As the pride month came to an end, along with that the woke discourse and the rainbows of tokenism that marks the month. The community needs comprehensive dialogue, so much so that it brings forth each aspect of their wellbeing. Pride Month is the month of celebration for the community but society needs to spare them the grounds to be proud of their sexuality and owning it like a boss. It shouldn’t be at the discretion of the approval of others. And it isn’t too much to ask. At least this is what V. believes in.
V. is a 24-year-old young boy from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh who just finished his graduation in BSc in Biology from MVM College, Bhopal. And you must be wondering if he is too late to finish his graduation, well, I leave that to your discretion but what took his 3 crucial years of youth is clinical depression. V was diagnosed with clinical depression in his third year of drop. What led him to depression? Is this what you are thinking, then the answer is — society. How? I’ll tell you.
Since childhood, we are buried with ambitions with(out) before even discovering who we are. We are propelled to decide what we want to become — a doctor or an engineer? Brillant. Theatre, filmmaking — is that even an ambition? V. childhood was no different. While preparing for medicine, V. interest deflected to filmmaking, for two reasons — one he likes to narrate stories, he wants to be a storyteller, and the other was that he wanted to leave India and settle abroad. V wanted to settle outside India because he was convinced that he would have no life in India with his sexual preference and orientation.
V. is a homosexual who is attracted to men/boys since he understood his sexuality but as he grew up he was convinced that he will never be accepted in India. V. says “ I wanted to go out where homosexuality is socially accepted and a place where I can live my life freely.” V. hasn’t come out as yet, not to family, not to his friends only to the people of the community.
Life hasn’t been easy for V. While preparing for medicine, he met with an accident which created a void in his preparation and because of which he took his first-year gap, where he started reading novels and indulged in literature and movies. Slowly getting nearer to his destined path as his interest began to lean towards filmmaking and slowly he realised that he doesn’t want to be a doctor. The young boy discovered not only who he is but also what he wants to become in life. A discovery that takes years and often a whole lifetime.
As V. narrates his story to me, he was continuously confirming that nobody was around and listening to him, while he opens about his challenges and his sexuality.
“The struggle didn’t end with me discovering my passion, my mind was clouded with whether or not people would accept me if they knew my sexuality. The thought of becoming a public figure and opening about my sexuality terrified me. I thought nobody will give me work if they will know who I am. This was my ‘biggest fear’ and I considered continuing my medical preparation.” “Medical field mai hi sahi rahegi life,” he sighed.
The inner conflict led to another year in drop. “I was diagnosed with clinical depression in my third year of drop and things got out of hand.”
V. told his parents that the reason for his stress was not being able to secure admission in a medical college. Whereas he told his friends that he is not interested in medicine but wants to become a filmmaker. Undoubtedly, V. was leading three lives, one to his family, one to his friends, and the real self-revealed only to him.
“I was not able to give up the thought of coming into the limelight, disclosing my sexuality and the reactions of my loved ones. I was not fully convinced to give up medicine and pursue my passion, even when I knew that this is what I want to become in life.”
The struggles and challenges did not end just yet for V. Going to a psychiatrist for a check-up had its own challenges. “As you know about the lack of awareness on mental health in India, my parents didn’t even notice changes in my behaviour. I was avoiding my friends, family, everybody,” he said.
“I was distracted the whole time, couldn’t concentrate in my NEET classes and because of which I started bunking the classes,” he added.
“I did not open about my sexuality to anybody, not even friends and that was affecting my mental health.” “3rd year drop mai mental condition bahut buri ho gayi thi.”
“Somehow, my friends convinced my parents regarding my mental state and we went to see a doctor and I was diagnosed with clinical depression.” To which his father said, “Aaj ke baad kabhi mat kehna ki psychiatrist ke paas jaana hai, pagal nahi ho tum.”
“I eventually tried to help myself, I controlled overthinking and finally had the courage to say to myself ‘ karte hai abhi, jo hoga dekha jayega. I took admission in BSc and got into theatre and as I opened up to the people from the community I thought to myself that the situation is not that bad. I had imagined the worst of scenarios.”
“ I used to think that if I happened to live in India, I would have no life. I don’t want to hide forever. I want to introduce my husband to the world, and raise children with him. But what I saw around me I couldn’t forgo the worst picture from my mind.”
As V. started to open up within the community, began to write and meet new people, he realised the situation is not that bad. But V. is still not ready to open up.
“I am in a better frame of mind now, but I cannot come out to my family and friends till I am financially independent. I want to live in Mumbai or Pune and want to have a relationship. But I will have to wait.
According to notable author Ramya Mishra and LGBTQ activist, “Coming out is something special for everyone. There are no fixed formulas attached to it. But one thing is for sure financial independence is the buzzword, before revealing your identity to everyone. Even after attaining a good job with a nice package, always be aware of your surroundings. It might be possible that your workplace might not be into inclusivity and diversity. In such a case, opening to your colleagues might be detrimental to your career growth. Don’t be in a hurry to come out. This is not some wonderful American or European Gay series we are watching, where the gay kids are welcomed with rainbow cakes. This is India please be realistic, your family and loved ones are conditioned to a school of thought. Changing that thought process at that age is not easy. Give them time to adjust to this news and be around to answer all their questions, even if they might sound cute, funny, intriguing, or infuriating.”
“Inviting two or three community members to your house would be good. This will make your parent’s transition a bit easy. A word of caution, if they are in total denial then don’t try this out, it might lead to embarrassment for all the parties,” she adds.
“Yes, financial independence plays a crucial role in coming out, at least to me and many like me. I like to be sure about things. I cannot dwell in uncertainties about myself and my future. I am preparing for CAT, I will do MBA, get a job and create a life I dreamed for myself and simultaneously follow my passion of writing and get into filmmaking in future,” concluded V. with affirmation.