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I Think I Might Be Gay

June 28, 2022

I don’t remember when this story of my inner complexities actually starts. Was there a point in time while navigating through this web of emotions that I knew for sure? Was it when I had my first crush? Was it the first time that I felt uncomfortable in the presence of boys or was it the first time when I told someone about what I felt? Am I even sure right now? I guess we will never know. Is this conversation even important now?

When I finally came to terms with my sexuality around 2019, it was as if someone had lifted a 200-kilo boulder off my heart.

In my childhood, I always felt that I was different from the other kids. I could not bring myself to like the things that my cousins liked. I knew that I was different, so I over-corrected by spending most of my time studying and getting perfect grades. My parents didn’t ask too many questions as I was doing well academically. I spent my entire childhood invalidating all the little crushes I had on boys, double-guessing myself at every step of the way. How could I be GAY? Yes, GAY, A word I didn’t even know till I was 13, maybe, and even when I did, I was too scared to say it out loud. This was around the time that I suppressed my feelings about my gender and sexuality. I was your local cis-het boy; I faked having crushes on girls, imagined entire relationships with them and even went on dates. Things gradually changed, but one constant thing was the eternal hatred I had for myself. It was more a grudge than hatred, honestly. A grudge for not being straight enough maybe. Because even when I tried hard to fit in, I would still be a subject of ridicule for people in school; they always knew—even when I didn’t—homophobes do have an impeccable gaydar.

I finally had the courage to come out to my best friend in the summer of 2019. I was thinking about this for almost a year now, I had the entire script rehearsed in my head. But, it ended up happening in the middle of a breakdown I had. I texted her—“I think I like this guy from coaching; I think I may be gay”, and her response was—“I know”. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t gone through the feeling of coming out to someone for the first time knows how liberating this experience is. After this, I started to unlearn my internalised homophobia for the first time and read up about being queer on Wikipedia because where else would you get better information, right? Netflix became the source of the only gay people I knew—people who were not vilified by family. For five months, I watched everything that came up in the search results of Netflix which had the tag “gay” on it.

I don’t know what prompted me to join Twitter on a random Thursday evening (Yes, I obsessively remember days and dates), but joining Twitter was like the opening of Pandora’s box. I thought to myself—“Wait a second, people here are actually gay and have partners and are happy with their lives??”. I was happy for them but also jealous, I could’ve had so much all this time, yet I missed out on the opportunity to be happy. At this point, I started becoming comfortable with my identity; I finally started leaving the closet I had been in for as long as I could remember.

Fast forward almost six months, and JEE result was finally out. I knew that I would have to go to Roorkee; I had no idea what it would be like; I was not ready to leave the comfort of my home yet. As you can predict, “Gay IIT Roorkee” was my next google search. Most of the things I saw were experiences that alums had. I soon realised that it was a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” unsaid rule which everyone had to follow. One thing was certain; I couldn’t be out of the closet in such an environment. The unlearning process that started over a year ago came to a grinding halt. When I discovered the Instagram page of Qagaar, I wanted to text them, but what if Qagaar was a plot by homophobes to attract the attention of queer people—I couldn’t take the risk—So I contacted them using someone else’s Instagram, an action which seems very stupid now that I look at it in retrospect.

When online college started, I was added to 3 WhatsApp groups on average, almost daily. Now, I do not know whether it’s the high of qualifying JEE or people just being plain incels—that freshers in IIT Roorkee think that the whole world cares about the opinions that they have to offer. Homophobic terms and micro-aggressions were prevalent in these groups because what else would men bond over, right? Of course, their indelible hatred for queer people. Whenever I saw something problematic in these groups, I would call it out then and there. This repeated action became very toxic for me over time. I could not fix everyone here. So one fine day, I quit all these groups, and life suddenly became better for me, without this hatred and negativity every day. Still, every once in a while, it was very common for someone from my class to share such things on social media or for IITR-Memes to post stuff like this because “Bro, it’s funny, Bro”. I hope the confession page and IITR Memes die; I do. I have so much hatred for them; it is unreal. The Cr**m of the Nation can apparently solve complex mathematical problems but fails to understand that there are more than 2 genders. I really wish that all straight people understood the kind of effect that their jokes have on queer individuals or what a queer individual feels when someone says a slur around them, even when it is not addressed to them.

A year later, when I finally came to college, my partner was scared for me. I was, too; these homophobes who had so much hatred for me on social media were real people. They could be living on the same floor as me, but then again…..I live with my parents in the same house, which has been okay till now. College wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. People generally mind their own business here, which is nice. Yet, I always had a lingering fear; the fear never goes away. I freeze every time I hear “Qagaar” or “Gay” in public; my heart still sinks a little when someone makes a homophobic statement, even when it is not directed towards me. Living in the boy’s hostel makes me uncomfortable; it makes me feel dysphoric like I’ve never felt before. On some occasions, I wish I had an option to live elsewhere, not surrounded by a thousand other men. On other occasions, it is just fine.

I think that I am pretty comfortable with my identity now, still, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely be myself here. There is always a lingering fear. I feel that people have their eyes on me even when nobody is looking. I still try to hide certain mannerisms when I’m around people. Today, I do not care about distasteful comments and looks from strangers whenever I’m holding hands with my partner and walking in public. I think the biggest change, the so-called water-shed moment in this journey was when I accepted myself to be the way I am. Everything after that was just fine. I hope that I am able to come out to my parents one day. I don’t expect them to understand what I went through all these years, I do wish though, that they feel some guilt for being homophobic around me when I was a child. I hope they at least realise the effect that their words had on a teenager who was scared of being hated by his own parents.

I think college life would pass without giving me significant trauma. I hope it does.

“Gay means happy, but friends let me tell you that I am not happy at all”

-me, circa 2022