Since publishing the article, the author has come out to her parents, getting a positive reaction.
I’ve reverted to being a teenager again.
Sneaking around, lying to my parents, fabricating people and stories to cover up my rebellious shenanigans.
I’ve just turned 24 and I’m having a quarter-life identity crisis.
This is a coming out story. But it’s never that simple, is it?
It can be an anxiety-inducing prospect to share your innermost feelings and desires to people who may not fully support you, even though they may love you. As a second generation Indian immigrant, I’ve grown up in a very heterosexual and quite close-minded culture, where I haven’t really been able to express my thoughts and emotions to my family, for fear of being judged. This fear is so ingrained in me, after years of being surrounded by judgmental relatives who always have something to say about my drinking, smoking, weight, and appearance. I’ve always hidden parts of my life from my parents - from occasional drug use to casual sex, and the one that’s eating me up the most: being bisexual.
Since I realised my queer identity around 7 years ago I’ve tried to incorporate queerness into conversations - whether it’s talking about my friends or relatives who I’m 99% sure are flying the rainbow flag like me, or swooning over gay icons. But my parents never delve into any of these conversations with me; they close up which means that I don’t ever feel completely myself around them. They’re a lot more liberal than most Indian parents which I’m so grateful for, but the fact that they’ve never had an open conversation with me about love, relationships and sex doesn’t make any of this coming out malarky any easier. I’ve felt ashamed about owning my body and sexuality and having slept around - and enjoyed it. I’ve learnt to accept that and I don’t need their acceptance to explore my sexuality - I’ll just continue to hide it for now.
(I don’t think any parent really wants to know how many people their kid has fucked, right?)
My parents were accepting of my ex-boyfriend, a Spanish guy who I met on Tinder and had a long distance relationship for most of the time we were together. Most of my extended family met him and welcomed him with open arms. I never felt nervous about saying I had a boyfriend. Heterosexual relationships are seen as the norm in my family and culture - a microcosm of antiquated views about sex, love and marriage - so there was no need to feel on edge. But that’s changed now that I’m in a loving and supportive relationship with a woman.
They don’t know about my girlfriend. They know of her through a fabricated story explaining that she’s basically a friend of a friend who I’m now extremely close to. At least I can mention her name in the house, but it’s killing me that I can’t be open about just how close we really are.
I came out to my older cousin back in 2015 under the sun by the famous Glastonbury sign at the beginning of my first Glastonbury experience. Along with my brother, he’s the only relative I can truly be myself with and talk about family, politics, mental health, and sexuality in an unrestrained way. Me and my brother are really close too, but I was only able to come out to him two months ago after many drinks and outside on his balcony having a smoke at 3am. I told him about my girlfriend and he was genuinely happy for me, and didn’t see why it would ever be a problem. He only got upset when I said I’d known about my sexuality for a good few years - he said I could’ve told him earlier, there was no need to bottle it up as we’re so close.
Suddenly he realised: “omg, mum and dad!” and started laughing. Not in a spiteful way, more like, “oh shit, I don’t envy you because those two may never understand”.
And he’s right. That’s why I’ve never said anything. How could I when we don’t even have open and honest conversations at home?
So, I’ve reverted to being a teenager again.
I don’t lie about who I’m with, but I always verbalise it as a platonic relationship.
I couldn’t explain that our lovely day at Columbia Road Flower Market and the Barbican conservatory was a Valentine’s thing, nor could I explain that I wanted to spend the weekend with my girlfriend and her family back in their hometown. Instead, I’ve had to cancel that because I just can’t fabricate a believable lie. It would be on my mind all weekend and that’s unfair to my girlfriend and her family. I have to keep them a secret as if I’m ashamed of it all.
I couldn’t be more grateful to my girlfriend for being so supportive as I go through waves of anxiety about lying so much and the thought of coming out. I know I should do it in my own time in the best way that’ll work for me, but I know it’s hurting my girlfriend to see me like this so I just want to get it over and done with. I don’t expect anything even vaguely positive about my coming out; I just want them to know, then they can do what they want with it.
After all, their reactions are not on me; they can deal with it how they like and however that may be is not my fault or my problem. They may never accept it - they may never even understand it.
But I’m at one with my sexuality and in a happy relationship and that’s all they should take away from it.