An open gay man living in India –an insight
When Sasha asked me to write an article on LGBTQ, I wasn’t sure what I should write about. Thought for a while and then decided to give you all an insight from an open gay man living in India, where I am considered a criminal as per the law and in every other straight person.
First, what does the law state about homosexuals (apparently that’s what everyone thinks. A law for the homosexuals ?).
IPC Sec 377: Unnatural offenses: Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
I am sure most of you’ll reading didn’t know the law, right? That’s all right. Let’s break that down before I go to my story.
The law states that anyone, not only homosexuals, who engage in non-procreative intercourse or otherwise known as sex for pleasure will be punished for life or a term for 10 years and top it off, is liable for fine too. Yes, you read it right. Even the heterosexual people are a part of this law.
Now, for the interesting part of this article, let me share my story with you.
From a very young age, I always knew I was different. There were times I thought I was God’s special child because I was different from others. Due to this, I had good, bad and ugly days all through my growing up days. The very bad days were also there which prompted me to take some drastic steps. As it turned out unsuccessful, I then thought that it’s God’s way of saying, I am not done yet and there is a lot more in store for me. Along with that, my confidence level was very low with me being different in my liking and my chocolate skin color.
Fast forward, I joined this amazing company HP in 2004. By that time I very well knew whom I was getting attracted to. I was pretty much into the closet with very few people who knew my true self. I never thought I needed to come out to everyone as I felt it was a personal thing and people at work didn’t need to know. But during that time I was always cautious about what other people will think about me if I say this or do this or wear this or walk like this. There was a constant battle that I was doing with myself for those 9-10 hours while I was at work. Even with those struggles, I did manage to shine and go up the ladder of success. But I never felt authentic about myself or put out my best foot forward-thinking that it will reveal my true self. As the years passed by, I got comfortable with myself but never at work. I used to dread Monday’s like most of them dread. But, I had a different reason. I hated responding to questions like how was your weekend? How many girls you went on a date with? Or do you have one? Why are you are being so secretive? And many more other questions which I hated to answer. At those times I just felt like saying, “I’m gay and I don’t like girls the way you all do.” But, I never had the courage. I wasn’t sure how this would affect my career or my promotion or yearly reviews. So, I kept it all under the wraps and went on with it
Not to worry. My life was not all that sad and miserable. Here comes the best part which was the turning point in my life.
I came out to my parents around 4 years back as they were seriously planning to get me married to a girl. I knew it will be a difficult conversation that I will have with my parents but I also was strong in my mind that I will never ever spoil a girl’s life because I couldn’t stand up to it. Those were difficult days which turned into months –after the “coming out”. During that time, my work was an all-time low. My manager and team members were a bit concerned but as usual, I told them some lies to cover things up. But at the same time, I felt a sense of relief that I told my parents about my true self. A few months later, I decided to attend my first Bangalore Pride Walk. I also knew that there would be a lot of press coverage -I didn’t want to come out to my colleagues or my manager that way. So I decided to talk to my manager and tell him who I truly was. After coming out to my parents, coming out to my manager was a difficult thing (in my head). I had a very candid conversation with my manager and he was one of the most supportive people. He was very supportive and encouraged me to be my authentic self. After that, I mustered the courage to come out to a few of my other colleagues. And they were all very supportive and encouraging.
The morning after the Pride Month, I woke up with a big smile on my face and made the decision to come out to all. I made created a life event on Facebook, “Finally out of the closet”. I never thought about who approved or disapproved of me for being myself. I simply refused to bother myself with what others thought of me. It was indeed one of the most liberating feelings. I said to myself, “if people accept me, good for them and if they disapprove of me, it’s their loss and not mine”. With that confidence, I went to work. I was only met with happy and very happy faces in my team. Many came to me and congratulated me to being myself. .
Ever since that day, I have only grown in confidence and more pride for myself. With the support and push of my team, colleagues, and HP, I have only grown leaps and bounds. Today I lead the LGBTQ Chapter in HP Inc, India. I have attended and represented HP & India at various conferences both in India and outside India. I take great pride being a part for HP and working towards making HP an LGBTQ inclusive workplace.
About the Author: Suresh leads CS Global Training at HP India. Inc and also the pride chapter at HP. If you have any queries w.r.t the article, you can reach Suresh at firstname.lastname@example.org.