Tag Archives: Gay Rights

How I Found The Freedom To Be Myself

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‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ a ninth grade English paper once asked me. It was a 20-mark essay, and I had 20 minutes to earn them. I rolled up my sleeves, and pulled out my cursive best.

The thing is, I wanted to be a great many things.

I wanted to be a chef, I wanted to be an actor, I wanted to be a painter, I wanted to be an astronaut, and for two weeks after I turned 11, I even wanted to be a National Geographic correspondent, if only because my older sister said that she wanted to be one. My essay – and the time allotted to write it – might have come to an end at this point, but my story didn’t. From the age of six to sixteen, I raced through changes. My styles, my sexual leanings and my haircuts changed, and so did my dreams.

Only, what did I never dream of being?

Myself.

All my years of adolescence, I had struggled to find myself, even though I struggled comfortably – I was so used to push my problems under a hypothetical carpet, and pretend they didn’t exist, that I never realized the lies I was hoarding up – little white lies, they wouldn’t hurt anyone, would they? It was an easy, lazy life.

I used this complacency as a security blanket, and wound it around myself whenever thoughts of the future terrified me. What would coming out (as a gay man) be like? Would it be a cakewalk or a walk down the plank? Would I have to talk about my feelings? Would I have someone to talk about my feelings to (a fair question, because I grew up thinking that you were only allowed to talk about your feelings at expensive therapy sessions, sappy book clubs or when watching romantic tearjerkers)?

Growing up was always a mark of independence – no more school, no more staying at home, no more rules, no more restrictions, no more getting worried over your mother’s eighteen missed calls (well, almost) – it seemed like a technicolour dream, being so free-spirited. But honestly, I didn’t know what I would do with all the freedom. Independence (or the mere thought of it) petrified me. What would I do being free?

Would I finally have to be myself?

People are terrified to be themselves, especially when bravery is an option, and not an obligation I’ve been called manipulative, selfish, a coward, a sore loser. Why would I want to be myself then? I’d rather be someone nicer and more admirable; I’d rather be someone else.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Some enjoy the peace that comes with accepting who you are, but most of us waltz on the fence in the middle. Take sexuality, for instance. We can stir ourselves to walk free and fabulous, but we’d rather stay safe and sound in the cage of heteronormativity. I made myself feel at home in the cage till I was twenty-one.

The thing about independence is that it doesn’t come gift-wrapped and express delivered to your front doorstep. It needs to be earned, or fought for.

Coming to terms with your sexuality and stepping out of the closet isn’t easy – especially when in a country like India, where minds can be as narrow as Bandra’s bylanes, even if you are an upper-class well-educated man (and sometimes, especially if you an upper-class, well educated man). Everyday life is a battle. As countless films and American television shows have told us, you don’t just wake up one morning and walk out into the sunlit world. To reach the closet door, you need to push through your woolens, those ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ shirts you bought on an impulse but will never wear, and the odd tangle of smelly socks, greying underwear and smutty novels you don’t want your mother to find. It will be tough, especially if you’ve been hoarding – and holding back – all your life.

And even when you do, it’s a never-ending process – those closet doors that everyone talks about? They are revolving. Week after week, you will find yourself coming out to friends, family, acquaintances, and (occasionally) drunken strangers at the bar. Perhaps one day it will not be the big deal that it is today, and you won’t have to worry whether your words are followed by a kiss to the cheek or a punch to the mouth. Every new acceptance is a fresh slice of independence, and you’ll wolf it all down without worrying about empty calories or complex carbs.

It will be liberating, the way you feel after you’ve survived a last-minute clearance sale. Only this is the clearance sale of regrets.

Fortunately, my personal coming out story reeks of acceptance and Hallmark cards – it happened at the dinner table, one Friday evening back in early 2015, over cups of chamomile and desiccated coconut biscuits. I sat my parents down, and told them everything in a diligently rehearsed 17-minute monologue.

In 18 minutes, it was done.

Questions were asked, hugs were exchanged, a tear was shed (that would be me). My mum went for a walk with her friends, and my dad continued solving the crossword puzzle. They accepted it with a simple shrug (and lots of love and support over the next couple of years, but this is the not a story about that). My sexuality was just another fact.

What about the war of words I had been expecting? The emotional bloodshed? The years of torment at the hands of society? They never came, even though the history books said that they would. Times are changing, and somewhere over pop culture references and more inclusive media representations, my parents and peers had changed as well. The history books had it wrong.

What they did get right was this – freedom felt liberating.

The freedom to stay single. The freedom to be a sexual deviant. The freedom to wear a skirt (if you are a man) or a jersey (if you are a woman). The freedom to wear both. The freedom to wear neither. The freedom to never find your way back home. The freedom to stay in for the night, with Netflix and a bottle of wine (that would be me again).

What do we do with the freedom then? Do we let it consume us? Terrify us into never seeking it out?

We do neither. We simply unwind and enjoy it with a cup of tea.

Preferably chamomile.

 

 

 

 

#PrideTalk: 21 (Fabulous) Men Tell Us Why We Need To Walk For Pride

 

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What’s that faint buzz that you hear (and feel in your bones)?

That’s the sound of Mumbai gearing up for its tenth-ever Pride March – and it’s charging up as you read this sentence. In a few hours, thousands of straight, gay, bisexual and transgendered folk will take to the streets for their right to love, their right to live, but most importantly, their right to be.

But are these numbers enough?

As these thousands take a stand and do their bit to make a difference, countless others choose to sit #Pride out instead  (and their excuses are equally abysmal.)

Which is why, to honour the day and prove how important the cause is,  I asked 21 different men why walking the talk was necessary. The answers poured in from all over my little black book — from actors and illustrators, journalists and doctors, entrepreneurs and bankers.

They even poured in from my Tinder account.

Jokes (and accusations) apart, here’s what the men had to say:

Simply to stand up, and be counted. Wear a mask if you don’t want to be identified, but go nonetheless. Experience it and contribute to it, in however small a way.

Each attendance counts. 

— Varun, fashion editor

For one reason — continuum, because we owe it to our future generations.

The liberties that we enjoy today, the relative ease of coming out, the parties, the social acceptance, are all a result of  the social movement built over decades by people who had to face ridicule and discrimination.

It’s only imperative that we continue it all and play a role for furthering the cause for future generations.

— Aman, health professional

To spread awareness about the fact that it’s not a taboo to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. As a community we are extremely prone to protesting AGAINST something, but rarely in favour of anything. If more and more people walk the Pride, the other margin of the society who still think that it’s a taboo, will get to know that if a large part of the society is supporting a small community, it ‘probably’ isn’t taboo anymore.

Since the fear of homosexuality is so deeply rooted, primarily because of our attitude of rarely doing anything out of social sanction, the society in general needs to walk the pride and tell everyone how they accept homosexuality, in turn telling everyone else that it is ‘normal’ to be homosexual. The more the people, the more the acceptance, the lesser the fear of taboo.

— Paarth, filmmaker

The sole reason we need to walk the pride is to create awareness. To be taken seriously. To help explain that homosexuality isn’t a disease or abnormality you can cure, but an orientation.

— Sumeet, fashion designer

I think everyone should walk the Pride, whether they belong to the LGBT community or not  — straight, gay, bisexual or transgendered,  if you support us it’s time to take some time out, show those numbers to the society and show your level of acceptance to the government.

— Rehan, screenwriter

To show the world that queer people exist.

And that we exist in large numbers.

— Ujjwal, PhD student

Pride March to me is a yell of existence; we’ve been hidden in the dark for so long we need to be in the light so that no one has to live in the dark anymore.

Not just this time, but for many more times to come.

— Arnav, video editor

A Pride March is (still) one of the very few places and ways queer people can own and express their identities. And if we want the conversation around equality, rights and non-discrimination going, we cannot afford not to be visible.

— Jacob, writer

This year, our numbers need to be visible even more, especially since the political class needs the stats to even consider us to be any kind of vote bank.

— Anand, marketing executive

The reason why I love Pride (apart from the free service eye candy) is because, like almost all queer people in our generation, there had been a long period of feeling alone in my experience.

It’s a shell that is very tough to break out of.

That feeling of being the only one to live something so different was so heavy, I would not go even to gay parties for fear of being singled out. Which is exactly why — when I went to my first Pride after much contemplation — I was overwhelmed. It was a cathartic experience that heavily soothed this feeling of being the only one queer that I knew of.

Since then I have been going to at least one Pride a year. It is impressive because despite all this ‘growing’ that has happened since the first time, it is STILL a cathartic experience every single year. It shows to what extent we are unable to find things to relate to in the quotidian life.

And that is exactly why I will continue to go to pride. Apart from being the lovely celebration that it is of being yourself, it is a day when you contribute to the visibility of SOGI rights.

And this aspect holds not only for queer people, but also for everyone else. It is an opportunity for any ally of SOGI rights to make his/her/their own contribution by showing their support.

— Kaushik, research scientist

The single most important reason to march for Pride is to make sure the judiciary, the government and the country knows that we are not a minuscule minority, and that our rights matter.

We are not criminals (and never will be) and have the same rights as any other Indian citizen!

— Maanav Dev, restaurateur

To get a sense of community beyond what one might see on apps — there’s strength in numbers and if we want change at an institutional level, we are going to need our voices heard!

— Siddharth, academic and translator

Because it’s important that people see that we exist. That we exist in different age groups, that we are queens and that we are butch. We have beards and we put on make up, we wear heels and we have moods — and that’s just the gay men!

We are so much more with the LGBTQ community put together.

— Laksh, digital entrepreneur

The struggle for LGBT equality is a long and tireless one. Over the years, as societies have relatively evolved towards us, the LGBT community has regressed in its understanding of the long battle people have fought for this world and leaders to have conversations around ‘homosexuality’.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, George Cecil, Jeanne Manford, Harvey Milk and others who shaped this movement in times so difficult and extreme have been conveniently forgotten… sadly most LGBT youth would hardly even know them. How can we celebrate our ‘gay-ness’ when people in authority, like Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya, pledge to persecute gay men or when statesmen in the Middle East criminalise and dehumanise us?

Our celebration lacks recognition and acknowledgement of this ongoing journey but remains a mere annual social gathering that fails to make any concrete statement beyond a single day’s headline. At the Stonewall March, there were no floats, no music blasting through the streets, no extravagance, body glitter and scantily clad dancers: it was a political statement and a test!

We’re working against deeply ingrained social mores that have been around so long no one even remembers how they got there anymore, and a visual of loud and proud, yet naive and un-informed men and women chanting and screaming and kissing is not going to cut it.

— Kartik (name changed), social worker

People should come out and show solidarity because in one way or the other, we have all shared the same (or similar) experiences while growing up.

A young LGBT kid, unable to understand or cope with his own desires, often one feels alone. Unable to talk to someone about it coupled with the feeling of isolation potentially scars each one of us. The pride parade and consequent publication of articles, photos and media coverage of the parade can, to my mind, lend immense support to a kid struggling with his/ her own sexuality.

I sure wish the concept existed in Delhi during my adolescence.

Additionally, often times such coverage of the Pride parade tends to focus on men in drag and other elaborate attire while ignoring the huundreds of people who are from the community and at the march, the ones who choose to dress more — for lack of a better word — conservatively. While I fully support everyone’s right to be themselves and dress as they wish to, the sole focus on the stereotypical ways of the parade, to my mind, takes away from the seriousness of the parade and the issues involved. As responsible citizens, the journalists/media must focus on the core issues, as opposed to just restricting their coverage to attention grabbing colorful pictures and headlines.

— Ansh* (name changed), lawyer

The word Pride itself suggests the whole purpose of why one should step out and join the march.

For someone who has ‘pride’ in his/her orientation, it becomes integral to participate and send the right message; so that acceptability (and more importantly, awareness) becomes more commonplace.

— Tushar, architect

To show the world that  we are not a bunch of crazy colourful people — we are doctors, engineers, artists, your co-workers, your brothers, neighbours, the person you think is your idol — for all those men  hiding in the closet because YOU make me an outcast for coming out of one.

— Karan, fashion entrepreneur

Visibility.

For too long gay men and women have been poured in casts of assumed professions, temperaments, and allowed limited places in everyday lives. People need to come out to represent diversity — cis, trans, gay, straight, femme, masc, camp, or even butch… but remain unapologetic, at the end of the day. We need enough representation for younger lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and straight people to find a bit of themselves in us, just so no one feels alone.

For too long we have been assumed minuscule, when owning our authentic self is every person’s dream.

— Anuj, consultant

Pride is not only limited to LGBT community but it is for all the oppressed sects of the society. So, if you think you are not exercising your freedom right, it is your one-way ticket to Utopia.

— Prashant, sales executive

To show people that we can protest with love and without waging a war.

But more importantly, because each voice counts.

— Vikas Narula, restaurateur

People, gay or not, should walk the Pride March this year to show that even while the country is in a state of turmoil over a movie screening that pushes India back in time back in time rather than moving forward, there’s a united front that wants change and people who are ready to be a part of the process to bring that change.

— Raghav, banker

What I Mean When I Say I have A Gay Voice

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Over the years, I realised I have had a lot of talents.

I can roll my tongue, impersonate a pigeon (my head tut is phenomenal), fly a kite without any help, and most importantly, lie my way through a resume even when I am asleep.  It’s a lot for one person.

But faking a baritone is clearly not one of them.

I realised my voice was softer (read: more girly, for the masses and the misinformed) at a very early age. Being all of eight, I wasn’t great at pretending to be someone else (at least back then), and booming out like a blue whale wasn’t something they taught at kindergarten. I chose the only plausible solution.

Silence.

I would reluctantly answer questions in the classroom (or avoided the teacher’s eye), never yelled out to friends across the road (either out of surprise, joy or an incessant need to go slap them across their faces), and would pretend to be ‘shy’ in front of people I didn’t know. It’s lovely how many things you can pass off; when you tell people you are an introvert.

But there would be times when I’d forget, and my shrill voice would ricochet out like a distress call, in multiple high-octaves and increasing pitches. And then the hushed whispers would come, empty sniggers from emptier souls. ‘Why do you sound so nasal?’ my friends would laugh, and I’d retort with a stiff-lipped jab about my ‘respiratory problems that they’d never understand’.

That would silence them all, up until I changed schools, and changed bullies along with them. I’d come up with new reason every single time, but they’d all get shot down (or laughed at) in a week or two.

Over the next two decades, I grew up — and grew out of these insecurities (and my shrill, pre-pubescent voice). I’d learnt to adapt the way I spoke to whoever I was speaking to, and I used it like a shield.

I’d conveniently gruff up with a North Indian accent while speaking to a male colleague, and soften up with a breathier, breezier Mumbai undercurrent while chatting up an acquaintance. I reserved my ‘it’s-too-loud-in-here-to-hear-you’ blur solely for my mother.

Only my close friends got the real version of me. Highly excitable.

But yet, my voice was, and is…still the same?

It sounds worse on the phone, solely because I suffer from a recurring nightmare where I have to hear my voice on an answering machine on loop — which only makes it an every day affair with telemarketers.

‘Hello, madam? Can we interest you in a home loan…’

‘Dear Miss! Vodafone has an exciting new offer for you….’

‘Yes, ma’am. Do you want to try our double cheese burst special with that?’

I’d gruffly tell them I was man, and hang up.

Truth be told, I hated the way my voice sounds, and I absolutely hate that I hated it, and I hated the way that a voice like mine was usually hated. It’s a hamster-cycle of hate, only here the proverbial hamster (read: me) was running on a wheel of increasing decibels.

It’s the same as shrinking away from something that is even remotely effeminate -— including pink linen shirts, Cosmopolitans and peroxide hair — but what are we so afraid of? To sound like ourselves, or to be ourselves? Generations of (gay) men have cleared their throats, deepened their voices and raised their walls so that they could reek of everyone’s favourite perfume.

Toxic Masculinity, by you. I wore it proudly myself.

And then everything changed a few months ago.

I was meeting a few friends for a reunion halfway across town. It was a champagne-fuelled brunch, and everyone (including me) was buzzed and giggling, as people at champagne-fueled brunches are wont to. There were kids running around and playing with their tablets, like kids are wont to. In the midst of an extremely ribald joke that I am not very proud of, one of my friend’s kids tugged at my trousers. It was a little boy in blue, holding a tablet in one hand, and a Transformer doll in the other.

‘Why does your voice sound like a girl?’ the little child asked me curiously. I’ve never really liked little children — they are cocky, brash and solely rely on their cuteness to get away with inappropriate things — sort of like the quintessential f**kboy, only two decades younger. Call it an occupational hazard of being a gay person.

But yet, it had come back, the fear — it had followed me all the way out of every classroom and playground, and come back to haunt me almost two decades later. I felt like I was in school all over again. My facades went up, just like my voice had a few moments ago.

“Because that’s how my voice sounds when I am drunk,’ I said to him shamelessly, ‘It’s my happy voice! Your mum has one as well!’ (Sue me for being scathing.) We all laughed aloud, because it was all in good humour, but the mother avoided me for the rest of the evening. I compensated for her absence with three extra mimosas. (Side note: The mother wasn’t that close a friend, so the jabs were all well founded.)

But that’s when it struck me. People might say it is not, but my voice is gay (but not in the derogatory slur kind of way, but in a more empowering sort of way), just like the rest of me. Let’s get it straight. Do you know what you sound like when you laugh at someone for having ‘the’ gay voice?

An asshole.

Just like the fact that people come in all shapes and sizes, voices come in multiple octaves and tones. Some men sound like a double measure of single malt, some men sound like fingernails on a blackboard. Some men sound like twittering birds, some men sound like mean tweets by trolls. We are all born with our vocal chords, just like we are born with our sexuality.

And it’s high time we learn to deal with it.

At least I plan to. If it’s a dead giveaway that I am gay, so what? I think being a homosexual is pretty cool. I’ve got too much to say, and that is exactly why I won’t stop talking.

And neither should you.

#PrideGuide: Every Possible Bro’s Guide For Attending Delhi’s Queer Pride

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This Sunday is a special day.

Is it my birthday? Is it the day Ryan Gosling finally tells me he loves me? Is it the day I inherit a trust fund? Is it the day I find the miracle cure to obesity?

No. It gets better.

Today is Delhi’s Queer Pride Parade – the city’s tenth, with more than 7000 people marching in from across the city (and the world) – it’s the day we all get to stand together for equality. Stand together for basic rights. Stand together for love, but most importantly; stand together because we make a really good-looking picture.

That includes you, straight folks. Are you a red-blooded heterosexual who doesn’t understand why he needs to walk the talk? (‘Why do I need to meet gay guys?’ the average straight bloke would guffaw in my face, ‘How will it help me?’)

Support for your LGBT friends aside, here are four selfish reasons why you need to keep those PlayStations away and start walking for Pride today:

  1. We’ll motivate you to join the gym if you haven’t already.

Let me tell you a secret. We got to Cross Fit when you were still struggling with crunches – it’s no surprise that gay men are more aware of their bodies than their straight counterparts. We might come in all shapes and sizes, but we’ll still make sure we look the best version of ourselves whichever way we are packaged – we are giftwrapped with gym memberships and protein supplements.

And we also do Pilates. Forty-five minutes at Pride can do what hours of staring at fitness videos on YouTube can’t. After that, a few months of motivation is all you need to end up looking like the next big underwear model.

  1. Get style advice straight from the expert!

When your idea of making a style statement is cycling through your three Zara shirts with a pair of cream khakis, you need help. I am not saying every gay man is a writer with GQ magazine, but when it comes to fashion, we have the common sense not to wear socks with our sandals. Pride walk is the fashion parade that tells you what works and what doesn’t.

Want to know what colour belt works with your Italian shoes? Do stripes really go with spots? What’s the point of wearing a bow tie? Now you know whom to turn to, oh sweet summer child, so keep your Crocs where they rightfully belong.

Back in your closets.

  1. Find a gay best friend

Carrie Bradshaw isn’t the only person who needs a gay best friend – everyone could do with one. We know the best places to get brunch, we understand how cufflinks work and we’ll honestly tell you what not to say to your girlfriend when she’s threatening to break up with you. We are the Chandler to your Joey, without the girlfriend who got in the way.

  1. And finally stop being homophobic and go!

Fashion tips and gym buddies aside, the main reason you should go walk the pride is to show your support for the LGBT community. Contrary to popular belief, the gay men who are at the parade won’t hit on you. They won’t even look at you. We have other important things to worry about – like inequality and basic rights.

Also, walking for the LGBT Pride won’t make you gay – because surprisingly, things don’t work that way. Throw those old fashioned ideas in the trash can and step out. We did it ages ago, and let me tell you that it’s very fulfilling.

Or at least most gay men did.

‘Why should I go?’ asks Rohan, a flamboyant digital marketing manager who’s a year older, but eons cuter. ‘I am not an activist; plus it’s a Sunday afternoon, I’ll rather sleep in!’ he sips at his peppermint tea, handing me his almond biscotti.

Sigh. If only his sensibility matched his swagger.

If like Rohan, you are one of the many gay men who don’t think it’s their calling (or place) to participate in the parade, don’t fret. I’ve got you covered too. Here are a few reasons for you to pull back those bed covers and pull up your socks just in time for the walk today:

  1. It gives you the same sense of belonging that a clearance sale does.

 Let’s face it – you might love your straight friends to death, but they’d never be able to relate to the bad Grindr date you had last week, the one with the man who thought it’d be okay to get his ex along.

It’s different at the parade – here, as you are surrounded by fun (read: fabulous) people who are just like you, you feel the same way you felt when you bought clothes at half price. Do you know what that lovely feeling is?

It’s the overwhelming sense of community. The feeling that you belong.

Without any dates with exes involved.

  1. It’s better than finding love on Grindr.

Sick of rummaging around the dregs of online dating, sifting through the same pool of shirtless men?

You have more chances of running into the love of your life here than you have of having a decent, fulfilling conversation on Grindr. Can you imagine the possibilities of not having your heart broken by yet another torso that asks you for ‘a dick pic?’

Well, now you can. How about you go say hi to the cute boy waving the pride flag across the road instead? You no longer need to lie to people about meeting your future boyfriend at Starbucks.

 

  1. A chance to dress fabulously.

Remember that multicoloured jacket you drunkenly bought online after a bitter break-up and an even bitter bottle of wine?

Now’s your chance to tear out the plastic wrapping and wear it like you own it (side note: because in this case, you actually do.) Pride’s the perfect excuse to be proud of your identity and keep the inhibitions at bay – feather boas or floral shirts, if you think you can pull it off, pull it out of your closets right now.

  1. And finally stop the internalized homophobia.

 The only people who hate gay men more than bigoted straight men are gay men themselves. The twinks hate the chubs. The bears hate the cubs. The intellectuals hate the social butterflies. The mascs hate the femmes. The models hate the geeks. The activists hate the slackers. The queens hate the discreet. And everyone hates me.

It’s finally time to end the internalized homophobia, guys, and there’s no better place to start than walk for Pride itself. What about me?

I’ll see you at the finish line.

Pssst. Did my words stir you enough to attend? Here are a few quick details for you if you plan to swing by The LGBT Pride Parade later today:

When: 3 PM, Sunday, November 12th, 2017.

Where: Intersection of Barakhamba Road and Tolstoy Marg, central Delhi.

 

 

 

A Straight Guy’s Guide To Acceptance

 

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It’s International Coming Out Day today, boys and girls.

Which means, that as you read this sentence, thousands of men and women are pushing past their sweaters and bad decisions from 2007, and stepping out of their closets (into their out-and-proud sexualities).

I’ll tell you something – whether you are 14 or 40, coming out can be an ordeal, but that’s a story for another time. If your friend is lucky: everything will go well, and the two of you will be downing shots at the bar later tonight.

But if it doesn’t, you – yes, YOU – owe it to him to make his life a whole lot easier. To help you in ‘your’ journey of acceptance, here are a few things you shouldn’t say when a friend (or a sibling) comes out to you today:

  1. ‘Oh that’s amazing, dude. But wait a minute, you won’t hit on me now, will you, ha-ha?’

No, because you clearly aren’t my type. If you were, we would not be friends in the first place – I’d just be gushing about you to my best friend.

  1. ‘Do you know what? I always knew it.’

When someone comes out to you, it’s an exhilarating feeling – it’s full of the giddiness that comes with riding a rollercoaster. Telling someone that you already knew (even if you did) is like pulling the handbrakes.

  1. ‘Maybe if you only started playing more sport, you never know…’

This is when I make a list of all the sportsmen in the world who are gay. Stop with the stereotyping – it wasn’t cool back in 1966; it isn’t cool in 2017.

  1. ‘Haha, is this just because you’ve not had a girlfriend yet?’

Ditch the biology book when you are wondering what your gay friend does behind closed doors – love has nothing to do with how things fit, because it’s not the big 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle that we all assume it to be.

  1. ‘ I don’t really know what to say right now, bro.’

If you don’t, sometimes a hug would do – there’s nothing worse than radio silence. Be normal, the best reactions aren’t even worth remembering because they felt so natural.

  1. ‘So you the guy or the girl?’

Get out.

  1. ‘Whoa, when did you decide you want to be gay?’

The same way you decided to be straight.

  1. ‘But bro, do you have AIDS?

Let’s get it straight (pun intended). AIDS is not a gay disease.

On the other hand, sir, you suffer from something far worse.

Ignorance.

  1. ‘Well, duh!’

Read point two, but only slap yourself around your head this time.

  1. ‘Why didn’t you tell me sooner?’

Making someone’s coming out process about you is usually not the best idea. Focusing on them and their experience instead? Let’s get out those medals of honour.

  1. ‘Man, now you can help me with my shopping!’

The fact that gay men love to shop is probably the worst stereotype that ever exists. That, and the jazz hands.

Just wear what you want to, you’ll look great.

  1. ‘No, you are not.’

Do you know what you are not? A nice person.

  1. ‘Let’s go hit the clubs, mate!’

Yes, thank you. But that’s not why I just told you something this important, right?

  1. ‘Are you really sure about this?’ Maybe it’s just a phase, you never know? Remember, back when I was younger and I….’

Being able to finally feel comfortable in your skin is the best feeling in the world. Someone wanting to share that feeling with you is like wanting to share a large ice cream sundae on a hot summer day. Cherish it.

  1. ‘You mean you are bisexual, right?’

No. Gay. G-A-Y. Get that?

Now that you’ve finished reading the guide, how about you go help your friend with the closet door instead? Those shackles can be tough to pry open, and they could use all the help they could get.

Move along.

 

Read the whole post on MensXP here.

Happy #ComingOutDay : the Guysexual’s Guide to Coming Out

Happy International Coming Out Day.jpg

Do you hear that low rumble in the background?

It’s the collective sound of a billion closet doors being thrust open, so that their occupants can finally step out and enjoy the sun (and their sexuality).

Happy International Coming Out Day, boys and girls.

Today, if a close friend, a colleague or a sibling puts down their low-fat latte, looks you straight in the eye and tells you that they’ve got ‘something important to say to you,’ there’s a very high chance you are going to be privy to a coming out story — unless you’ve got something stuck between your front teeth, that is (so before you put on your best understanding face, do check a mirror).

Coming out is a special milestone in every gay person’s life — a coming-of-age ritual that all of us have to go through in this convoluted journey of trying to ‘find ourselves’.

The real question is, do you need to come out to be at peace with yourself?

I think so. Coming out can be difficult for a variety of reasons — the fear of people’s reactions, the stigma of being ostracised, the conflict with your religious beliefs, and the acceptance of intolerance, to just name a few — but it’s honestly refreshing.  Your internal struggles feel less painful, and your life seems more beautiful.

So why this big fuss about International Coming Out Day when you can make the big announcement any day of the year?

Continue reading Happy #ComingOutDay : the Guysexual’s Guide to Coming Out

Byesexual: What Not To Say When You Meet A Bisexual Person

Pride

 

Twenty seven year old Aneesh isn’t fond of many things.

He isn’t fond of liars. He isn’t fond of menthol cigarettes. He isn’t fond of pigeons. He isn’t fond of relationships that move too fast.

And he isn’t fond of bisexuals.

A management consultant from Chandigarh, Aneesh hasn’t had many great experiences with them. ‘I don’t get them at all,’ the boy says out aloud, as he picks at his French fries at a dusty old pub.

I’d want to pick on him, but I find him irresistibly cute. ‘Because I don’t really think that they exist,’ he says, toying with a crisp one. I don’t have the heart to tell him that unlike Santa Claus or Donald Trump’s sincerity, he can’t just compartmentalise bisexuals with other imaginary things — they aren’t myths, bad decisions or drug-induced trips.

He has no particular reason for disliking them, he tells me — he just thinks they have it easy because ‘they can switch anytime they want’. He had a girlfriend back in college three years ago, but we don’t talk about her.

I know that Kartik, my copywriter friend, also feels the same way. He got his heart broken by an architect five years ago — a man who left him on Google Chat, because he wanted to get back with his ex-girlfriend.

The said ex-boyfriend is now fighting for gay rights in the Middle East, and was last heard dating a Swedish accountant.

Who is a man.

If Kartik were in my place right now, he’d shake hands with Aneesh. Maybe I should introduce the two of them?

In a world that strongly identifies as black or white, it’s sad to see that bisexuality is the grey area that neither gay nor straight communities understand. Why should they have the best of both worlds while they decide what they want, they say — however, what most people don’tunderstand is the fact that bisexuality is not a stopover, it’s a destination.

Cut to Shrayana, a 19-year-old BMM student who sells homemade jewelry on her website and does button poetry on weekends. The girl is great at handing out conversational candy — especially as we spar over the Kardashians at an after-party one day, months after my tryst with Aneesh.

She’s exactly the kind of boy I’d want to date. Sadly, she’s not one.

I make the mistake of telling her that.

‘I don’t need to be a boy to date you,’ she says to me, as I splutter on my drink — who knew compliments could turn catty? Apparently my track record with bisexual women is the same as my track record with gay men.

It’s abysmal.

I tell her I meant it in the nice way. She frowns again. I don’t want to put her off, but I seem to be doing a great job of it (which is strange, considering my usually impeccable standards of charming women.)

‘Okay, let’s make this simpler,’ she tells me off sternly, before I say something offensive again, ‘Have you ever had a good-looking boy tell you that he wished you were a girl so that he could date you?’

The girl does have a point (but sadly, there have been no such boys). I try mumbling out an apology about being bisexual-friendly, but Shrayana’s already distracted — she’s just caught the eye of a beautiful woman standing by the door — a stage actress who’s celebrating the success of her recent play. Their eyes meet, and my voice trails away. My gay charm clearly has no effect on her.

Shrayana disappears off for a while, leading the (much older) actress to the depths of the kitchen. I make small talk with a gay hairdresser from Spain, but keep an eye out for my lady friend. I have a woman to woo, and I mean business.

They appear fifteen minutes later, looking disheveled but very pleased with themselves. She winks at me — it looks like I won’t have to wave a white flag anymore.

‘It’s not about what you said,’ she says, sliding next to me ten minutes later, gently nudging the hairdresser out of the conversation, and out of my life. ‘It’s upsetting that bisexuals get so much hate from the community itself, and it’s all so misguided — if you can love anyone you choose, why can’t the same rules apply to us?’

Who knew an after party could lead to an after thought?

As someone who thought that his views on bisexuality were always liberal, it turns out I have been sitting on the same side of the table as Aneesh and Kartik (side note: not that I am complaining, they are both very attractive boys). Only, my indifference comes out in the form of ignorance.

‘It’s not about how many men or women I have dated or how strong my feelings have been for each of them,’ she sips on her gin, lighting a cigarette with the flair of a man in his early forties, ’It’s about how I feel at that moment.’

‘Well, let’s start over then. Can you tell me what I shouldn’t be saying?’ I ask her, jokingly. I’ve already reached two strikes. One more, and I’ll be out. (Side note: we are exactly three hours away from being Facebook friends, and two weeks from exchanging numbers.)

She smiles, and gives me a whole list instead:

1. ‘So vanilla or chocolate; which one do you prefer?’

2. ‘So you are actually gay, right?’

3. ‘Not that I have anything against bisexuals or anything, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to date one.’

4. ‘Okay, gun to your head — if you had to finally choose, who would you rather do — men or women?’

5. ‘Moment of truth — who is better in bed?’

6. ‘OMG, I am so jealous of the number of threesomes you must be having!’

7. ‘I think you are a confused gay man — you just don’t know it.’

8. ‘Is it something that you just wake up and decide? One day I like men, another day it’s women.’ That sounds like so much fun! How do I sign up?’

9. ‘Yeah, you are too hot to be a lesbian!’

10. ‘Listen! Can I introduce you to my friends? They’ve never met anyone who’s bisexual before!’

11. ‘Ohh. What does your ex-girlfriend have to say about this? Does she know? Wait, is this because of her?’

12. ‘Only girls can be bisexual. Guys? Uh-huh.’

13. ‘I’d be so scared of dating someone who’s bisexual, what if one day she just decides to leave me for a girl? Just between you and me, I’d feel less of a man.’

14. ‘You know what? This sounds terribly convenient. You want to be gay but you don’t want to be gay at the same time. You know what I mean?’

15. ‘That’s not fair — you have a wider pool to bang. I hate you, man!’

16. ‘So let me get this straight, you like men and women? Doesn’t that make you really greedy? Leave some for the rest of us!’

17. ‘Hahahaha, so what is your favourite colour? Pink or blue?’

18. ‘Oh, I totally get you, I was dared to kiss this boy in school, so I am bisexual too. High five, mate…no?’

19. ‘Wait a minute…are you bisexual because Lindsay Lohan is bisexual? Because that’s not a good reason to be…’

20. ‘Are you sure you aren’t bisexual because you have a fear of commitment? Because you can’t decide?’

I take her list, and we both clink our glasses. The hairdresser is still around, and I am in no hurry to go back home.