I was raised in a Christian home, every Sunday I would enter the sacred place where people sit in pews, listening to the stories, sing praises and the smell of candles and guilt mixed together. I am also Queer, but this is just how the world juxtapose most things in my life. My grandfather is a pastor, extremely devoted and would never miss a Sunday and always helped my grandmother prepare sumptuous Sunday meal. The quintessence of old fashion comfort, we would arrive in church in an ambassador, quite functional for it’s age. It was one Sunday evening, I remember my grandmother toiling around in her garden, while I was holding a beautiful pristine doll, I stroked her fine hair, soft hair and contort her delicate frame into any position I pleased; a group of boys passing by had notice me playing with a “girl’s toy” and promptly made fun of me, on hearing this, my grandmother objurgated them and they ran off. She would never condemn this behaviour displaying femininity at young age but forewarned the mockery that I have to endure. When I joined school, I slowly stopped playing with barbie dolls and was forced to conform to the societal definitions of being a boy, but I knew she kept them to cache adorable childhood memories. My teenage years became more of an entropy, it was a tough and excruciating struggle of inner conflict and denial, I knew I was “different”, but this new identity took years for me to reconcile. When I finally came out to my mother and the rest of the world, my grandparents were still so much in the dark, this blemished our relationship, how can I be so unfair to the people who have always guided me and loved me?
It has been two years I have never stepped foot in a Church, I always had the notion that the Church was intolerant and would discriminate marginalised people. It was and has been rough years of resentment rather than forgiveness. These years of loneliness and the concept of pain that we all endure, we feel hurt and I know this is what many of my queer friends are going through. I joined college in the big city, a dream most queer people have (romanticising metropolitan cities to be more accepting towards people who are different). I lost contact with many of my family members, friends, cutting off anything that was associated with home, away. The conservative Christian small-town belief is that we we’re condemned and it’s disgusting and abomination, so we felt most of those feelings projected on us. It was a struggle to the point where I did not like being around most of my family members and returning home. The church would antagonise and evangelise at the same time; therefore, I was not comfortable coming out to my grandparents because I was afraid of the denigration they would be showered upon, especially for my grandfather who was a leader of the church. However, my mother felt the exigency to tell them as she was afraid that they would be confronted by other people who knew, it would hurt them even more. I was oblivious about what was happening back home and living the strenuous city life. I received a call from my grandfather and he said “We love you no matter what and you will always be our child”, I was confounded as I did not know that my mother has “outed me”; I only had complete conviction when I returned back home.
My grandparents had reflected upon this, they read more of my journals in an attempt to understand how I felt. They tried to make an effort on learning about these identities that had gradually grown more nuance. They were curious and open-minded, this taught me so much about unconditional love. Their acceptance has allowed me to let go a lot of the resentment that I had towards the Church, the love that they radiate has helped me felt belonged. I always thought that their faith was an impediment on our relationship, but they choose to look pass that, they knew the individual I was, they made that choice and not all parents do that.
My coming out or rather being outed makes to reflect on the fact that one has to transcend the constraint of society and religion to be true to oneself. My grandparents despite being devout Christians could transcend the homophobia in Christianity because of their love for me. They know when to draw a line between the private and the public. However, for many people, this is not the case and they have to face rejection, punishment and even honour killing because those who professed to love them happened to love their religion more. So, they are stuck in this pernicious endless loop of discrimination starting right from the family. Coming out has never been easy for anyone and most queer people choose not to do so because of the sense of loss that would haunted them after.
In her book, Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Sedgewick, opines that coming out is a very nuance term. How would we define someone who have been out? Is it necessary for us to come out to our parents? Or should it be applied to anyone who is at least comfortable with the idea of us being queer? She also remarks that coming out is a multidimensional process and involves many phases. One thing about being a queer in northeast India is the peculiar nature of this coming out process. Because our parents are still neck deep in the muddy slime of bigotry and prejudice, we are forced to substitute the closet for something else. For us, coming out is not necessary. Living in big cities, partying and sex offers a sort of escape from the suffocating atmosphere of home. Hence, our coming out of the closet is the free life that we are living which no one at home need to know. It is not that we hide it from them. It’s just that we consider our private life as something primacy only to us. I was one of the few people who could come out to my family, my friend and classmates. But for many north easterners, our coming out is our ability to be authentic to our own self and the city offers us that.
Reach the author at email@example.com