Out of the closet

Out of the closet

Boy meets girl. They fall in love. And yes, they live happily ever after. Isn’t that how the conventional love story goes?


But, accept it or not, there are alternate love stories with alternate endings. With prejudice against homosexuality still alive in India, members of Bangalore’s LGBT community describe their unique ‘boy meets boy’ stories.

“I’ve always appreciated men,” shrugs Shyam Konnur, an event manager, who reminisces about how he tried dating girls because that was the ‘norm’. Twenty-eight-year-old Kurien Kalarickal agrees, “Hugs and holding boys’ hands were reciprocated with no qualms till about 12,” he says. “It was only when I read about it did I realise that I was what was called a ‘homosexual’,” he laughs.


Though learning about their sexuality was equally confusing for both men, Kurien chuckles at how he came out quite publicly to his college friends during a hazing session. For Shyam, however, revealing the truth about his sexuality was met with much more criticism. Visiting gay bars in the City, hoping to find someone like himself, Shyam finally saw a bunch of guys who were almost exactly like him, he was truly relieved.


Disclosing this information to his straight friends was not so easy, however. Says a rueful Shyam, “The first person I spoke about it to was my best friend. Sadly, he was also very homophobic.” Shyam’s friend refused to speak to him and even beat him and his gay friends up, blaming his ‘condition’ on them. Though they don’t speak anymore, Shyam doesn’t hold a grudge against him, recognising that he is one of many who have little knowledge about homosexuality.


Closer home, both Kurien and Shyam have opened up to their parents. “All my cousins were getting married and having babies,” says Kurien, who told his parents very recently. “My mum had absolutely no idea what it even meant,” he says. Kurien even sends his parents books and newspaper cuttings to help them understand him better. On a more serious note, he recalls, “When I first told them, mum was silent for a couple of days and dad cried a lot. He tried to make me see a therapist to make me ‘normal’ – they both had dreams of me having a grand family.”


Shyam, describes how his family learned the truth. “I was in the news when the Health Minister issued a statement calling homosexuality a disease,” he remembers. While Shyam’s mother was supportive, problems arose when Shyam’s father thought that city-life had changed him. Finally, Shyam had to give his family an ultimatum. “Now, we talk but avoid the topic,” he says.


At workplace, Kurien doesn’t make it a point to disclose his identity. “My colleagues and clients just know me as the fun guy with colourful pants,” he grins.
Shyam’s work atmosphere, on the other hand, is extremely welcoming and supportive. “They’re proud that I’m open about myself,” he says. “They even point out cute men if we’re out for coffee,” he laughs.


While some accept homosexuality as an alternate form of love, there is still a vast majority of drastically homophobic Bangaloreans. Be it problems faced at the home-front, the workplace or amongst friends, discrimination and prejudice are still prevalent in every social setting. The question that is left unanswered is whether we can take conventional love stories and squeeze in a slight queer quirk.

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