#Art + Culture

To Come Out Or Not: Five Queer People Speak About Importance Of Owning Your Sexuality

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Coming out of the closet can be a challenging aspect of one’s life. Not only is a risk of ostracisation associated with it but it can also lead to a build-up of anxiety and stress. Though it can be a very liberating and freeing process as it sets the way for a person’s future life. But people also need to consider the cost of it thoroughly, especially if they are living in an orthodox setup.

Yet, you are the only person who can decide when and how you want to come out or maybe not. Also, you may decide to come out in one part of your life and not in another. The decision of coming out when and where, is a very personal one, and shouldn’t be influenced by any external factors. Sometimes it’s a lifelong process, for others, it is a one-broad-stroke move to change the landscape of their life.

This Pride Month, we spoke to some folks from the LGBTQIA+ community, in order to find out how important it is to come out of the closet or not and the struggles associated with it. 

While speaking with us, Suraj opened up that growing up as a gay kid in Assam, was not an easy ordeal, but they made it through. When they were asked the question about how important they think coming out was, they noted that one needs to prioritize their mental health before coming out. “People will not understand you immediately, because they have never heard or seen that before. They will call it unnatural. In those moments Focus On Yourself,” they remarked. 

Coming out can help pave the way for accepting one’s sexuality, and orientation, and embracing themselves just the way they are; further accentuating people’s sense of expression. Smitin, an IIT graduate who expresses himself via the art of make-up and dance, talked to SheThePeople. He mentioned how important he feels it is to come out of the closet, “I feel with coming out, there comes self-acceptance. Like this is who I am and that is okay. You become proud of yourself, of who you are. I think that is why it becomes one of the most important steps of the journey ”

You become proud of yourself, of who you are.

Yet, however, in our society coming out causes exclusion from family. People refuse to accept their own family members the way they are. Such abandonment can cause really dreadful memories. It worsens the case if they are not in a stable space in their life. Utkarsh took 4 years to convince their parents about their sexuality, and in the end, they gave up on it. They quoted, “It took me like 4 years and more to convince them that I am gay, but you know one day I was like this is it. I am who I am. So, make sure you are financially stable, before coming out. As reality could be harsher than what it looked like before” 

Doubtlessly, it took real courage to come out in a society where people believe only in cis het sexual orientation. The real question that lies in people’s heads and hearts is finding safe spaces which can act as a support system in a god-forbid time of crisis. Spending most of his life in Kanpur before getting into engineering college Pulkit never thought of coming out. But he always knew that he was living a lie. “ You know, being in a closet for 20 years was a lie, in a sense that I was not the person I was pretending to be. When I came out, It felt like denying the lie I was living for years,” said he. 

When I came out, It felt like denying the lie I was living for years

There are parts of the journey in coming out that are rosy and glitter but there are some with thorns and dullness. Even the strangers’ comments could be consternation leading to the deterioration of mental health. A 20-year-old budding illustrator and historiographer, Manjishtha spoke about the fear associated with it. She said, “People think it’s a political agenda, some western philosophy; but no it’s something that affects me every single day. To be honest, it’s scary, there ain’t any specific laws about it, to protect us. Being open about your sexuality publicly is new and scary. It could harm you in ways unknown.’’

Coming out of the closet is a personal choice. Period! You should prioritize your safety, mental health and financial stability. Coming out doesn’t have a deadline, so do it when you feel is the right moment, considering the circumstances and consequences. Happy Pride!

Coming out of the closet is a personal choice. Period!

Views are not subjugated in any way. People from the LGBTQIA+ were interviewed for this purpose.  

Suggested Reading: Loved Leo Kalyan? Here Are Other Queer South Asian Musicians You Must Listen