In India. the LGBT+ community has only recently begun to have conversations about themselves and what affects them. With barely any laws in place, the community has a long struggle ahead. But there has been a peek in the number of people who are out and proud. And workspaces have begun to reflect this change. So what does it really mean for people to be out at work in India? Arjun Das, Mr. Gay India 2019’s first runner up shares his insights on the matter.
Hi, I’m Arjun Das. I am from Mumbai and work as a designer. Here’s is me sharing my story about the rollercoaster of a journey that I have been through to get where I am.
An Introverted childhood
My childhood was very tough. I consider it a worse part of my life. I was very fat, feminine and soft-spoken. So I use to be bullied in school and was at home as well. Sometimes I have been physically beaten by my classmates and cousin brother. I only use to cry in response.
Whenever my mom saw all this she tried to protect me and fought with them but it was not possible for her also to be with me all the time. So I become very introvert. My confidence and self-worth were crushed. I use to be scared of everything. And I use to lock my self in the room so that I don’t have to face my relatives.
At the age of 14, I started feeling that I was different. I was not excited about girls the way my male friends use to be.
“That day I realized I am gay.”
So I thought I should have a girlfriend whom I will marry because in my entire life I only saw relationships between one guy and one girl. So following the trend I also had a girlfriend after 10th class. Around that time only 2009 gay sex was decriminalized and the internet became available. So there was a lot of buzz in news and internet regarding LGBTQ. That time I realized that I man can be in an emotional relationship with a man and it’s called gay. After 12th my girlfriend got married and it didn’t affect me much at that time I realized that I never really loved her. She was only there in my life because of peer pressure.
I met a guy in a common friend house we connected on the first meet itself. We become best friends and started feeling for each other. I told him about my feelings one day but he denied in fear of society and he didn’t want to disappoint his parents. That that I was crushed. Broken emotionally. That day I realized what is love and also realized I am gay.
First love and luck followed
I think I was lucky to find love in my third year of college. He was very bold and unapologetically gay. I mostly got attracted to him because of his boldness. When I got into a relationship with him I got the strength to face the consciences of being open in college. Because I know that no matter whether society except me or not I will have him standing beside me. I was tired of being in the closet and pretending to be someone else.
I came out to my family after I became financially independent. Because I thought my parents will disown me after knowing I am gay. But I proved to be lucky again and my mom and sister excepted me.
How did Mr gay India happen?
When I moved to Bangalore for work I broke up with my college boyfriend because distance relationship was not working out. I started partying a lot to come out from my break up. I got addicted to drink and sex. After a while, I realized that I am wasting my life. I am just surviving not living. At the same time I met many LGBTQ people. Heard there sad story some of them are thrown out of the family for being gay, some are been raped in childhood, some got raped on a Grindr date, some got married and are living a painful dual life.
Then I realized that I should bring the change in society. That is the purpose of my life. So I decided to take part in Mr. Gay India to change the situation for people who are not lucky enough to have a supportive family like me.
Most people in the office didn’t have any problem with my sexuality. But I know people talk about it behind my back. Few people have stopped talking to me after knowing. But I don’t care about all this anymore
Before Mr gay India only a few close people knew that I am gay. But after I won the title of Mr. gay India the CEO of Raymond showed my winning pictures in the annual award ceremony and said that he was very proud of me. That day everyone got to know in the office that I am gay.
A lot of people congratulated me on becoming the runner up Mr gay India and few people stopped talking to me. If we cross each other in the office they pretend to be busy on the phone. They did not even reply when I say hi. The same people use to talk to me a lot whenever they see me. So it hurts.
Most clients didn’t get to know that I am gay. Some of them came to know about it and it’s ok for them.
Since I work in the fashion industry, my sexuality doesn’t effort my work much. But I know that in other industries it’s not the same.
How can we make a difference?
I think people should talk to their office people about the recent news about the LGBTQ community. With the answers, they can figure out there mentality. I think if someone is openly gay then people don’t take them that seriously. People challenge their authority and make fun of them behind their backs. Since people think that gays are sex seekers so they keep the distance. They link your name with your boss if you are doing well at work. Spread a lot of rumors of hookup with other guys in the office.
It is very important because living a dual life is very difficult. It’s like playing a role in a drama for life long. One can only shine until his/ her highest potential if they are themself if they feel excepted and loved. And we spend half of our life in the office only. So it’s very important to come out in the office for mental peace.
It’s also important because by looking at one person other people will get inspired and have guts to come out. That is what happened in my case. After people came to know about me some other people also came out in the office. It made them feel that they are not alone.
I think most people discriminate because of a lack of knowledge. They have a misunderstanding of the LGBTQ people mostly because of the negative portrait of LGBTQ people in the film industry. And sadly that’s the only source of knowledge for most Indians. Thankfully the situation is changing. Bollywood is producing movies like “Ek Ladki ko Dekha to” and “Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan” where LGBTQ people are shown as a normal human being with emotion and not just a seeker.