A family member once said to me that they’d be happy no matter who I marry, as long as it wasn’t another man.
They didn’t know I was gay, but it still hurt.
I came out to my parents and friends in my second year of university at the age of 20. It took me a while to accept it myself but with the support of my friends and housemates, the tears soon turned to smiles. I was finally able to come out of my shell, I started to drink socially, to go out and be more adventurous.
Slowly, I’ve learned to love who I am and when I’m at work or with friends in London, I feel like I get to be my true self.
The rest of my family don’t know, however. When I go back home, I put a filter on what I wear and say – short shorts, jockstraps and sassy moments stay firmly away. It took a lot for me to even start wearing my rainbow socks.
Every time I have to go back into the closet is a little bit harder than the last. It’s really tough.
Anyone who finds my topless selfies on social media knows I’m gay, and people who meet me can tell fairly quickly, but some of my relatives’ gaydars are so broken that, on top of the fact I’m quite the expert at playing straight again, they’ll never know until I do come out.
My secrecy also enables me to keep the relationship I have with them going, even if I don’t know what’s around the corner. And so far I’ve managed to trundle through, but when I see my grandparents and speak to other family members, they will often ask when I’m going to get married (to a woman, of course).
Sometimes this is in jest and I take it with a pinch of salt, but deep down, I know that there are likely to be problems later down the line.
It is getting increasingly difficult to hide my identity as I’ve come out more to other people and it often feels like a tightrope act
I am not certain how my wider family will react when I come out to them, but I predict the fallout will be hard, upsetting and difficult. Perhaps it will work itself out over time and open discussions but it could result in severed bonds, and that’s what I worry about the most.
I love my family, so I have decided I will only say something once I’m in a serious relationship that I think will last. Until then, it seems like dragging out a hornets nest unnecessarily and prematurely.
I would never want to change the family I’ve been born into, and no family is perfect, but still the pressure to impress and succeed in life is constant if you come from an Indian family, even if you are only half Indian like myself.
I have felt it in terms of my performance at school and university, in the jobs I have, and now in my love life.
At least I have been raised in a westernised nation like the UK – that makes the situation far easier for me. This country may have many faults, but it gives me more opportunities to be who I am, freely, without fear of being cast out from work or society.
For LGBTQ+ people in other countries, including India, being gay means a much harder life so I remain incredibly grateful.
Ultimately, I am proud of my heritage – but I’m also glad that I get to express my own truth.
It is getting increasingly difficult to hide my identity as I’ve come out more to other people and it often feels like a tightrope act – one I’ve grown accustomed to walking. The pressure my family puts on me to meet someone is doubled-edged because I’ve been single for a while, and I really am keen to be settled in a relationship.
I keep telling myself that one day, I’ll hopefully be in a place where I can be fully open and enjoy my life.
For now, I am acutely aware that I’ll never be genuinely content until I have a partner and prove to my family that my sexuality is a real thing, and that it makes me happy.
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