends who supported me, no matter what the situation was, but on the other hand, I also had some “friends” who just pretended that they supported me, but they used to mock and make fun of me.
I was in such a phase of my life where I couldn’t focus on my studies, myself, what’s right, what’s wrong, and I completely drained myself and lost confidence.
But, around January- February 2020, I started fresh by joining a BPO, and very luckily, I met some people who guided me through all the mess I had found myself in.
Last year I opened up to my parents. I expected a lot of drama, but I am blessed with such parents who were completely okay with who I am. The only thing they said to me is, no matter what you are, who you are, you will always be our child, and we don’t care about anything else.
This Pride month is very special to me because I am celebrating it with my parents.
Aman (Cancer Survivor, Writer, Bibliophile)
“For me, freedom is to be WHO YOU ARE”
I am Aman, and I identify as a bisexual man. I work for an IT company in Bangalore. I always knew that I was different, but never knew how till I realized it during my college days. I was dating a girl back then, and out of nowhere, my world got turned upside down when I met someone in the Delhi metro one fine day.
Thanks to cancer, it gave me a lot of confidence and a different way to look at and live life.
I started accepting and exploring myself in terms of my sexuality and femininity. It wasn’t until I confessed it to my flat mates and school friends that I was confident that I could deal with this because there will always be people who will love me for who I am. And boy, the journey has been beautiful – not to look down or call names because of my gender, sexuality, race, caste, religion, body, or other criteria you hold dear to define a human.
I am sure one day people will treat us like everyone else!
Rahul (Founder of Gandhinagar Queer Pride Social Club)
“I enjoy what I do for the community and hope to see a world where everyone is treated equally and with dignity.”
Coming out was never easy. Self-acceptance was even more difficult. But here I am, talking about my coming out journey!
By the end of my undergraduate degree in 2016, I was pretty much ok with my sexuality. Then I came to IIT Gandhinagar for my Masters, the place where my coming out began. I came out to some of my close friends; some supported, while others showed their backs. No complaints about them, though. I headed the LGBTQ+ resource group of IIT Gandhinagar, organized a multitude of events, and sensitized college students. This was really effective. Then I started working for the Queer community. In 2019, other members and I founded Gandhinagar Queer Pride, a group to provide safe and social space to the LGBT community. Since then, we have been organizing events, Pride parades, and helping the LGBT community in the city.
I came out to my brother five years ago, and he was, and still is, very supportive. I told my parents about myself in 2019. They had no idea about it, but they listened to me patiently. They had some concerns, but those concerns never dominated over their love and support. I am privileged that I have got such a supportive family. Now my work is not only limited to Gandhinagar but globally. I am working with InterPride in various capacities – Board of Director, Regional Representative of Region 19, and Co-chair of two committees.
Coming out is a journey to being your authentic self. Here’s to all the years of being who you are, flawlessly and unapologetically! As it is truly said: Why pick one color when you could have the entire rainbow? Happy Pride!