Aniruddhan talks about his attraction to men in this story.
I start breathing.
One chill December morning I woke up with the feeling that this was the day. But I did not want to rush into it because I had this Doctoral Committee meeting looming large over me that day. I decided to finish that and tackle this in the evening. I knew my parents were guessing and wondering, given my sudden change of research area (Queer Literature) and the vehemence with which I was reading up – all those books and articles and sheets of downloaded poems lying around everywhere at home.
The doctoral committee thing, I understand, is usually a mere formality. But my supervisor had warned that mine might not be. And yes, it wasn’t. People on the committee were super-curious as to why I had chosen to work on queer writings. I defended my choice of topic in a way that impressed myself! Came home in the evening with this other task hanging over me like a huge mass of gray clouds, attached by tenuous threads to heaven, threatening to break down on me any time. After my customary cup of coffee, I paced up and down the house, with my knapsack still on me, wondering how to begin and where to. Then I switched on my computer, opened a Word document, and typed out all that I wanted to tell them…in a stream-of-consciousness fashion! I called my folks (mom, dad and sis) to my room. Asked my dad to read it aloud for everyone to hear. He probably thought it was one of my creative compositions that he was being asked to read out!
I could actually see them pale a bit when he read out the word “gay.” At the end of it , there was this sepulchral silence for a few minutes, all three of them looking at me, looking at each other, then suddenly having the air of being about to say something, and then not saying anything. My mom broke the silence: “Are you sure?” I said, “yes, I am.” She: “Ok! no problem. As long as you are sure of it. Well, sorry for taking these few minutes. I was a little unsettled. Though we are very enlightened in this direction, it is a whole new story to have it happen at your doorstep. That’s okay. No problem at all.” My dad: “Yeah. I do not have a problem. It is natural. Why have you even thought of possible rejection (I had, in that “declaration”)? How can we despise you? Nothing will change. Nothing at all.” By this time I was in tears. I generally need the slightest provocation!! Mom and dad opened out their hands, hugged me tight, and kept saying, “we love you, we love you.” My sister looked at me with tear-filled eyes that showed understanding and acceptance. It was such a relief. Such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
My folks have always known most of my friends – queer and non-queer. They now know my friends from my support group, Movenpick (now Orinam). Their demeanour towards these friends and me has not changed a wee bit after the ‘enlightenment.’ Most importantly they have not done the possible mistake of ‘suspecting’ all my friends of queerness. No. They have chosen not to privilege it in any special way.
They have overwhelmed me with their love and understanding. They now read all my creative. They ask questions. They genuinely want to know. They talk to me about safe sex. They now stand by me even as I go through subtle and pronounced harassments from several quarters. In all these months after the coming-out, several things have changed. I feel liberated. I feel free to talk about queer politics at home. I do not have to do anything under cover. But what has not changed is their love for me. I shall forever be grateful to them for that. They remain entirely beyond thanks because of the sheer inadequacy of the word.