Stand-up comedian Navin Noronha Image: Facebook
I came out to my family only over a year ago. I was scared. They had no clue. Although they suspected it because I never had a girlfriend. Tension was already brewing at home because I had stopped going to church. My dad would constantly lose his temper. I felt so dismayed because if they couldn't accept a simple lifestyle change, my orientation would shock them even further. I didn't want to be rebuked for something I was sure of.
It took a good 10 years to get to that level of comfort with my own skin. Finally, I packed my bags one day and left home. I went and stayed with my friend for 15 days and did not talk to my family because I needed time to mull over it. On the 16th day, I went back home and sat my mom down. It took an entire hour to tell her everything. That's when she told me she always had a sliver of doubt but she never wanted to believe it. And then she told me it's fine. It was like an anvil was lifted from my very core. It took a week or two more of desensitising but they came around. My dad still avoids it like the plague. My sister feels it's okay to be gay but the world should not be aware of it, which is just absurd. But they all love and accept me and kudos to them.
About feeling different as a child
I started feeling different from the rest when I was 14. It was not something I had a grasp over but I was sure I liked boys almost immediately after puberty hit me. I was also massively confused about the feeling initially.
I had slight inflections. I used my hand a lot to express myself. I became conscious about it so I had to curb it. Most gay men have to pretend to be straight to fit in. Some have no option. I feel it should not matter. It is we who have divided gestures as feminine or masculine. It's suffocating. As a kid, I loved wearing my mom's jewellery. But as a grown ass dude, I am all about shorts t-shirt and chappals.
I grew up in a very traditional Roman Catholic family. And gay men were unabashedly referred to as Baila. I didn't know how to feel about that. Every once in a while, someone would say stuff like 'Kya ladki jaisa baat kar raha hai or Tu chakka Hai kya'. But these were one-offs and other flamboyant kids always had a harder time.
For 5 years, I didn't act on it. I was depressed all the time. Until I came out to my mom, I lived with this immense sadness that I may never be the son they envisioned. But I had to learn to accept myself first. I educated myself.
I first came out to my best friend when I was 19. And once he seemed cool with it, the rest of the world didn't really matter.
I had the biggest crush on Adnan Sami, he's cute. In school, I had a crush on this guy who used to sit in front of me. Or, maybe he was in front of me because I played my cards right *wink wink*. He never knew though. I was scared of being mocked. A boy falling for another boy was unheard of. But in 10th grade, the testosterone guys would talk about breasts so much, that I wondered why they never admired guys that way.
On going public
When the Supreme Court upheld Section 377 in 2014, I was aghast. For someone struggling to come out, this was quite a blow.
I don't want anyone else ever to go through what I did. Some have it even worse. I host a podcast called Keeping it Queer, where I document stories of queer individuals across the spectrum.
I get trolled. This guy from my college went all berserk on Facebook and called me all kinds of deviant. Even said I am out to convert people for my agenda. And I was left all baffled because I wasn't aware of the agenda he was talking about.
I will be performing at the Kashish Film Festival opening ceremony alongside comedian Nick Pillow.
Besides, I have a few more videos coming soon. Not all of them deal with my sexuality. There are a lot of rants left, and only one life to get them out.
(As told to Sreyashi Mazumdar)