On the issue of coming out, my understanding is that although all respondents had shared information about their homosexuality with their friends to some extent or another, most equated coming out with coming out to their families. Here, the first obstacle as Ormus lamented, was that ‘in India, there does not exist a respectable vocabulary for homosexuality. If I were to come out to my aunts and uncles, I have no idea what words I would ever use’.
Students Gul, Nihar and Om shared with me their deep desire to come out, but only after they graduated and achieved financial independence from their families, as they were apprehensive about their reactions. For Ormus, Divakar, Taksa and Husain, fear of confrontation with their families led to their eliminating all traces of their homosexuality within the family presence. Even in situations like Mohnish’s, where he acknowledged that his family might be understanding (‘they are broadminded, liberal, discuss homosexuality often’), there was still a fear that ‘their condition would be quite miserable… if they found out that their own son was gay.
On the other hand, for openly out respondents like Kabir, Cholan, Rahim, Karim, Harbhajan and Mike, the family helped serve as a vital source of support.
MIKE: I’ve been raised in a psychiatrist’s house. So there have never really been any issues or taboos. Some of my parents’ closest friends are gay, so it was much easier for me to accept myself and to realise that I’m not a genetic defect or something.
CHOLAN: My father’s first reaction was, ‘Let’s challenge the law.’ his second reaction was, ‘I want to read some books on this to understand it better.’ His third reaction was, ‘You know I’ve bought a small flat in Bombay, and when it is ready you should have it.’ His fourth reaction was, ‘I want to meet other parents.’ I don’t know any of my friends who have had such a cool experience with their parents.
Excerpted from ‘GAY BOMBAY Globalization, Love and (Be)longing in Contemporary India’ by Parmesh Shahani. Courtesy: Sage Publications