just a little more courageous!

Ankit Rastogi


It was 2012 when I had my first brush with the reality that someone can be “Gay”.

It was an ordinary weekend and my dear friend Ram finally agreed to meet over lunch. He can be quite difficult to get hold off over phone or otherwise so this meeting was a rare gift. During the course of conversation Ram told me about his sexual orientation.

And here was my reaction, on the inside –
1) Seriously!!!
2) But I kind of knew
3) Is he going to be fine? I hope he doesn’t get a lot of shit from people for this
4) Heck…what does this mean?

On the outside –
1) That is so courageous of you!
2) Good for you!

When I came back home that day and thought over it more, I was really awed by the amount of courage he had really shown in accepting himself and in coming out. So I dedicated the following post to him – http://ankit-rastogi.blogspot.in/2011/10/charge-of-light-brigade.html

All awesome up to the point, right? Well now starts the real story.

A couple of weeks later, I met Ram again for coffee. I do not know what we talked about but I know what I kept thinking – “what will other people think of me when they see us?”

You see, I wasn’t all that courageous.

Now I had up to this point always considered myself a very open minded person. But this meeting and what went through my mind challenged me to the very core. It disturbed me to the point that I thought about not meeting someone I had called a very dear friend and avoid him. It really wouldn’t have been that difficult given that you really need to make an appointment to meet him. You see my shallow thinking was at the verge of costing me my dear friend.

So I did what anyone would normally do in this situation. I decided I needed to know more about this new thing I’ve been introduced to. I remembered Ram mentioning some dating site, so i went ahead and joined it. And for two days I was bombarded with messages from other gay men. So, I did the next best thing and quit. This experience had me realize two things –
1) It didn’t matter
2) Our friendship was more important to me than my shallow thoughts and insecurities and hence I needed to get over them

Its 2018 and man I am glad I have Ram at my side. He has stood by me in every up and down in my life and I sure hope we continue to do so.

It really doesn’t matter, does it? Who you decide to love? It’s really difficult to find someone who you love and who can love you back, should we really begrudge someone that basic human right?

And really what does change about someone when they come out? Really nothing. What really does change is your assumption about them. They really just remain the same person they were before – just a little more courageous!

I’ll end it again with this blogpost, this time dedicated to all the people out there who have shown the courage to accept

The original poem The Charge of the Light Brigade


I am an out-and -proud Mum!

Kalpana Rao


The first time I had a dialogue with a gay man was possibly in the mid-90’s.  He was quite a celebrity, having written books and been featured frequently on TV. On several occasions, he had more than mildly hinted at his orientation. During our conversation, I, quite naively, asked him why he primarily identified as homosexual, why not his nationality, his gender or even his career. His reply has stayed with me, decades later.

“I want to be known for what I am not allowed to be.”

Being Indian, being male or female, being a bureaucrat or a writer – society really doesn’t care. Try belonging to a minority, just try it for a day, he recommended. Not just any minority, but one that is actively disdained. Put yourself in the shoes of a trans-gender, for example– who is met with hate simply for existing.  Where in the main stream do you find them? Do you see them in schools and colleges, getting equal opportunities for education? Do you see them in health care units, being treated for coughs and colds, like anybody else? Are they employed in offices or any jobs, for that matter, where they are treated with dignity? When they are so negatively targeted, there will be push back and they will flaunt what you taunt – that is why their identity will be trans gender first and all else second.

When your family rejects you – for reasons as mundane as “what will people say” or as illogical as “you are going through a phase and want attention” or as isolating as “God will not forgive you and you are going to Hell” – the comfort of staying in the closet is as appealing as it is stultifying.

I am not an unusually sensitive person, nor am I intuitively kind. Practical as the day is long, I have cynically viewed the human condition without syrupy sentiment – deal with it, these are the cards you were handed.

Till I met a fabulous young person.

Intelligent. Wise beyond his years. Hard working. Inspiring. And lonely.

Sociable with a wide circle of friends, he stays firmly in the closet even though his friends love him so dearly. He contemplates a future with no partner, no children and depresses himself further. Isolated by a self- imposed silence, his coming out to me was, I think, more because I confronted him with what I could perceive. Over the decade of our friendship, I have watched him grow increasingly self-sufficient, not because he doesn’t need help, but fears becoming dependent on it.  He has introduced me to scores more of similarly closeted individuals – so many young people who should have been able to be cherished by their families, friends, and colleagues but who are bound by their fearful code of silence, to speak only in “safe” places.

I am so grateful for being at the receiving end of so much love and trust. My young friend has, over these years of friendship allowed me the joy of “motherhood”! I have no children of my own, but as I become a confidante and host to these many young souls who can come out to me with no fear and know that they will never be judged, I am now their adopted Mum!

Being there for them, when they need advice, or when they need to rant; to eat a home-cooked meal or to hold a hand, I am privileged to be the one they turn to.

I am not just an ally. I am an out-and -proud Mum!