*Uday, 22, is a student from Mumbai.
A harmless stroll
My flatmates weren’t overtly homophobic, as I hadn’t come out to them, but were always uncomfortable around me due to my 'flamboyance'. So I decided to move to a new place during the second year of my undergrad and was very content with my new living arrangements.
My room formed a part of the landlord's own house. It was a hot summer night in mid-July. At around ten in the night, when I had finished my dinner and was planning to sleep, my doorbell rang. I realised it was my landlord. He asked me politely if I would like to take a stroll with him.
I considered it as an opportunity to build a rapport with him and agreed immediately. We walked around the entire colony and then within a park, all the while talking about our lives.
‘You’ll really like it’
It felt like two brothers bonding as he was much older to me but unmarried. During our conversations, he stated almost after every other sentence that he really liked me and saw a younger brother in me. Somewhere in the conversation, he also mentioned that he was drunk but I was okay with that.
When we returned to my room, he wanted to use the washroom. I said yes and started fiddling around with my phone. My back was towards the washroom door and I felt something was poking me. I looked around and what I saw next was shocking.
My landlord had whipped his penis out! He held me by my shoulders and pulled me closer by force, all the while jamming his nails into my arms. He pushed me down saying, 'don't worry, you'll like it!'
Bolt from the blue
There he was, a man responsible for my living arrangement, asking me to agree to his demands. In all the dilemma, I managed to ask why was he doing this. He said he had guessed my orientation as my hair wasn’t natural black but an electric blue!
I somehow managed to get out of his grip and moved to the other corner of the room. He was blocking the only door to the apartment and so I couldn’t go anywhere else.
I pleaded him to leave, being as courteous as possible fearing if I become aggressive, he could get more violent. After he left, and once the reality sank in, I immediately called up my best friend and told her what had happened.
No country for queers
I made arrangements to not stay the night there, gathered my essentials and left the house. To whoever I confessed this, they were extremely supportive. But the biggest dilemma was if I should report the incident to the police.
However, I decided against it. I couldn’t have gone to the police or any other authority because I knew that given my appearance they'd question me, my sexuality instead of dealing with the incident as a sexual assault, irrespective of what my orientation is.
Worse was the fear of getting blackmailed or even jailed because of the archaic Section 377.
No real choice
I do not think of myself as a survivor. I do not want anyone’s pity, sympathy or empathy. All I need is for my country to protect me from violence and threats. But as a queer person, I don’t have that simple basic right.
Moreover, no one wants to talk about it. Every day, we have to decide against being who we are and live the way we want to because we know we will face harassment. We have no choice but to live a false life and be someone else.
Nothing makes an assault ok
My landlord assumed I am gay because of my hair colour, and consequently thought I’d be okay if he just springs up on me. He perhaps also knew that I wouldn’t report it and felt he could take the liberty. It makes me angry that he thought that he could do anything to me and I was unable to do a thing about it.
Though very difficult and painful, this incident has made me realise that I need to be vocal about sexual orientation. I want to derive pleasure out of my queerness, not hide it, which means that I will have to fight hard to earn what should be my right – the ability to live and love freely without any fear or shame in my own country. And I will fight for it – for myself and for those who are still suffering silently.
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the person/s in the picture is/are models.