Outed to my parents: my Delhi Pride disaster

By Roli Mahajan Monday, August 26, 2013 - 16:04
“I needed to celebrate being a lesbian,” says Amrita. Delhi was having its second Queer Pride Parade, and she was excited to take part. But there was a problem lurking: she hadn’t dared to tell her parents about her sexuality.

Amrita (not her real name) is a graduate from Delhi, currently working for an NGO.

Over the past couple of years, I have realised that I favour girls over boys. I come from an orthodox family and I never really could understand how girls could be attracted to girls – until it happened to me.

I couldn’t understand – why did I feel jealous if a friend who was a girl would kiss a guy in front of me? Why would I feel bad when she told me stories about ‘touchy-muchy’ happenings on a date?

I spent a year fighting my attraction, and time with a counsellor trying to understand my identity. Most of my friends have tried to help me come to peace with myself.

Warning But I wasn't ‘out of the closet’ for my family. I hadn’t had the courage to discuss my sexuality with my parents. However, my parents don’t live in Delhi, so I thought at the Pride parade I would be able to find acceptance and bonding among friends, make a statement – and yet remain anonymous.

I remember my roommate warning me to be careful. The more people dress and act to attract attention the more trouble they can get into, she said. I remember passionately explaining that she shouldn’t be paranoid. I felt unbeatable. I had no idea what sort of trouble was she talking about – but I learnt at my own expense.

Joy I didn’t go for a mask but had a pretty bindi painted on my head, wore some really colourful clothes, a feathered head-dress and bracelets.

I’m not sure what did I expect, but we moved on the walk and there were colours all around me. I was surrounded by friends. It was overwhelming. All I remember is the feeling of ‘belonging’.

We stopped at a variety of places and there would be ‘dhol baja dance’. It was at one of these moments that out of sheer joy I started dancing and I looked almost like a peacock with the feathers, bracelets and colours. I saw a lot of people taking photographs and I didn’t mind.

When I returned to my hostel, I told my roommate that “nothing untoward happened, so I hadn’t really needed the careful warning”.

Forbidden to go home Next morning when I went down, people were giving me odd looks. And just then my girlfriend came, hugged me and showed me a newspaper. My photograph adorned the city magazine and it seemed that my dancing photograph had been a hit with a lot of newspapers.

All I could pray for was that this photograph had not reached my hometown. I wanted to call home to ask but if the photograph hadn’t been used there it would raise suspicion.

That evening I got a call from home. I was told that my parents would have preferred not to have a child rather than someone gay. I was forbidden to call home or go home.

Unsorted I now live with my girlfriend in Delhi. People think of us as two girls sharing a flat rather than as ‘girlfriends’.

I haven’t been home. My father hasn’t spoken to me since. Small steps have been taken by my siblings and mother to small conversations. It’s better than nothing but I am just not sure how hopeful I should be.

I do reflect on that day, my happiness and my arrogance. I sometimes wish that I had listened to my roommate’s advice and not attracted so much attention to myself. Especially when I was still so unsorted on a lot of counts.

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