My journey started ten years ago, when I gave life to a blog called “Fabulous Asia”; the idea was to gather information from all over world, package it and present it in a way that my readers would understand. It ran for about seven years and the main concept was to amplify causes to make them more visible. The reason behind my blog was my best friend. He tested HIV positive and when he told me, I called my mother, who was then working with a public hospital in Kuala Lumpur. She managed to find a top doctor in KL to start the treatment but then, I still felt like I needed to do something – to connect people, to share information. One year I received an email from someone in Bhutan telling me how happy he was to have found my blog, because it opened up so many more avenues for him; it was about creating access to information, website for queer individuals, and his email gave me a fantastic feeling. The blog received a lot of attention when I was interviewed by I.S. magazine for World Aids day, and other media promotional activities. It was around this time that I got involved with some LGBT outreach work and queer activism in Singapore – having always admired the work that Sayoni does – due to other commitments, I had to close down the blog. As I grow older, my views and take on life have also evolved. Today I am working on a blog that is a product of my evolution, called “Gold and Fabulous” which is a spin-off from “Fabulous Asia”.
Being GAY is not a choice but it is similar to being born a female or male. It just takes us a longer time to realize that we are who we are because of all the terms created by society. I must give credit to my mother who is the glue that binds our family. Mind you, I have not come out to my mother in a traditional sense of throwing a party but she knows that I am gay, she has met my friends and we have had serious conversations about HIV. I chose to approach my mother differently. I have never said I take part in pride events, or blatantly declared that I might someday like to marry a man. My mother has also never directly asked me if I am gay. She knows I have sexual relationships with men. I think I might introduce her to my next boyfriend (I am single now) to her but I wouldn’t push it down her throat and say this is my lifestyle, this is me, you have to accept it. I will never put her through it and it is not fair to blame her for not understanding or expecting her to accept and embrace. It’s not her fault. She grew up in a time where being gay was thought of as being more of a choice, a choice which was bad. But of course, like most Indian mothers, she always feels that it is her responsibility to get her son married. Nothing you say can change that. After my sister’s wedding last year she said, “I have never felt so happy in my life…” We were driving home and she was in a state of near bliss. Then she said… “BUT… I am going to go one day and I’ll leave you alone…” My mum is 65. Maybe one day I will feel alone. However the mystery of the future makes life more interesting (dare I say worth living).
I think the most essential journey was for me to come out to myself and be 100% comfortable in my own skin. This in itself was a reflective harsh road. Most people start off not knowing what it is and then you discover yourself, you meet friends; you discover the Internet and you discover that you are not alone. I knew I was different in school. I still remember me walking into my first Internet cafe. I got in this gay chat, GayKL and I saw so many people there… I was like WOO HOO… after that was all experimentation and stuff. It was a milestone in my life when I realized I was not alone in it. At 22, I was at peace with myself and comfortable accepting my sexuality but most importantly knowing who I am. People are shy to outright ask me if I am gay but if they do I just say ‘YES’. I now know that it is not necessary to explain myself or to look towards their acceptance.
I have heard of horror stories but nothing terrible has happened to me – some mild homophobia, some name-calling but nothing has shaken me to the core. When I was in the UK, I worked closely with people who experienced homophobia and even prejudice from their love ones. I feel for those who had to endure such physical and mental torment. Thankfully the world is very different place now, with more countries legalizing same sex marriage, a place where people in a small red dot can gather and form a big pink dot, to show the world “We are queer and we are here to stay”. I feel we are heading in the right direction. However it’s -only the beginning and we have long journey ahead of us – to help the people understand and to drive out fear and ignorance. I believe constant education and supplying of information within people’s reach is the way towards acceptance.
Coming out is definitely a very loose term. Who are you coming out to – yourself or the people around you? You need to love yourself, this person who is gay/lesbian/queer, because you can’t change the world if you can’t be comfortable with yourself. This journey within will be the most important one; beyond activism and beyond how you will affect the lives of other people. You don’t have to be an activist to teach people not to fear the difference. You need to come out to yourself and say I am happy with being me and I love being me. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” I know my journey…
It is a journey of self-acceptance and expanding my reach…I am happy I have made my presence felt and will continue my work with passion for what I believe in. Thank you for reading my story and hope I inspired you in some way! 🙂