Why don't you talk about this 21st century LGBT teen?
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”― Oprah Winfrey
The roughest phase for me in the twenty-year life that I have lived came as a realization at the age of fourteen, while I was watching Hollow Man in the then-new computer that my father had brought for me and my two sisters from my mother’s four-month teaching salary.
My fourteen-year-old friends’ description of some tasteful female nudity from Hollow Man led me to the movie. I was told that ‘it would get me going good’, and boy! It did not fail. The only difference was for me it was Kevin Bacon’s bare-back that did the magic.
I caught myself off-guard when I saw myself pause at Kevin disrobing his nightgown, and I knew I was in a lot of trouble. After years of taking mockery and insults, even before the realization came haunting, for just being myself- a lesser man according to societal conventions; I had realized that all of it was in-fact true- I had a gay part. My worst nightmare was my reality.
Since then, there has not been a single day in my life when I have not thought about my sexuality and to get through it, I have thoroughly educated myself on gender and sexuality as a result of my anxiety.
On multiple occasions, I have read some people in the glitters of the first-world- while they talk about sexuality- keeping the option of being called gay or the possibility of a similar conversation as a given. I am sad that the world’s reality is not so. Their narratives are social privileges, resulted from a recognized gay culture-in their entertainment, education, and political movements. But for millions of people like me, the sexual minorities of the third world, the other world’s reality is still a far-fetched fiction. And this needs to be acknowledged.
On a personal level, after years of self-denial and carrying the burden of realization, I have finally come in terms with myself. And I want to share a glance from the feelings that I go through in a day in my life as a twenty-first-century-born homosexual man living in third-world India. I hope to give you a perspective to the inequality throughout the world. Therefore, the reasons for keeping up the good work and to fight harder.
The death that comes out of confusion
There is absolutely zero conversation on anything sexual in the society that I grew up in. Here, from the very first day that you are born, you are looked at from the perspective of your gender, and the stereotypes associated with it is the only lens that people use to stare through. The child then spends their entire life satisfying the standards that are set for them, participating in the vicious cycle of expectations. Anything even slightly different is frowned upon.
The suffocation that comes with the endless string of stinging sleepless nights that breaks hell when alone and unheard is life-taking. I have lost three friends who ended their lives while still in the process of trying to cope up with their reality in the past year. I think about them every day.
The only escape is one’s imagination, Google, and the incognito window that tell tales of hope.
The constant fear of violence
Most parts of India still have a culture where people cannot digest the idea of a man and a woman being ‘just’ friends. We have bloodshed when couples marry between religions. There are dozens of honor killings, lynching, and witch hunt. Can you imagine what happens if there is a sexual relationship between individuals of the same gender? It’s diabolical.
Of course, the financially-privileged and/or higher caste families abruptly refrain from addressing such issues, and since they set narratives here, there is negligible conversation. The media houses are sold, and ignorance only makes the wound more agitated.
Realizing you have a different sexual orientation in such an environment is the last thing that the ‘less-masculine’ folks like me hope for. The feeling that comes with it, every time, is like a splash of freezing water during sound sleep — spine chilling. There is no room for expression. Bravery comes with a price that can cost almost everything to an already emotionally stunted person.
People who realize they have a sexual preference different from that of the majority, be it at any stage in their lives, go through many crippling episodes. They listen to their families talking about the impunity that are people like them. They read newspapers filled with many episodes of people murdered on the streets while the police relish the show.
They have to often encourage, even by remaining indifferent, the inhumane behavior of their friends while they mistreat or out rightly harass people just like them. Time and again, the wound is rubbed which makes them numb from inside. They end up cutting all the connections with the world, and if they survive, they isolate- terrified for their lives.
The reputation that carries south
From a great deal of research, we now know that the way society interacts within itself highly depends on the type of economic bracket they fall in. Roughly, the socio-economic standard and the interaction within a society are negatively related. In the context of the third world, we can see the relevance of this theory.
Sometimes everything can be everyone’s business here. So, people refrain from coming out to their preferences because of their understandable concerns about what their parents might think and abandonment. Mostly that fear is based on the pain and filth that the parents go through in the society. The parents are humiliated. This insecurity in a person is also inflicted by close relatives and parents. For instance- The very basis of a child’s performance (parent’s happiness) is, many times, the child’s class rank. So, when the whole source of your parents’ happiness is comparative, then disappointing them is always a cakewalk. This creates a very insecure childhood.
It becomes for both- the scarred child and the scared adult- to start any such conversation.
Self Esteem issues
After years of living a lie we start looking at ourselves as a fraud. Confidence takes a toll and goes deep south that even looking at people in their eyes creates anxiety.
Personally, I have days when I want the day to end as soon as it starts. The disturbed mind comes to a point where I become my biggest foe. There is continuous soul-scratching torture from the feeling of being incomplete and the fear of getting caught. The hiding leaves me completely worn-out.
I hope this gives an idea of how pressurized people within the close societies of the third world feel. It has been quite some time since the world has started to talk about sexual identities, but it has only scratched the surface of the social, psychological, and legal work that needs to be done. It is a very long journey, and I hope to see all of you alongside.
Thank you for reading!
Sending you love and warmth.
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