Disclaimer: The following article has been submitted to T5E by an alum. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of T5E.
“You can say it out loud. Don’t feel ashamed” my friend said to me, emboldening me to spit out the last word in the sentence I was struggling to complete that started to form lumps in my throat. I called her at around 1 am behind SAC, after the noisy GPL gumbals had dispersed to tell her something. It was quite ironic because apparently she thought I was going to ask her out.
Back when I was in 2nd year, I was your quintessential insecure kid who made a long mental list every morning of things he should be worried about – PORs, acads, internships, projects. Little did I realize that I was subconsciously trying to overcompensate for the day when the world would find out my deep dark secret that I’ve been trying so hard to contain that it almost started to look like a bunch of latecomers locked outside CRC 101 trying their best to get in without the prof noticing – a painful struggle.
She finally got me to say the word “gay” out loud and I felt like the latecomer who successfully made it into CRC 101 after that. Everything from that day just got better and almost made the struggle seem worth it.
Up until then, I always discounted the importance of wearing my sexuality on my sleeve just like how every closeted individual does. To me, it was a dimension that I didn’t mind hiding from people. Why should the person I’m talking to know what gender I’m attracted to? How does it matter if they know about my sexual preferences? – were the kind of questions I’d console myself every time I felt the urge to come out. But that night when I returned back to Alak from SAC and hit the bed, I slept having to worry about one person lesser for whom I’d have to do a good job of containing my secret and reminding myself on how I must continue this ordeal the next day. I won the ticket of freedom from being conscious about what I said, the opinions I put forth and the peace of mind to not have to lie in case I slipped while maintaining this façade – all tiny factors which were inconspicuously consuming my confidence inch by inch.
It’s not wrong and it’s not your fault
I would’ve liked to also add “it can’t be changed” in that subtitle, but that would be false because a few legitimately go through phases. However, if you’re shunning off your sexuality and feelings as a phase and clinging on to the false hope that it’s all temporary without giving yourself a serious shot at evaluating and experimenting then you’re not headed in the right direction.
The bottom line is that your sexuality is a dimension to your personality and there is no one to be blamed for what shape it finally takes.
Reconciling with this dimension of yourself is the first and most crucial step of even making an attempt to kick your way out of the cocoon. There are a plethora of articles on the internet and a few google searches can put you out of your misery.
Surround yourself with supportive individuals
Even if you haven’t come out to the people around you, it is imperative that you wisely choose the friends you make. For closeted individuals, having members of your friend circle make snide remarks about someone’s sexual orientation is yet another tiny inconspicuous confidence eater. It won’t always be easy to distance yourself from someone based on these grounds – but it’s the least you could do for your mental peace if you’re not coming out.
I have a litmus test that I run on people I interact with often which helps me assess how supportive they are.
Questions like – “What did you think of Ayushmannn Khurrana’s gay role?” in a casual conversation are typically what constitutes the litmus test. If the person fails I distance myself from them and if they passed, I’d do a few more for validation before I come out to them. I had a core group of 5 who passed the litmus test and knew about my orientation. If I’m able to wear my sexuality on my sleeve today and restore the confidence that I saw withering away – it is because of this core group and I owe everything to them. I’d strongly recommend that you make sure that the first person you tell will react positively as their reaction will play a crucial role in shaping your shaken confidence.
Don’t be despondent
If you’re feeling hopeless before even starting to consider the idea of telling someone – you should think again.
We’re living in a century where a homosexual man has a decent shot in the American Democratic Presidential Candidate race or where the electronics giant Apple is led by a gay individual who came out recently.
The world is getting more tolerant and you’ll feel better when you look up more such names who’ve ended up in places that are better than just okay. If you’re feeling despondent because your good friend didn’t pass the litmus test or you didn’t do your due diligence, came out to them and it ended badly – relax. You’ll come to realize that its best to bid farewell to people who are not supportive. My neighbour in the hostel and extremely close friend miserably failed the litmus test but I just had to tell him. Giving him a shot was worth the agony that went into deciding whether to tell him or not because he was merely unaware and just needed to be educated on the matter – which is the case with most Indians.
Lastly, it’s going to be okay.
During my year as Events Core in Saarang, my sexual orientation started to become a topic of gossip in insti. Although I was under the impression that I had reached a point where I couldn’t care about what people said – I got worried about whether Events might suffer during volunteer selection and whether I’d be able to get work done if people decided to not cooperate with me. Despite having crises emanating from all sides around us, my co-cores said “It’s going to be okay” – they were, of course, referring to my worry, not the crises.
Those few words of reassurance were enough to restore the confidence I suddenly lost in that moment and here’s hoping that this read helped you do the same.
If you’re going to be bed worried and overthinking about what you said and how you behaved today to make sure that all seals are shut tight over your sexual orientation, take a breath and relax because there will be a day when a kind human being will tell you – “You can say it aloud. Don’t feel ashamed” and things will get better. I promise.