I was initially going to post this on the blog I’m always occupied with, because it’s the one I love.It’s called Queer Shaktism. But after I was done writing this, (an emotionally fickle 11 hours) I decided it should be posted here, on my personal blog. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to maintain it nicely, but I guess if i kept a physical diary, that’s how it’d be; messy, irregular and all over the place. enjoy this. and forgive the preachiness if you find any. lots of love and positivity 🙂 Also, WARNING! This post is over 2000 words long, though i tried to make it as talkative as possible so it doesn’t get dreary.
Navratri is special to me. As a Shakta, it has the most special significance there can be. Not only is it *the* most important festival for Shaktas and also for many non-Shaktas, it is also the time that is full of changes. There’s change in the weather (which is why I invariably have to end up with a runny nose and sore throat at this time), there’s change in the way people behave, and if you look closely, there’s always some major event in society which changes peoples’ outlooks on things for quite a while. Look closely; I’m not giving away what this time’s event is haha.
2 years ago, this was the time when i came out to my parents as gay. That was my event that year. You guessed it; this is going to be my coming out story.
For starters, let me correct myself; it was my psychiatrist at that time who told my mom after I asked him to. I was seeing him for what later came to be diagnosed as major depression (MDD) along with general Anxiety (GAD). I told him I was gay in the second session itself; I was dying to get it off my chest, you see. It feels great to be able to say what you are after you have fought with it, tried to hide it and wished yourself dead because of it. More on it later LOL. But I knew this needed to be told to my parents. I have this weird notion in my head that my family deserve to know everything about me. I’ve largely done away with it now, but it was pretty strong when I was that age.
The Early Stages
I guess I realised I was different when I was 5 or so. I found a lot of boys attractive at that age. Some were my age, some were probably triple. I wanted to get my nails painted, because it felt so amazing when someone in my family did it to me. I pestered my parents to get me a golden lehenga so I could dance to a song on which all the girls in my class were being taught to dance. Ok so the last two were indicators to my gender identity, but what did 5 year old me know about any of this? I just felt what i felt, and didn’t have any reason to think about it. The dreaded math homework was more of a concern then. Also, I couldn’t dance along with them, coz I had a penis. #Sexism, anyone?
Then at 13, I got a magazine which had a series of articles on the sexual practices in India. And I read about men living together, leading normal lives and being together through thick and thin. And of course, doing the dirty. Nothing had ever felt like a dream playing out in front of one’s eyes as this had. People like me were called gay. It was a shameful thing, i gathered from the article, it’s reports and from the unconscious judgement I felt.
Confused, I went to ask my grandfather what gay men were like? And let me say he did not opine very nicely of them, to say the least. I could not be a bad person in his eyes. And so began a very dark chapter in my life; a chapter of self hate, disgust and denial.
Mixing With Religion
I remember praying for hours at a stretch and asking to be cured. Everyone remarked that I was a “talented boy”. I could not be gay! It was my duty as a talented, mentally endowed son to give my parents all the happiness they deserved. And without an answer I prayed. I did receive an answer though, but that is a very personal story. Maybe I’ll tell that story in person sometime.
And so, when I didn’t get cured, I shunned all religion and became an atheist. That was when I was 14.
For starters, it meant I could partake in my adolescent fantasies without guilt, which was all I had got from reading those obscure dimwitted “traditional education” books I found at a relative’s. (I loved to read back then.) My atheism gave me the liberty to look outside the common biases that are inculcated into us as children unintentionally. So I refused to serve Brahmins when my grandmother passed away. I refused to partake in family worship out of fear of Divine wrath when I didn’t agree with the method of worship. A bunch of other things too; I don’t remember them exactly. But the shame of being gay still remained. I was still fearful that my family would throw me out, and that I would end up on the street begging for change, with a stolen pen scribbling on a disposed paper plate, writing because that was the only marketable skill I had. What can I say, your mind catastrophises when you’re scared.
The Chapter On Reconciliations
And so, without any source of condolence, hope or strength, I tried to reconcile myself with God. But it was all very pointless to me. I could do this flip flop for a very long time and have no progress in any direction, regarding my sexuality, my spiritual identity, or the very real implications my sexuality could have on my social life. All this hopelessness, sense of loss and sense of shame; it all dug into me and I tried all sorts of stupid things I regretted for quite a while. I tried falling in love with my best friend and forced myself to fantasize about a life with her; it didn’t work. I forced myself to watch straight intercourse, which was beyond disgusting to me. I dug for cures online, even looked up astrology as an atheist. Nothing worked.
Somewhere along the line, I realised that all that was scaring me was scary because I allowed it to enter my head. And that is when I decided that I had to accept who I was. I couldn’t be fighting what was irreversible and harmless. Yes, somehow I had reached the point where I realised it really was harmless to be gay. And I also decided that it wasn’t bad for me to have a religious identity; I could still choose what I followed and what I did to be in touch with Divinity. That is when I decided to worship Devi as the prime power and the other Gods as important but lesser than Her. Thus began my slow descent into Shaktism and the gradual rise of my confidence with my queerness.
My First Time
I first came out to a friend who used to enthrall me with Shakta knowledge, legends of the Devi, how his family worshiped Her, and how She had been a motif in his life. It probably wasn’t mere hindsight bias when I saw very similar motifs in my life too. It wasn’t quite surprising that he confessed he was gay too. And I’ll even admit he was my first crush haha. He’s still my crush I guess. That’s a theme I’m a bit protective about, coz he later seemed to be avoiding me and I became all riled up for him being that way and what not. But let’s move on.
The Meat and Potatoes of This Story
After telling quite a few friends in school, and then telling a girl who was instantly my best friend, and a crazy guy who is the one person I can never not find worthy of an “aww”, I went to a psychiatrist with my parents. I had been avoiding classes and hadn’t been eating anything for whole days (I had snapped, lol), and so finally after much requesting my parents agreed to take me to one. I confessed my sexuality to him, emboldened by the approval and love my friends had so lavishly bestowed on me, plus coz of the feeling that he couldn’t harm me, thanks to the whole mind game I had prepared if he ever outed me. Thankfully, he was nice and positive about it. He wasn’t down with the idea of me confessing it all to my parents though. But being a self-righteous idealist (dumbhead?), I asked him to tell them. I initially thought I’d be watching them talk, but he sent me out. And for good measure, I think. Once we were done with the talk later, I saw my mother drop huge tears as she silently stormed out of the hospital. It was the first day of Ashvin Navratri. And that was the event that has brought a sea change in my life. My mother cried on the side of the road as we waited to cross it. Every passing car made me extremely conscious. I suspected everyone for staring at her and liking that she was crying. And that made me intensely angry. She didn’t talk to me that afternoon, and even said something mean; I don’t remember what. It was my dad who called me after he had returned from work. He had talked to mom and he said he wanted to talk. Let’s not get into too much detail about what followed, but they said a lot of mean things, like I shouldn’t be doing this and I was ungrateful, and I should get out of the house if I wanted to be that way, and the thing i remember the clearest, “ghar se nikal jaiyo fir kisi ke sath bhi muh kala kar meri bala se”. My mother wanted me out of the house and then I could defile myself with whomsoever I fancied by her displeasure. Thankfully, they didn’t really mean it about me having to leave.
It’s been two years since then. In these two years, my dad has passed away, more people are now aware of my sexuality. I have had two serious but unfruitful relationships. I have grown in faith as a Shakta. Plus I have grown in my own sense of identity and security. I have also realised that maybe being gay is not the only queer part about me. My gender identity is something I have begun to explore, after getting comfortable with the idea that it is not mandatory to be either a masculine man or a feminine woman. Maybe, one of these days I’ll be able to tell you about myself more clearly.
I think the whole story has a hidden lesson regarding Shakti and Her nature. As the aggressive warrior, She tolerates no hiding beyond what is necessary. Fear is something that is antithetical to the Devi. And so I couldn’t be a true Shakta if I were hiding for my convenience, afraid to do what was necessary for my growth because it was uncomfortable to do so. And so She took me by the hand and did what had to be done on my behalf. I believe it was a blessing that I came out when I did, because it only made it easier for me to be more open and connected with my family, and with time my family learnt that I was still the same old person they had loved. My sexuality did not have a bearing on who I was for them. It gives me peace that my Dad knew something i consider essential about myself, my queerness, before leaving to be seated in Rama’s Feet. I was honest, and he had the time to get to know me a bit better before he had to leave. And I, him.
May all be blessed. May all be bestowed with peace.
Jai Bhavani 🙂