Agniva Das

Since I was a little boy, I knew I was different from others. The searing critiques of homophobia all over society always made me feel vulnerable. Whenever I was attracted to a boy, I used to punish myself. I used to ask God every day – “Why am I not normal?” I felt my sexuality as a shadow that lurked in the dark and wished light could chase it away. These feelings had made me feel indifferent and had caused so much pain that it was difficult to breathe. But it was my truth and it became clear with time that there was no use of running away from it. Being from a small town in West Bengal, there was never even a piece of basic knowledge about the queer community. According to the convention, if you were a boy, you would be attracted to a girl and vice-versa. Anything else apart from this was forbidden. I was always scared to let people know my actual self. I would always try to avoid people around me and spend my time playing with animals. That’s how strong the fear of judgment was to my innocent mind at such a tender age. I started hanging out with girls more, just to be a part of the so-called “normalcy”.

After graduation, I moved to Kolkata for work. I started going out with a boy. It was my first relationship and so when it broke, it hit me hard. I fell into depression for a long time. It affected my mental as well as physical health.

I moved to Bangalore to pursue my MBA and was staying away from my family. The sparkle of the city had hope of a better future. Though Bangalore was more accepting as compared to my hometown, the fight was still there. I lost 15kgs of weight. My friends would ask me the problem, but I would never open up to them because of the fear of judgment. I was away from my home and if people didn’t accept me here, I would not have any place to fall back. Slowly, I started attending events for LGBTQIA+. I realized there were people out there who were like me and it’s was okay.

Before going out to the world, I had to accept myself. It took me 25 years to admit to the feelings that had always been there. Things got a little better eventually. I came out to my mom and my sister. They didn’t understand it right away, but they accepted me for who I am. My dad still doesn’t know about it. After some time, I fell in love with my current partner. Love is truly bliss and I understood it when I fell head over heels for my partner. We would roam around the city, exploring exquisite cafes and beautiful scenic places. We were in long-distance for 3 years but there wouldn’t be a day where we didn’t talk. We are just like any other couple except that we don’t have the legal and social advantages that heterosexual couples have.

The initiative of today can result in a better future tomorrow. My current organization is India’s first organization to work exclusively work for the LGBTQIA+ community. We had hosted 3 successful job fairs for queer folks. We also conducted the Pride hackathon, which was the first time in India. I love how vocal my organization is towards the queer folks and it really does give them the confidence to be themselves. I am part of the hiring team, and as part of my job, I have come across so many heartbreaking stories. I have learned that whilst interacting with any one of the queer people, we need to be sensitive. They have been made feel dejected for who they are and it’s not easy for them to come out. We also have training for people joining our company to make them aware of different spectrums. Corporates can play a major role in changing the way how society treats queer people. We still have a long social and legal battle to fight for the basic rights of the community, but this can be the start.

Total Work Experience : 5 Years

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