6 LGBTQ acceptance stories that will warm your heart.

“We were both born and brought up in Sindh, which used to be a part of India back then. Even though we grew up in the same place, our paths never crossed. It was during partition that both our families left for Bombay -- hers by train, mine by boat. Those were terrifying days -- bodies and riots every, we didn’t have any money...forget that, we didn’t even have shoes on our feet! We slept on VT station for the first 3 days, until my father found a job and life returned to normalcy. All of us ‘refugees’ were hungry to start over, we worked our way up and slowly built a life for ourselves. In time, I shifted to Kuwait where there were many opportunities and she was studying to be a doctor in Bombay. Once when I was visiting home, I was at the window and saw her in this lovely sari, standing at the bus stop. She looked so sweet and innocent, I used to see her everyday from my window...and then as fate would have it, I found out my sister was married to her uncle! After a lot of convincing, my sister ‘set up’ a meeting for us, we dated for 10 days and then I proposed! It was that simple -- now days, you don’t even know whether you’re dating! Then came the dreadful long distance -- I still remember, I used to set aside time and money to make a long distance phone call from my hotel to call her. In between, we wrote each other letters but they would reach after months, so our letters would be long...trying to cover everything we’ve missed! That was true romance to me -- being happy in just ‘knowing’ that the other was happy...even without you! I always felt bad because she gave up an excellent job opportunity in Boston to be with me, but in my heart I knew that her dreams were as important as mine...so a few years into our marriage she did end up going back there to work and I moved with her. Those were the days, and believe me we still talk about all these memories. One thing we love doing together is being in nature, so very often you will find us watching the sunset or the moon together and talking about life, and how amazing it has been. That’s the best part about this life -- reliving those special memories over and over with the same person and watching that sunset together, knowing that you’re creating more of those memories as you go along.”

“We met randomly back in 2008. I had returned from France and one evening, my best friend invited me to an LGBTQ+ party. She had two guys in mind for me– one was from Hong Kong and the other was from France. Having partiality towards France, I met the French guy, Cyril. And that night was crazy! It was warm, fuzzy and everything one’s soul craves. There was an unspeakable connection. It was enough to fill the void I was feeling after the sudden passing of my father. Eventually, we started seeing each other more often. Cyril was going through a transition because he had been in India for almost four years and was planning to go back to Paris. When he left, I felt absurd because I started missing him. So, I flew to Paris to spend more time with him. That’s how the flying-to-places to see each other started. Infact, I remember our crazy experiences! Once, while travelling in the Eurostar, we got kicked off it for smoking in the toilet! After travelling around the globe for each other, we finally decided to move in. I couldn’t wait to start and end my days with him -- it was meant to be. So we introduced each other to our families and they were more than supportive! Like any mom, mine checked out Cyril from head to toe and asked him about his family but over time they became best friends -- they even have an Anti-Keshav Club! Since the beginning, we both knew that we wanted to get married. Here, it’s not recognised by the law… so even though the Supreme court has given us hope, marriage looked like a far off dream. Still, our love wasn’t bound by restrictions. We decided to have our wedding anyway. We got married twice, once in Goa and once in Paris, and it’s been no less than a dream. Laxmi Narayan Tripathi was the priestess for our vow-taking. It was a perfect blend of tradition with the contemporary. The last day of the celebrations was a Drag Show. I, for one, am a huge enthusiast. So I said why not? I even danced with my mom on ‘Kaisi Paheli Zindagani’. That night, she said--life is a puzzle and we’ve to solve it, it is on us to derive happiness out of it. That moment of us dancing together, was a moment of acceptance that came after a long 10 year journey. The world tries to tell you who to love, when to love and how to love…Even if you defy it, you're still a part of this world. So, the only thing in your hands is the decision that it's worth defying. So you should fall freely in love and let the world be damned… because in the end, ‘the one’ is going to end up being your world and that’s all that matters.”

“I’ve always known what I wanted in life. In KG, I knew I was attracted to boys, but I kept it to myself, and then at 4, I knew I wanted to be a storyteller. I remember, each festival would see me set up a play with my dolls for my family members to see. My aunt once asked–Is this what you want to do once you grow up? Make Films? I said, ‘Yes!’ As I grew older, I fell in love with writing. In fact, at 13, I wrote my first screenplay without even knowing what the term ‘screenplay’ meant! I wrote the dialogues and painted a visual of how I wanted my characters to look. But when Mamma found the script she asked, ‘Who do you think you are? Yash Chopra?’ Dad backed her by saying, ‘It’s not easy to survive in this industry without contacts and mentors.’ All I said was, ‘I’ll be my own mentor,’ and pulled out a book in which I had written about all the film courses around the world that I was looking forward to. My family was shocked. Ma tore my book but my dreams only found more courage. Around the same time, my parents pushed me for therapy because in a conversation, I told them that I was crushing on a boy. When I showed resistance I was told, 'If you want to waste your life, we cannot be silent.' But I wasn’t the one to give up.I knew it was time for me to take a stand. And so, at 15, I moved to the US on a scholarship and took up odd jobs to support myself. Life there was tough, but I was determined! I ended up majoring in Filmmaking, just as I had dreamed. Seeing my determination, my family also came around and I came clean about my sexuality. I then decided to concentrate on my career and went on to direct 300 musicals in 3 years of my college. But when I saw the queer representation in Bollywood movies, my heart ached. I wanted to give a dignified representation to my community. So, at 21, I moved back to India to work on independent films that championed queer narratives. Sisak was my first critically acclaimed film. And then last year, Sheer Qorma bagged over 55 international awards! And you know what? After seeing my movie, a 40-year-old bisexual woman actually came out to her mom! But my biggest achievement was when Dad, with a sense of pride, showed me the front page of Bombay Times, that had my picture with the headline ‘Muslim and queer!’ It was his way of showing acceptance, it meant the world! I feel it’s my responsibility, as a filmmaker, to create a more inclusive world for generations to come. I wake up daily & choose to honour my truth, & to remind everyone that love will save the day. If you can be anything, be kind.”

"After a decade of denial, I came out in 2017 and told Mamma that I was gay–I broke down. But she was so calm– ‘This is normal, why are you crying?’ I was so relieved! A few months later, I saw Anmol’s profile on an app and thought, ‘Wow’– he was so handsome! I sent him a request and we started chatting. We spoke about our past, dreams and values– bingo, we were a perfect match! Within three days, Anmol confessed– ‘I love you’. I didn't know how to react. There was an awkward silence but Anmol made up for it with his quick wit– ‘Koi baat nahi, tujhe bhi ho jayega.’ I loved how expressive he was but I was worried that things were moving too quickly. But he was so honest and real that I kept going back to him. Then, Anmol suggested that we speak to each other’s mothers. Mamma’s approval mattered, so I agreed. He called her and said, ‘Namaste mamma’– she couldn’t stop smiling! Two weeks later, we met for coffee; It was our first date. While strolling around Sukhna lake, we shared our first kiss. This was pre-377, so I was scared, but Anmol didn’t care! After the kiss, he confessed his love again. I was finally sure and said, ‘Yes! I love you too’. For the next 2 months, we kept going on dates; we’re big foodies so we mostly were at restaurants. We’d speak to each other all night. But soon after, my father got a stroke due to some financial stress which paralyzed him–I was heartbroken when he slipped into a coma. Anmol was in Bhopal for work, but as soon as he heard, he cut his trip short and rushed back. My CA exams were around the corner, so Anmol insisted on staying with mom at the hospital while I studied. He ran errands, helped her get medicines, food and most importantly, treated her as his own. That’s when I realised I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. On my birthday, while we were still in the hospital, he gave me a commitment ring– I had happy tears. A few weeks later, on Anmol’s birthday, I gave him one too– we were a done deal! By then, my father was out of danger– life got back to the new normal. After Anmol moved to Canada for his post graduation and for two years, we’ve been in a long distance relationship! I’ve become Anmol’s alarm clock– everyday, before I sleep, I give him a wake up call! We hardly fight but when we do, Anmol texts within 10 mins– ‘Mynkii, I love you!’ He can’t stay mad for long! Finally, this year, on Mother’s day, we decided to come out as a couple on Facebook– ‘Me and my fiánce Anmol’. Our love story wouldn’t have happened without our mothers– this was our way of honouring them. Now, I can’t wait for Anmol to come back to India, get married and raise a family with him–He’s the man I want to grow old with.”

“While growing up, I was called names like, ‘Chakka’ and ‘Lesbian’. I was teased about my body language and mannerisms, when it was as natural for me as anybody else. Throughout my school life I was teased about how effeminate I was. Of course, I did get bogged down but it was only for a while. I was happy in my own world where I loved everything pink, I loved dancing and I loved looking beautiful. My ‘coming out moment’ happened when I told my best friend and she went ahead and wrote this appreciation post on Facebook. My mom read it and to my complete surprise - she took it so sportingly! After that, there was only acceptance at every step of the way. I even bought my first pair of heels... with my dad! So many times in life you’ll find that people will do or say anything to bring you down, but the ones who care -- like your family and friends will stand by you and really -- that’s all that matters. Look at me -- my inner diva shines bright like a diamond and nothing can dull my spirit!”

“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 are considered to be 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. 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 it 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. So, I blocked all family members from social media. But at the same time, I tried my best to sensitise my parents. I’d send them articles, and even made them 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 important 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! And soon, heartwarming comments started pouring in. From my mama to my 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, 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 where 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!”

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