5 goosebump-inducing LGBTQ stories shared by community members!
A quote by Jane Fonda goes like this – ‘The most incredible beauty and the most satisfying way of life come from affirming your own uniqueness.’ Being unique and different is not something to shun; on the contrary, it is something to be celebrated. We hope these LGBTQ stories encourage you to open your mind and treat them no different than you would treat any other human being.
“I was 19 when I realised I’m gay. Before that, I knew I was different, but I wasn’t willing to accept it because from where I come from, such things as being a part of the LGBTQ community are considered a sin. But things changed when I moved to the UK to study. I went to gay clubs and connected with people from all walks of life. And then one day, I looked at the sky and said it out loud, ‘I’m gay!’ The moment I said it, I felt free…
So, when I next went home, I told my parents about my sexual orientation. And although I wasn’t expecting them to be ‘happy’ about it, I didn’t expect Papa to say, ‘You’ve disappointed us.’ They even took me to a doctor to ‘cure’ me; they thought my sexual orientation was ‘just a phase.’ So, I decided to give them some time and stopped discussing this part of my life with them.
4 years went by; I met Sugith during this period. He was everything I could ask for in a partner. But it hurt me to hide him from my family, especially my cousins. I wanted to tell them about the boy I was in love with, but that would shatter my parents. Their image in society was everything to them, and it would be ruined if word got out that their son belonged to the LGBTQ community.
So, I blocked all family members from social media. At the same time, I tried my best to sensitize my parents. I’d send them articles about the LGBTQ community and get them to speak to parents of kids from LGBTQ groups. And eventually, I introduced them to Sugith and invited them to live with us in the UK. Although they became more accepting, whenever relatives asked about me, they’d blatantly lie, ‘No, he isn’t seeing anyone!’
I could see how much that hurt Sugith; the dual life was exhausting. I’d already lived some crucial moments of my life, like realising I was gay and moving in with Sugith without my family, but I was done! So, one morning, I unblocked all my family members, wrote on Facebook, ‘I’m religious, I’m catholic, I’m human, and I’m gay!’ and posted it. The first 5 minutes were full of anxiety. But when my oldest cousin commented, ‘I love you for you,’ I broke down. That’s all I wanted, people loving me for me!
Soon, heartwarming comments started pouring in. From my mama and chacha to my cousins and even Papa’s friends – all of them came to my support. Some family friends even called up my parents and said, ‘This is God’s will,’ ‘His happiness matters the most.’ Honestly, I think that helped. All their life, they’d worried about ‘log kya kahengey,’ but when the same people supported me when I came out as gay, it was like an acceptance for them as well.
A month later, Sugith and I made it official. Not everyone could be there, but they joined us virtually. I never thought I’d witness a day when I’d exchange vows with the man I love, let alone do it in the presence of my family. It’s been a few months since, and sometimes it still feels like a dream. When I come home to see Maa and Sugith on a video call with a relative or Papa and Sugith playing cards, I still can’t believe it!”
“I always wanted to be the kind of mother whose kids felt comfortable sharing everything with. So, even when they grew up, I knew what was happening in their lives, or, so I thought…One day, when Ribhu was 25, he came home and said, ‘Kuch batana hai!’ I was convinced he’d found a girl for himself and was ready to settle, but the conversation took a different course when he said, ‘I’m gay.’ I blurted, ‘Are you sure?’ When he said ‘yes,’ my heart sank. It was a lot to process, that my son was a member of the LGBTQ community.
At first, I refused to believe it. I couldn’t believe my son’s queer identity. And then I started thinking, ‘What will people say?’ We come from an orthodox family in Bengal. Moreover, my husband was a government employee. Also, back then, Section 377 was still functional, and being a member of the LGBTQ community was a crime. I didn’t sleep that night. The next day, I tried to reason with him, ‘Maybe it’s a phase? Meet some girls; you might like them.’ But when Ribhu firmly said, ‘You can choose to not accept me, Maa. I’ve found a family in my queer friends, but don’t belittle me like this.’ I stopped. The next morning, Ribhu left for Mumbai for work.
After he left, I tried talking to him, but in vain. Even if he did answer my call, he was disinterested. I could see my son slipping away. So, I called his roommate to get through to him, but he gave me a reality check– ‘Aunty, he just wants you to see him like you did before, as his son and not as a gay man!’ That stirred something in me. I realized I’d disappointed my son, and I needed to correct that.
So, I started reading articles about the LGBTQ community; I even watched LGBTQ movies. Ribhu also made me speak to the parents of kids from the community, which really helped. In fact, after speaking to them, I announced in my kitty, ‘My son is gay!’ Of course, I got the looks and heard the whispers, ‘She’s a criminal’s mom!’ But I didn’t pay attention; because saying it out loud was acceptance for me as well.
And then, a month later, the verdict on Article 377 was to come out. Coincidentally, Ribhu was coming home that day. So, when the verdict was favourable, I was overjoyed and called him up. I told him, ‘Now no one will call you a criminal!’ He was surprised; he had no idea I’d been following the proceedings. Then his father and I made a placard that read, ‘My son is not a criminal anymore!’ When he entered home, I hugged him tight and said, ‘I love you, son; I’ll always be proud of you.’ It was an emotional day for all of us. 3 months after his confession about his sexual orientation, I finally saw my son smile again. Ribhu came out to the world as a gay person that day!
It’s been 3 years now, and I’ve unlearned and learned so much. In fact, I speak to parents who have trouble accepting their kids who are now a part of the LGBTQ community. Someone had done it for me once, and I’m just trying to pay it forward. But there’s still a lot that I still have to do – once the pandemic ends, I’m most excited about attending my first pride parade!”
TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual assault
“It began when I was 5 years old. I lived in a joint family, and every night my uncle, who’s 10 years older than me, would sexually abuse me. He’d grab me, touch my private parts and make me touch his. I was very scared and didn’t understand what was happening, but he’d threaten to beat me if I told anyone.
Slowly, it moved towards kissing and undressing, and when I was 9, he asked me to give him a blowjob – I didn’t even know what it was! He’d manipulate me and say things like, ‘You have sexy eyes and such a pretty smile. If only you were a girl!’ So I started imagining myself as a girl – I’d put on makeup, paint my nails, and tried wearing women’s clothes; but didn’t like any of it.
By the time I was 15, I realized I liked guys. I even started enjoying the time with my uncle; I was ashamed of how I felt – so I never told anyone. He’d twisted everything within me, but I knew it was wrong. After he got married, he’d still come to me from time to time. One night, I was studying for an exam when he came to me, but I angrily shouted that it wouldn’t happen anymore. And after that, he stopped.
When I was 17, I started dating. I was seeing this guy who called me over to his place one evening. When I reached, he wasn’t alone – he had friends over. The entire evening, they made fun of me, called me names and tugged at my clothes. I was so humiliated – I went home and cried for hours!
My homosexuality felt like a curse, and I began to change my ways by walking straighter and being less expressive. I felt like I was all alone until I started researching the LGBTQ community. I found out that there were so many like me and even more, they were conquering life! Reading their stories inspired me to come out to my friends. When I told them, they didn’t treat me any differently. For them, I was the intelligent, good-at-numbers Sudhakar! They’d often tell me, ‘You are more than just your gender, you know that, right?’ Their understanding helped me accept myself!
Today, I’m a taxation professor in a college and also the head of the Gender Sensitization Cell there. You wouldn’t believe the questions my students ask me; but the truth is, the understanding of LGBTQ community is still very less and the subject is still kept under wraps. That’s why I’m trying to raise as much awareness as I can about it.
Over the years, I’ve gone from hating to loving myself. Because he was the monster, not me – I was a child, and he forced himself on me. I don’t blame myself, and I don’t feel shame. Growing up, my mom always told me, ‘As long as you’re happy, you don’t need to give a damn about the world.’ So that’s what I’m doing here – I’m telling my story, I’m letting the darkness go, I’m being me.”
TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide and Sexual Assault.
“The bullying started when Arvey was in the 6th grade. He’d come home crying and say, ‘The boys call me gay and chakka.’ I was a teacher in the same school, DPS. I’d complain to the authorities, but each time, they’d say, ‘He’s a nautanki!’ So, I’d tell my son that things would get better. He’d try to be more ‘manly’ like the other boys; he even started playing volleyball. But soon, he realized it wasn’t for him. He loved art, poetry, and music; that’s what made him happy. But at every step, his classmates taunted him for being ‘too feminine’ or having more female friends. He felt like an outcast. By 9th grade, things worsened. He came home panicking and breathing heavily–he’d read a chapter about bullying which triggered him.
He confessed, ‘The boys in my class blindfolded me and forced me to strip naked. I can’t take it anymore’. I was shocked; my son’s bullies had become sexual assaulters. This was just one incident. There were so many things he told me about that day. Yet our school refused to take any action; they failed us.
Seeing him like that broke my heart. I took Arvey to multiple therapists until one diagnosed him with depression. He lost his appetite, weight, and his interest in art. And in 10th grade, he got diagnosed with dyslexia, and studying got all the more difficult for him.
Thankfully, one therapist helped him a lot. He slowly started improving. Within 6 months, he became healthier and calmer. He even said, ‘I want to sing songs.’ I immediately enrolled him in a singing class. One day, he even told me, ‘Ma, I like wearing nail paint and jewelry. I said, ‘Be who you are!’ I was glad my son was happy! But this happiness was short-lived. When his school reopened for exams, he got triggered; going back to that school reminded him of those traumatizing memories. He said, ‘I don’t want to give the exam tomorrow.’ He kept crying, so around evening, when I was out, I texted him, ‘It’s okay, skip your paper tomorrow.’ But there was no response.
An hour later, I got a call from my society, ‘Come home, Arvey did something!’ Confused, I told them to take him to the hospital, which they did. But when I got there, he was declared dead; he’d jumped from the 15th floor. He even left me a suicide note telling me to find myself a new job and that I was the best mom in the world. I kept sobbing; my entire world was taken away from me.
After, the school terminated me. A teacher whom he had accused of harassment was arrested for a few days before being bailed out. In fact, she’s going to rejoin the school in a few days. It’s been 6 months since my son left the world. I’ve been in and out of the police station since then. The school didn’t even hold a prayer for his lost soul. That’s how spineless they’ve been. They destroyed his life. I won’t forgive them for it. I have nothing to lose now. And I will make sure my son’s soul rests in peace.”
“I’ve been raised by nana nani since I was 7, and ever since, they’ve been like parents to me. So last year, after coming out to a friend, I thought I should tell them about my identity too. For the first 10 minutes, there was complete silence. Then nana put his hand on his chest and broke down. Nani cried too. A few minutes later, they said, ‘all we want is for you to do good in life.’ I’d never felt so much relief–I hugged them tightly, and a few days later, I put up a Facebook post coming out to the world. With them by my side, I felt like I had nothing to be afraid of.
Within a few weeks, nana even asked me to call my friends from the transgender and LGBTQ community over! We had a chai session on the balcony and chatted about everything. They then decided they wanted to walk my first ever pride parade with me, but they couldn’t because of their health. So instead, we decided to do a fun shoot with matching pride t-shirts!
Nana nani read all my posts now. I sometimes send them LGBTQ articles, and they have so many questions. Recently, nana asked, ‘How many people are in your gang?’ I burst out laughing, held his hand, and said, ‘Nana, it’s not a gang, it’s the LGBTQ community.’ They’ve come a long way — from being upset about my sexual orientation to wanting to walk pride parades with me! And now, I’m comfortable wearing makeup in front of them too. The best part is that they don’t treat me any differently than before, and that’s what gives me the confidence to just be me, even in front of the rest of the world.”
Humans of Bombay is all about bringing you extraordinary stories of ordinary people. In sharing these stories of members of the LGBTQ community, we hope to raise awareness about their community. We also hope these stories help you learn to be more accepting of them. If you’d like to read more such stories, check out our book and dive into the diverse tales of Bombay.