How I came out to my BOSS!

A month and a half into my current job I was hosting my birthday party at a local pub. A lot of people from work swung by. Some stayed until it was time for the pub to close down while others left after guzzling down the free booze. Cheap liquor, great food, loud and lively music added to the ambiance. Every passing hour brought in a fresh wave of younger people or so they appeared through my drunken eyes. It was a great night. As drunk as I was I had successfully ensured not to hit on anyone from work or act inappropriately in any way.

I woke up the next morning with a terrible hangover. Which acted as a sad reminder (for the next 24 hours) that I was not a teenager anymore. I collected myself and got off the bed, freshened up and picked up my cell phone, which was thankfully still with me. In the midst of all the congratulatory messages wishing me “Happy Birthday” was a message from my boss which read:

“Dear Ryan,

It does not matter t0 me who you like and If you like men then that’s something else we have in common. Hugs!”

Wait. What?

I tried to re-run last night through my mind over and over again but could not remember coming out to anyone, let alone my boss. I buried my face into my hands and just sat on the edge of my bed feeling embarrassed and humiliated, wondering if she was the only person who now knew my secret or if it was everyone.

She hugged me again as I walked into my office and asked if I was alright. “I guess, it depends” was all that came out of me. She told me that I had told her just as she was about to leave.

Phew! Thankfully it was just her who knew. Thankfully I had not made an announcement. Not that it is wrong but I was not ready for it back then.

What about you all. How did you come out to your boss or to others at work?

Advertisements

Ellen Page comes out as Gay. Yay!

“All of you, all of us can do so much together than any one person can do alone.”

I came across this video while going through my Facebook wall and have been waiting to get home to be able to share it on my blog. Ellen Page just nails it. A beautiful and an inspiring speech.

Why I am still single.

Picture from www-afterthoughts.blogspot.ca

Picture from www-afterthoughts.blogspot.ca

I am 26. Well, almost 27. People say I am witty, funny, I have a successful career, make decent money, one of my dates said that I have an exotic appeal and a hot accent. I have great pictures on my online dating profile not to mention a very well written ‘about me’ section that gets me a lot of responses. Despite all this I have NOT had a relationship in nearly 5 years. Given, that I live in rural Canada it is relatively difficult to date unless someone serious enough comes along who is open to long distance dating. Having said that there are gay men and women in my part of the world that have partners so blaming it on my location seems more of an excuse. After putting in some thought, I came up with several possible reasons for my solitude for almost a lustrum.

1) Everyone wants to date the best guy or girl. But the problem is that best is a relative term. l find someone online or meet someone in person who makes my heart skip a beat and I tell myself that he is the one. The next week someone more interesting comes along who  is better than the guy I met the week before and there I am, ditching the guy from week one, pursuing the guy from week two, looking forward to someone even better to come along in week three. I know it is wrong, very wrong but every time a guy pursues me, it tells me that I can do even better.

2) I am too stuck up on what my man should do for a living. While I regularly fantasize about blue-collar hunks working in construction, oil rigs etc. When it comes to dating I filter online profiles by their level of education and the profession they are in. Anything below a Bachelor’s Degree does not even show up in my searches. I was raised in a family and in a culture that associates enormous prestige with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine) professions. I find myself to be very hypocritical here. While I chose to pursue a very different career (a career that I find very rewarding and satisfying ) subconsciously I do attach a certain amount of prestige with certain professions and this means that I have ruled out more than half of the single gay men.

3) I have very high standards (unrealistic, possibly) in general. I have this mental image of what my guy should look like, how he should dress up, how he should talk, walk, smile, breathe, his family background yada yada yada… and since my ex boyfriend fit every single criteria to a tee I am having difficulties settling for anyone who does not fulfill my standards.

4) While I have this never-ending list of expectations for my possible dates, I have not spent much time taking care of myself to be able to meet their expectations. I have to admit, I am not in the best physical shape at this point in my life and I am not doing anything to remedy it either but I keep expecting  my dates to be Mr. Grey who is definitely out of my league.

5) I had read somewhere that if you do not find your partner in school chances are you will find them at work and since I am not out to most people at work I don’t think I will have any luck there.

6) and Surprise! Surprise! I am still in the Closet. well, for the most part. I do meet guys but I make it a top-secret affair. I do not want to be seen with them at a place where people from work hangout or basically anybody who knows me hangs out. Working in the hospitality industry, I am very conscious of where I meet guys. A lot of nice restaurants are out of question even though people hardly know me there. I am sure all this will change once I am out to my parents. Which is the reason for writing this blog.

I titled the blog in the form of a question when I started (“why am I still single?”) while I was typing I took a few minutes to ponder over the possible reasons and changed the post’s heading to its current title “Why I am still single.”

I hope to find time to introspect more on all the possible reasons that I have come up with and hopefully  remedy them.

Until then, Cheers to being single.

The plight of gay men in India

When protectors become perpetrators

While watching NDTV online today I came across this video about the ordeal of a young man in India at the hands of law enforcement. What do you do when the very people, that pledge to protect you become the perpetrators? The cops identified the young man as a participant at a pride parade and raped him. The man does not want to file a police complaint out of the fear of further mistreatment and misery. The mainstream Indian media also does little to help the cause as the conservative Indian society prefers not to watch anything to do with homosexuality not even a brutal assault on a young gay man.

One instance like this is enough to send thousands of young gay men running into the closet pledging never to come out. I feel disgusted by the cops. It is not just women that are unsafe in India as it turns out men aren’t either.

The “straight acting” Gay guy

images

I have spoken about being bullied for having gay mannerisms in one of my previous posts. From playing with dolls, wearing my cousin’s skirts, the limp wrist and a lot of other things on a seemingly endless list. I have been bullied for it all. Both verbally and physically. As an adolescent I was terrified of standing up to my bullies and since the society made me believe that I was at fault for being gay, I was ashamed of speaking to my parents about the bullying. Needless to say, I did not want to suffer through that; all my life but what was a young gay guy to do? I could not have changed my sexual orientation. I could not have turned straight. But, could I have acted straight? Dropped the gay mannerisms? Perhaps. I so badly wanted to get away from the bllying that I was willing to change anything as long as it would make people like me.

In hight school and then in college I started to consciously put effort into acting straight. I would be very particular of not crossing my legs while sitting (even though it was very comfortable ). I’d be conscious of my gait, my gestures, my laughter, the guys I’d hang out with, the T”V shows I’d watch, the clothes I wore etc. In doing so I was probably losing the real me but back then nothing mattered more than being accepted and liked by other people. After doing the straight things for a long time, acting straight (not being straight) became the norn. While A lot of people now find it difficult to believe when I come out to them, the truth remains that I am still a gay guy, a straight acting gay guy.

I have a few of gay friends from different parts of the world. I believe that human beings are a product of the society they are raised in. Coming from a culture that denounces homosexuality and has recently re-criminalized it, I conditioned myself to act straight because I scared for my life. So have a lot of my friends who were brought up in the Middle East an South Asia. I probably would have been a different person had I been raised in a country that is more accepting of homosexuality. I feel that every gay guy has a stong feminine side to him but depending on the social setting that you are raised in you either act straight or not.

Regardless of how I act, straight or not. The fact remains that I am a gay guy and I would not change that for anything because I am a happy being the way I am.

PS: I do have my obviously gay moments from time to time.

Video

Being Gay in Russia

I came across this extremely disturbing video on UPWORTHY yesterday. The video stands testament to what happens when the law legitimizes homophobia. Back in my home country I had only heard stories about straight men and at times, even cops creating fake profiles on gay dating websites to lure gay men into meeting them then beating them up or extorting money from them. Watching this video of Gay men being treated the way they are sent shivers down my spine. While I am thankful for living in Canada for now I feel outraged by the treatment meted out to the gay men and women just for being who they are in several countries around the world.

It is inspiring to see that despite all the odds against these men they continue to courageously stand up for their rights, they continue to fight the cowards for what is right. Even though they do not have a lot of open support in their country, the comments made on this video rekindle my faith in humanity. There are more good people in the world than bad. There are people who care and love others for who they are and we need to remember that no matter how many people hate us there will always be people who will love us unconditionally.

Stories from the past

A few days before my 7th birthday my best friend’s dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday present. Without much thought, I said a Barbie doll and watched him laugh. Back then I did not understand why he had laughed. After my birthday party that year I unwrapped his present first and out came a cricket bat and a ball. I could never wrap my head around the fact that he did not buy me a doll when I had specifically told him what I wanted. I even complained to my mom.

I recollect that at lunch one weekend when I was about 8 or 9 my parents were watching a talk show on television discussing LGBT kids. A father on the show much like mine, was ranting about how his son was playing with dolls and would never go out to play with other boys and how he was scared that his son would grow up to be a eunuch or a hijra as they are called in India. During the show my dad said “that is why we ask you to play outside.” It has been over 15 years since he said that but his words have stuck with me.

Indian mothers including mine have this thing for dressing up their boys in a skirt or a tunic and take pictures at least once. The only difference was that she did not have to work hard to convince me and that I enjoyed it more than the other boys did. Growing up, I’d spend most weekends at my uncle’s house  and when he and my aunt were not at home I’d be prancing around the house in my cousins’ skirts and play with all their girlie toys. I knew that I was not supposed to be wearing skirts and so did my cousins but I’d still do and they’d still let me. However as soon as we would hear my uncle’s bike pull over I’d rush to my cousin’s bedroom to change into my pant and shirt. I knew what I was doing was not right but back then I could not tell why.

School was no different. The P.E class was my least favourite. The only options I’d have were to play Cricket or Football as the Basketball and the Badminton courts were “reserved” for girls. I’d usually fake a stomach ache or something else just to get out of it but that was not always an option. In 7th grade while playing cricket, I dropped a catch and heard my P.E teacher scream “You idiot, go play Basketball with the girls” (I am not sure why basketball was a deemed to be a girl’s sport given the average height of Indian women is just 5 feet.) I pretended as if I did not hear him as I watched all the other boys laugh. His words echo in my ears to this day.

On the way back home from school there was this particular high school boy who would call me a girl and would tell me that I should get a sex change done because I was not a boy. The worst bullying that I have ever gone thorough was at the hands of that one person. I’d always try to sit next to the bus driver or as close to him as possible and as soon as the bus stopped where I was supposed to get off, I’d be the first person to leave the bus and walk really fast. At times, I’d even run for a few minutes until I was sure that I had left everyone else far behind not to be able to catch up. I remember reaching home, locking myself up in my room and crying, asking God what I had done to deserve this. Why was he making me go through all this. Crying always made me feel better.

Sexuality let alone homosexuality was hardly ever talked about in most Indian homes and the mainstream media was also very conservative in the 90s. I probably was in 8th or 9th grade when I had figured out that I was physically attracted to boys and not girls. While reading the newspaper one day I read an article about two men who were murdered because they were believed to be in a homosexual relationship. Their bodies were found naked lying in a pool of blood in their bedroom. The story got a lot of attention from media and was covered by the news as well as the print media extensively. People were talking about how the two men deserved to die. That really scared me.

I was particularly close to my Grandmother since she lived with us. She enjoyed cooking and cooking with her became my favourite activity. After returning from school (on days that I was not locked up in my room, crying.) I’d change out of my school uniform, freshen up and rush to the kitchen to help out my Grandmother. I’d give her instructions on how I wanted her to cut the vegetables, what spices I wanted her to use and how I wanted the food to be plated. I am sure she enjoyed it just as much as I did. After lunch we’d spend hours playing with my dolls and I’d read out my comic books to her. I always felt very safe in her company. She’d never judge me, never ask me to go play outside  or stop plying with dolls. She’d let me do whatever made me happy. I’m sure we all have at least one person in our lives like that. The one that gives us the courage to continue doing what we like.

These are just some of the experiences that I could readily think of. I am sure if I spend some time thinking, I can come up with lots more. My intention for writing this is not to portray myself as a victim although that is how I felt back then. I have lived through it all and have come out much stronger. My reason for sharing this is to let kids that are currently struggling with their sexual identity know that they are NOT alone and that they are much stronger than they believe they are.

I hope to read your thoughts and stories. Cheers!

“Coming out is a journey, not an event.”

For over a decade I have been bothering myself with this little (read huge) secret that I’ve had to keep locked down deep within the confines of my heart.

I have been attracted to men for as long as I can remember. My first guy crush was a classmate in 6th grade. Having been through curiosity, confusion, internalized homophobia, denial, bullying, self loathing, fear for my life to very slowly coming to terms with my sexuality and accepting myself for who I am. All, in a span Fifteen years. I now feel this to be the right time to come out to my parents.

I have looked up and read a lot of articles online which have been a great resource but what will make me feel more at ease is a conversation with someone or many, before I finally muster up the courage to break my parents’ hearts.

I am hoping this blog to be that space where I can pour my heart out and can get some advice and also learn about yours or your friend’s coming-out story.

Thanks for reading.