Coming out of the closet is never easy. In some cases, it’s probably easier to tell strangers you’re gay than your parents. But amid all this, we often forget that before coming out, there is a phase when one must acknowledge and accept it themselves — that it’s okay and completely normal. Sharing his feelings about this personal dilemma and the battle with himself first and then the world, a 29-year-old Sikh man’s narrative about his journey has touched a chord with many.
Being gay was difficult, says the Birmingham-based gay rights activist, coming from a traditional background where gender roles were clearly defined. Manjinder Singh Sidhu tried to lock up his feelings for years before he finally came out, as he explained in an interview with Metro, UK.
“Ever since I was little I guess I knew I was different. When I started going through puberty, I started feeling awkward at school. I didn’t feel as macho as all the other boys. But I didn’t necessarily feel feminine either. I was in between,” he said. “I started noticing that I was getting attracted to boys. When I looked in clothing catalogues, I would look at the men and get aroused by them. I knew it was wrong, I knew society and my family thought it was wrong… I just knew that men marry women and that’s it,” he added.
Sidhu even said, “I used to try to change myself every night before I went to sleep. I tried to brainwash myself and say, I’m going to marry a woman, this is how it’s gonna be.”
Eventually, he garnered the courage to tell his sister but could not open up in front of his parents. Unable to muster the courage to tell them directly, he finally Not being able to directly speak to them about his orientation, he just sent them a text message. That didn’t help, since his parents did not understand English. Finally, his sister translated and tried to make them understand.
Initially, his parents were not able to digest the fact their son was gay, but they later accepted it. Sidhu added “They said they would provide for me and love me no matter what. It was such a shock!”
Now, his mother is so supportive that she has even been a crusader for the LGBTQ movement. So much so, in a candid conversation in Punjabi with her son on a Youtube video, this extremely progressive mother categorically advises other parents to be compassionate and understanding of their children’s orientation.
That she understands that sexual preference is not a choice, and not to be messed around with, she also categorically says that those who “choose this life are doing wrong, and they should not. But if it’s a natural choice, then parents should love and care for their kids as they would otherwise too”.
The conversation has been filmed in Punjabi with the intention of reaching out to those parents who do not speak or understand English.
Sidhu, a human rights graduate, is working on a book called Bollywood Gay to fight the stigma attached to homosexuality in South-Asian countries, particularly in India. “He has also launched a website called My Spiritual Soul where he continues to post videos about his life as an Asian gay man,” adds a news report.