Homosexuality is not a choice. Homophobia is!

“Being the only son in the family meant I was the most pampered child in the house, but also, meant that I was mostly surrounded by women. My elder sister being my role-model, I always ended up dressing like her which resulted in everyday bullying.

While pursuing my graduation, staying away from the city and my sister, I chose to confide the truth about my sexuality to a companion who reacted badly, calling my urges ‘wrong’. I started questioning myself everyday about my being, the way I am and the way I feel. I started making male friends and avoided girls to stop myself from ‘being girly’. Very often I used to surround myself with guys to feel “normal” or comprehend the “correct sexuality” as pointed out by my friend.

The most disturbing time of my life was when I turned 25.

I had come out to my elder cousin who started showering me with marriage proposals and sent me to a sexologist for treatment. The doctor started with basic counselling and proper medication, then the therapy somehow started healing my inner conflicts. In a few days, while I did feel better about myself, I was appalled when my cousin and the doctor suggested me to sleep with a girl who was very close to me, hoping it would be the ‘final cure’. I couldn’t take this madness anymore and I quit the treatment immediately. In effect, I also came out to my family of twelve people, together. It took me a few weeks to make them understand and accept me the way I am but the joy of feeling free made me ecstatic.

Today, I’m working at an MNC and whenever relatives call with marriage proposals for their daughter, I clearly respond as “Do you have a son? Is he willing to marry?”

Trust me, I feel really good living the life of truth now.

My eyes fill up with tears whenever I come across a strong Ally for the community. I have been walking in Pride Parades since last year and I will keep trying my best to make a change to see a closet-free world for us.

Remember, homosexuality is not a choice. Homophobia is.”

– Niraj Mandanka