*Dhruv, 28, identifies himself as gay. He is a data scientist in Pune and shared his story with our writer Aastha.
One day, Shilpa Didi and I were watching the movie ‘Dostana’ on TV. I was close to her so I I told her how I felt about Namit, my friend at school. She thought I was joking – just like in the movie.
She also told our parents. They also obviously dismissed it all as a joke or worse, as an attention-seeking stunt. For them, this was an unbelievable – something they had never dreamt of or even imagined.
Our parents knew about the term gay, but as something comical that happens in Karan Johar movies or as something foreign. Having a gay person in their own house was out of question.
The humiliating night
As the years passed, I became more and more comfortable with my sexuality and came out to my friends. The news spread like wildfire within a few days in my small city of Pantnagar. My family became furious and stopped talking to me.
Luckily, I had a college trip the same week and I went out of town. I had a relaxed time there and came back after a week.
As I reached home late that night, I sneaked into my home with a set of spare keys and quietly went into my room. I did not want to disturb anyone at 2 a.m. in the night. As I hit the bed after changing, I was woken up by Shilpa Didi. She told me that she wanted to talk.
Mom and dad were upset with me and wanted me to stop going public about my sexuality, she said. It was ruining the family reputation and would also affect her own marriage proposals, she added.
I refused. I tried reasoning with her but it was of no use. Argument lead to a shouting match and it ended with she hitting me with a pair of her slippers. It felt humiliating but I let her.
Times of change
More than five years have passed since that incident. I stood my ground and got a job in another city. The physical pain has gone but the mental agony of the day remained with me for a long time.
Times changed and Didi got married. We did not lose touch and talked about everything except my sexuality.
However, gradually our parents and Didi came around and have now accepted me as I am.
Last year, when Didi visited me in Pune on Rakshabandan with Jiju and kids, my partner Mayank was with me. Mayank had jaundice so I was taking care of him. Didi not only gave him medicine when I went to office but also cooked for him.
My sister now likes my page on Facebook, where I keep posting my view about gay rights. She even likes and comments on my photos with Mayank. Mayank and I plan to visit Didi for Diwali holidays. I am sure our parents will also be there and accept me with Mayank. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best.
*Dhruv shared his story with Love Matters India for our campaign #AgarTumSaathHo - celebrating Support, Acceptance and Allyship at the International Pride Month 2019. Through the month, we will publish stories of support, acceptance, love, and respect that members of the LGBTQ community have given and/or received from friends, colleagues, parents, teachers, partners or society at large.
*To protect the identity, names have been changed and the people in the picture are models.