I still remember the day I woke up in the morning and listened to my gut to start afresh. But for all that I know, I’d always grappled with my inner self due to my sexuality and gender. I now openly identify as pansexual and gender-fluid, but the journey to reach this good happy place has been a bumpy ride!
Given the stigma around the LGBTQIAP+ community, especially in India, the environment was never in my favor. As a kid, I was bullied for having the said “feminine” qualities such as dancing, drawing, sensitivity, and meekness. Creativity was the centerpiece of my heart; I automatically got attached to art and its exquisite forms. More often than not, I was shunned for pursuing these. It made me gaslight myself, and I began suppressing my emotions just to fit in. I used to love dancing but only did it alone in showers, away from prying eyes of people and their judgements. Having to pretend and maintain a persona catered to the obsolete gender norms of society was a traumatic ordeal, mostly because I had to shut the door to my feelings. I tried so hard but all I felt was misery.
I went into depression in my second year of college but gradually realized I was compromising my mental health by denying my honest expression. I eventually started reading more about all kinds of genders and sexuality spectrums. It helped me to discover I was pansexual and to accept myself. I had to toss out an entire foundation to deal with my identity crisis. But the phobia outside and gender dysphoria inside me led to thoughts of suicide. In 2018, when homosexuality was decriminalized (referring to IPC 377), I saw a glimmer of light in the dark. I’d still concentrate on anything else until the pandemic put everything on pause and I had nothing but time to introspect and confront my turmoil. I was spreading positivity last year by making videos and my youtube channel has over 24000 views now! All this while, I was off social media and the distance from the lens of society allowed me to dig deeper into myself.
The first person I came out to was my best friend in pride month of 2020. He has been incredibly supportive and is simply the best! I wanted to come out to the world but it took me almost a year to be ready. My peace of mind was essential, but so were my interpersonal relationships. I faced a lot of anxiety and stress daily regarding how everyone would react. As much as working at Cisco had seemed perfect before, I was unable to get satisfaction with my job. So last year, when I was helping my friend fill his CAT form, I too decided to give it a shot. And guess what? I passed with flying colors and earned a seat at IIM-A! Although clearing a competitive exam has very little to do with my sexual orientation, this milestone gave me confidence that I’d lost over the years. I garnered the courage to turn around my life and live truly as I am, never leaving it up to others’ expectations.
It was then I chose to tell my story. I wasn’t prolonging the calm before the storm of “coming out” as I’d thought earlier; living in the closet was rather the eye of the storm. I could breathe once I told my parents, close friends and bravely to the world at last. I was no longer misunderstood and the love people I cared about had for me remained the same. I’d gladly trade all the trophies I’ve won to win this battle against stereotypes sooner and get back the years I wasted hiding my queerness but I’m optimistic about the future. Coming out isn’t a moment of spontaneity, it’s something I have to do again and again to anyone I meet over the course of my life but I’ve got the strength and I’m proud to share my truth.
This rollercoaster has been a rainbow of sentiments for me. Was it all worth it? Without a flicker of doubt, it was! The knowledge of the spectrum is so limited that it is heartbreaking to see people struggling just to find permission to be themselves for something that is ideally normal. But times are changing, and I hope to contribute to change the times to be more inclusive and kinder. I believe the greatest gift you can give to others and you is freedom to show one’s real reflection.
Total Work Experience : 3 Years (Cisco)