Saturday, June 11, 2016

Don't blame it all on the Pink!

To what extent does our sexuality determine our life?
Would life be totally wonderful had I been straight?
Am I what I am totally because I am gay? I wonder! And disagree..
I have come to believe that how much my sexuality matters depends totally upon me. I could beat my chest over it and make it the center point of my life. Or, it could just be one of the various traits of my personality. Whenever I have let this trait take precedence over every other trait of mine, I think I have found myself depressed. I am not saying I should completely repress this part of me. But I should also not attribute every misery of my life to my being gay.
I am so much more than just a gay man. I am a son, a husband, a father, a brother, an employee, a boss, a neighbor and so much more. So it would be unfair if I focus all my energies on my sexuality. And with time I have found it a tad easier to look beyond my own sexuality. I am trying to not let just my sexuality define me. I am gay. But I am also much more.
For instance, my marriage suffers from issues which are mostly universal in nature. There is the legendary kitchen politics (yeah, the stuff that maketh the Indian TV soaps!) that no husband in the world has been able to escape. Straight or gay, you are in an equally pathetic position when caught between the women of the house! Alleged waning of romance in marriage, lack of time for each other, fight over kids or outings, or even squabbles over the daily household chores.. All a part of malady of marriage! I can safely comfort my soul in believing that these issues would have plagued my marriage even if I had been a straight guy.
A lot of how we live our lives depends so much on who we are as people, and the kind of experiences life has given us. I could still be a great husband if I am a good human (even though a 'great' husband is a myth!). It may sound too cheesy and clich├ęd, but it is also a basic truth. Just try being a fine and fair human being,  the days will be a lot sunnier and the nights cosier. Some inner conflicts will remain, but then all of us have some inner demons. I should not be the prisoner of my own presumed victimization. There is so much to look forward to in life, so much to improve, so much to learn, so much to say, and so much to see. I would be an idiot if I miss all that just because I could not look beyond my homosexuality. I am fine suppressing it as long as I develop the other parts of me. And frankly, yours truly boasts of quite a flawed closet, so there is plenty of repair work needed! Hence, time to head back to the workshop!

The Cradle in the Closet..

One reason I would never regret getting married is my daughter. I did not know how to love someone so unconditionally and selflessly till my daughter was born. I am surprised at my own ability to love her. She has become the center point of my existence and the reason I want to carry on. They say a man never learns to love till he becomes a father. So true.
I think its especially true of daughters. I don't know if its more special for me because I am gay. Most straight men I know are great fathers to their daughters. But I think its a lot more special and different for me. And sometimes funny too. When going out, I am the one rummaging my daughter's almirah to chose the right dress for her! I get so agitated if her footwear don't match her frock, or if her dress is too loose, or if that damn stain is still on that shirt of hers! And I have so much fun dressing her up. And I never trust my wife in that department!
While playing with her, I easily come up with make-believe stories about her toys. I am too old to play with dolls, but I make sure she feeds and dresses and puts to sleep all her dolls! But I do get a bit uncomfortable when she hands me that ball to bowl her while she bats! What if my daughter turns out to be a cricket freak? God help me then!!
I love bathing her, cleaning her nappies, making her bed, putting her to sleep, dancing with her, chatting nonsense with her.. And I can proudly boast that I do a pretty good job! Is it because I am gay? I doubt. May be. May be not. But I thank heavens that they gave me a daughter. I have my own connection with her. May be when she grows up, she won't need me for all the stuff, may be she will be too embarrassed to play these games with her father. May be the mother will become the go-to person for her. I don't know. All I know is that she will always be the reason for my smiles and laughter (sometimes tears and frustration too!). And she will always be the reason I will thank my wife for loving me. And she is the reason why I am, and will always be. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Peepholes in the Closet!

If being married and gay at the same time seems like one hell of a combo, then add to it the herculean task of remaining faithful to your spouse, and you get what seems like an impossible reality. Many unknown voices have asked me how easy or difficult is it and how does the gay side of me find an outlet. I would say it does get a bit difficult at times. Especially when sex outside marriage is becoming so rampant in case of gay men, that it almost seems justifiable. However, you have to set your priorities in life to be able to tread the tough path. When the sanctity of my marriage is the most important to me, then every decision I make will be bound by that priority.
And I try not to falter.
But I do find my own little outlets!
While watching television or movies, I allow myself to ogle at men. Shamelessly. And I dont judge myself for that. While I pretend to be looking at the hot actress in the scene, all my mind is focussed on the stud standing next to her. I make a comment about the dear lady onscreen, get a nudge from my wife and carry on my fantasy trip!
There is always internet which is replete with material that feeds every type of mind in the world. So I stay updated with the happenings of the 'other' world. So what if I don't belong there, I can atleast know how is it for the people living on the other side of the fence.
And why only on the tube. I enjoy watching good looking men in real life too. This mind has got to eat, you see! I don't judge myself for a peek here and there. Its just healthy bird-watching. I am just watching, not hunting. Thats not a sin. Not in my book at least!
Then I do have this tendency to try and spot people who could have a hidden closet, just like me. I have always believed I am really good at spotting those closets, but actually I suck. Not a single success till date, not even one!! I don't know what would I do if I do spot someone like me in the crowd. I am too much of a wuss to go and strike a conversation with that person. But just to see someone apparently going through the exact same thing as I am, would be soul-soothing. Just like when you did not do your homework in school and you would go about asking everyone in the class whether anybody else was there who would give you a company in the punishment!
I think I have a small virtual world in my head where I indulge every gay thought that I have. That world keeps me sane and gay. It keeps me happy, virtually atleast!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

But The Closet was Pink, all those years!

There is a certain conditioning program that a gay boy has to undergo before he turns into a straight appearing man. The mould of a 'true man' is lined with machismo, physical strength and toughness. As a child grows up, the society teaches him how to behave in a certain way and moulds him to be that 'true man'. As a gay boy in my teens, at various stages, I too learnt and unlearnt many a thing to try to fit into that mould. And god, that mould was claustrophobic and painful. There are so many things I remember doing, which screamed "that is not how men do it".
I remember playing with dolls with the neighborhood girl. (Eww! I know! But she had a very pretty barbie doll and a gigantic doll house. Yup, a doll house! So not my fault!) I was so much more interested in feeding that stupid barbie and putting her to sleep than playing cricket with the guys. I even tried setting up a small doll house in my almirah for my own local doll. But the poor toy died a natural death. She needed tender love and care but didn't get any! I moved on to playing cricket with the boys. And I sucked at it!
Oh the sports! I remember I was so so bad at sports! Most of them. My sports teacher hated me. He was quite a hunk himself, but I didn't like him either! I was always at the back of the queue, trying to hide and praying my turn would never come up. The only time he praised me was when he taught students volley ball. "You are not that bad at this", he had told me. But again the volley bounced off my life pretty soon. I was not interested enough. I learnt taekwondo too. I should be strong and be able to kick ass, my mom would tell me! The only ass I could really kick at a taekwondo bout was of an overweight kid with breathing issues.
I remember going to my grandma's home for vacations. Once, she was trying to teach my sister embroidery on that round hoop! While my sister frowned at it and ran away, I sneaked up on my grandma and asked her to teach me instead. And the old lady silently complied. For her, at least somebody was listening to her, and was willing to learn her beautiful art. I picked it up rather quickly and for the next one week that I was there, all I did was embroidery.  And I became pretty good at it. I even did some for that local doll gathering dust in that almirah. But there is only so much embroidery you can do on the same piece of fabric. The fabric ran out, the embroidery frame snapped, and so did the connection.
I remember my art teacher pleading with me not to give up arts as a subject in school. He would tell me, "I will teach you. And later you can take it up as a full-time career option. Do what you love, and not what people ask you to." I wanted to believe him. (Partly because he was really cute, but mainly because I knew I could get better at it, under his guidance). But I did not. Painting and arts were "girls' territories". I would be mocked there. None of my friends were taking them up. So neither should I. I even tried up sculpture and clay modelling for a while, but again it was a no-boys zone. My dramatics teacher kept dragging me to one play after the other, delighting me with some great roles on stage, but then a gay teen's life can handle only so much drama! So I backed out. Again.
I remember when the school brought in a new fancy teacher for a new course called culinary skills. A little heart inside me jumped like a crazy cat. I so wanted to do that. And surprisingly enough, many boys signed up. Their reason was they had to do literally nothing there. Girls did everything and the pretty Miss gave everybody an A. But I was so diligent in those classes. I got an A+!! The Miss was my idol. I would be with her throughout the class, making those simple amateurish dishes with the girls, and taking a small portion back to my home. For my mum. She loved those soggy cold dishes. She would kiss me lovingly and ask me why is the school teaching these silly things to the boys! The teacher didn't last long either. May be the mothers of all the boys got her fired! I would not know. As of today, I can't cook anything in the kitchen, except an occasional bread toast!
I remember watching television serials, but having no one but my sister to discuss them with. While I was crying my heart out for the dying Renuka Shahane in 'Hum Apke Hain Koun', my friends were copying the moves of The Rock and Hulk Hogan. I thought they were crazy. How can the Rock be more important than a dying Renuka Shahane? After all, she was so nice to everybody in the family, while those WWF guys were so mean to each other!
I remember trying to copy friends while ogling at girls. You just had to not blink for 20 secs, fake a naughty smile when that pretty girl was passing by, and wink at the boy sitting next to you (Mmm! hot babe!). It was so easy. But in your head, all you cared about was why the stupid girl had not tied her hair in a nice ponytail. (Frizzy hair left open don't suit every face!) But leering at girls is an important exercise for teenage boys. They must do it, or else there is something 'wrong' with them. I did it too. And I was a certified pro at it in my college (That's cringe-worthy, I know!)
I remember all that and so much. I don't know what kind of a man I would have ended up being, had I not suppressed all those inherent instincts. May be better, may be worse. May be I would have been a happy, cheerful soul. Or, may be I would have been the laughing stock of the town. And therefore I ran away from those instincts, conditioned myself to others' definitions and ended up being what I am today. I look straight today. I behave straight today. I could be sitting next to you, with shoulders broadened out, wrist joints deactivated, legs in a man-spread position and speaking in a low-pitch deepened voice (all a result of years of practice with dollops of self-abomination!). I could be talking to you and you might not even realize that I am the same person writing this maudlin blog. I am a seasoned actor now!
However, years of self-conditioning aside, deep down I still am all those things. I am still that sports-hating, movie-loving, fashion-inclined sentimental fool who sneaks into cookery shows as soon as the wife leaves the room! And the outside-me is none of it for the people around. Because that's convenient. Life is easy that way! Or so it seems..
Today, I secretly indulge in all those passions. In my head! I may not discuss those with anybody, but what the hell! At least I have 'me' to talk to about these things. And that's not too bad. I am all ears for my own pink stories! Hilarious. Embarrassing. But true pink stories of all those years!! 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Splash of pink!

They say, every damn thing that happens in your screwed-up life happens for a reason. I was mad at The Guy in The Skies for getting me married. What good will come of it, I would ask him.
Then he answered. He gave me a reason for everything, a reason to live, a reason to smile, and a reason to carry on. My daughter!
When the world is done getting you married, they are not done for good. They want more of you. They want kids out of you! Thankfully both me and my wife wanted to become parents. I wanted a child ever since I was myself a kid. I was always a father in my head. I would look at other people's kids and would imagine about my own progeny! So our pregnancy was not a result of a failed protection method, but a much desired wish-come-true.
Everyone around was secretly hoping for a boy, because, obviously. But I did not know. I was scared how they would react if it is a girl. And then she was born. She was born and I became alive. The moment I saw her I knew she was all I had wanted. I told my wife, our world is complete. And boy(!!) we were so happy. She was the splash of pink I was yearning for..
But also, I am ashamed to admit that it relieved me off a long held fear. That what if I am not able to beget a child. What would people say? It reiterated my masculinity in my own eyes. And its disgusting that you need to produce a child to prove your manhood. But I had grown up with all kinds of fears and insecurities. And I needed to get over them. Looking back, I am sad that I had such low self-esteem.
A child does not make you "man enough" in your own eyes. I still have so many insecurities about my masculinity. They have been ingrained in my grey matter since my childhood. I still struggle to prove my masculinity to an invisible somebody. Everyday. And its pathetic. It screws up with my confidence as a human being. I could question the society's archaic definitions of a " man", but I won't. I have to learn to not care. Oh how much I need to learn to not give a shit what others think of me! I am what I am. I don't need to be all blue just for them. I will be a bit pink too, for my daughter!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Other closets come knocking!

I am truly shocked and reassured at the same time. So many of you have reached out to me. It has been sort of therapeutic to know some your own stories. I am not alone, is all I could think. Some of you are leading better lives than me and some are fighting their own battles, which are way worse than mine.
Many of you were concerned about me. I am touched. But I am doing good. Mostly! Like all you brave souls out there. Its not easy faking a life every single day, but then I guess, we were born actors. Hence we manage!
I shall add more posts here. And I will try to keep the sunny side up, because thats all the choice I have. As I said, its important to add a pinch of humor to your problems, that ways they are easier to gulp down the palate!
Much love and hugs to all you guys.. Thanks so much for all the knocking on my closet!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Who's reading this??

Wow!! Apparently the blog has been viewed by over a 100 people!! Though, I would have loved you all to give your feedback or comments here, so that we could all connect, but still thanks to each one of you. We are all somehow connected! Stay blessed! (..And please do drop in some wise words.. Words are the best healers.. Atleast on a blog!!)