( In this essay Ganesh talks about his attraction to men and his concerns around the reactions his parents might face from relatives and society)
I have been pondering over some thoughts. This is a long posting and hence to be read with discretion.
I have a very loving family. My younger sister is also my best friend. My mom is my next best friend. I am not on the emotional/best-friendly plane with my dad, but we do share a bond of deep care and concern for each other. My elder sister, though married and not so easily accessible for chatting, is still very close and understanding and all in all I feel blessed. I miss my family while being away from them and these days I see myself looking for an excuse to visit them whenever I can.
When I am with friends and we all often recollect our childhood memories, I would see that we all have gone through the same kind of phases and – shall I say – sh*tty treatment, more or less. But often I do notice some very non-typical traits in me, for example somewhere around my sixth grade, when I was barely 11 years old, I knew I was attracted only to guys. and I had zero confusion about that. I could also deduce then that marriage was not for me.. Nothing unusual, just that I haven’t met many people to whom all this came so early.
From then on, I have never doubted what my sexuality was, or if I should ‘reconsider’ attraction to girls. Of course I went through all the sh*t of being different, feeling like an oddity and being uncomfortable in my skin, that most us have been through. But the point that I want to make is that I had always accepted myself. Rightaway. As time was passing, I was noticing an entirely different world around me. A world that was not only attracted to the opposite sex but I noticed, saw and perceived things a little differently. A world that ridiculed me for not liking cricket, for liking arts-and-crafts and for being just so non-sporty.
To drive the long story short, with these early episodes, I became immensely comfortable of being ‘different’ all the time, because that had become a daily routine from I dont know when. It slowly evolved into pride. A defiant pride of being totally remorseless of what I was and being absolutely non-chalant of all the ridicule around me. As I look back I can see that this is the pride that has grown and matured into one that is more identifiable with our community, the pride of celebrating ones sexuality and the freedom to love. I also see it sometimes bordering on political lines and seeking human-rights and freedom in law’s words. But only sometimes. It is more content in just being absolutely remorseless about what it is. Long term abuse/ridicule has made it somewhat indifferent to the people/society around.
Now why I said so much about my pride is that, there was strong source for it. A self established source that spawned the pride out of deep self-acceptance and a vehement remorselessness. Mostly, as the case would be, my family did not go through all this with me. They did not see or feel the ridicule. They did not go through the difficulties of being ‘different’.
I recently came out to my Mom. We had a long and fulfilling discussion. I had trips planned all around with her, and we got ample opportunity to munch, discuss and re-discuss the details and the consequences.To summarize, she was very accepting. She was ok with my sexuality and ‘difference’, but she was very worried about the marriage part. Or perhaps I should say the life partner part.Of not having anyone to take care of me when I will be – you know that cliche- old. It was difficult to convince her that a male ‘partner’ could be just as much as a wife. She is slowly trying to understand and I am positive that she will be ok with time. I sometimes ponder on the marriage question. What will happen when all my old relatives, carrying a visage-of-concern, will swarm around and discuss marriage; and keep asking and prodding me and my mom like their life depends on it. Up until now I would have definitely loved to tell them that I want to marry a man and show them the door. But now I am caught wondering, as how it will be to my mom. I am convinced that as a loving parent she had to accept me. But does she really have to feel ‘proud’ about it? Why? and if she does, what is the source of the pride? That I am her son? wouldn’t that be a little phoney?..They accept us because we are their children and they love us, but do we have the right to claim that they should very proud of it? I have a strong reason to be proud. I can’t help but be proud after all I have been through. But she has’nt been through any of it or seen any of the ridicule..she of course feels bad that I had to face all of it, but 15 years of every-day cannot be fed into a person. They can sympathise but not empathise….but I am affected by these questions, because it implies that they have to cut their relatives (I am not counting much on the very far-fetched ‘accepting relatives’ possibility) and just comfort themselves that they are proud of their children..which I think is pretty phoney…
But i would love to hear if others have different opinions.
I feel that by dodging the marriage question head-on, I am isolating my parents from their social circle, and that it is totally un-fair to them, as their social cirlce is a very strong support system for them. And if people on the list and their parents have succesfully/un-successfully dodged this marriage and relatives conundrum then I would love to hear their accounts also.
Ed: a response from Ani’s father is linked on the Parents, Family and Friends Page here.