It usually takes unpleasant experiences to reveal to you the truth about yourself. Having the world take you for someone you’re not has to be one of those.
Gaurav Arora had a similar experience as a contestant on MTV Splitsvilla, a popular Indian reality dating show. While on the show, he was under constant scrutiny for his sexuality, and went on to confess that he was bisexual. When asked why he chose to appear as a contestant on a show meant for heterosexual people, Gaurav quips, “Why not? I can be as masculine or feminine as the other contestants there. I can do it better than them. That’s what I wanted to show to the world.”
However, the speculation he had to face wasn’t something new, as he recalls being bullied and called names even in his school years.
Gaurav now identifies as gay and believes that sexuality is fluid. “The earth is round, and there’s no such thing as straight. I can choose who I want to love and who I’m attracted to. People shouldn’t be restricted by tags”, he says when asked about his sexual identity.
Post his stint on the reality TV show, Gaurav felt more compelled than ever to own up to who he really was, and show it to the world unapologetically.
He underwent a conspicuous transformation, undergoing procedures such as laser hair removal and lip fillers. Not being one to shy away from the public eye, he posted glimpses of his transformation on social media for people undergoing a similar struggle to identify with and seek inspiration from. He believes it is a journey in itself, and is taking gradual steps towards changing for the better everyday.
Gaurav is also a counselor to people going through the same turmoil, and talks to them to make them feel good about themselves. One of the major challenges he has seen the LGBTQ community in India facing is posed by Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code.
“It is a regressive and archaic law. It denies us a basic human right and isn’t just detrimental to the LGBTQ community, but to the whole spectrum of humans in India”, he says.
Like any other person with an alternative sexuality, support from family and friends has played a pivotal role in Gaurav’s life as openly gay. Not being one to shy away from owning his sexuality, he feels that although his family supports him, there are certain factors that keep the support from being unconditional.
“They support me, but some things are stopping them from supporting me fully. They want to be more supportive, but societal norms and pressure will not let them. What I don’t understand is why I should change myself based on what people think about me.”
He also touches upon a very important factor that affects LGBTQ lives in India. It’s about the hypocritical attitude most people tend to assume when faced with such an issue.
“When I wasn’t in the open about my sexuality, people would call me names and ask, ‘Why don’t you tell us the truth?’ but now that I am openly gay, they’re like, ‘Okay, do what you want to, but keep it in the privacy of your own home’ People want you to be yourself, but then they condemn you for being vocal about it. That is why I believe in not listening to what they have to say and being myself without any qualms.”, he ends.
Now that, is one belief we all need to subscribe to.