A day before the lockdown started, I met Isaac after a long time. We met in a café to talk. He had to tell me about a lot of things I had missed on when I had been away. Isaac began with narrating to me the details of his meet with his school counselor –
He had visited his school four years after his passing out and was keen to meet her and tell her about his latest self-discovery. After meeting, he had to introduce himself to her as she wasn’t able to recognize this youth who used to once be a chubby little boy. They ended up talking about all the years which had passed and finally, he revealed to her what he had actually came to her for – “I found out two years ago that I am a bisexual.” he said.
He told me that her reaction seemed unnatural to him back then. She just kept staring at him without blinking an eye as if she was waiting to hear something more, like she always did. He waited for a response and finally managed to ask “What?” in a way that it felt awkward.
And this took me to that day when Isaac had told me how this teacher had asked him what was it that made him expect for a very obvious response (probably full of shock or pity) which she didn’t end up giving.
That moment, that had made me think. Furthermore, he had explained me how his teacher told him that it is as normal as being straight. It is the society that made him anticipate a reaction full of stupor or sympathy. I too had had a realization after listening to this incident – the response which was looked forward to from the counselor has been ‘normalized’ by had been the one which was given by the counseling teacher. That day, I acquired a real-life example of the famous saying that the wrong thing done by the majority of people does, in no way, validate it as the right thing to be done.
Lost in my thoughts, I lost the fact that Isaac was sitting in front of me at the table. The ringing f his phone brought me back to the present –
“Wait a minute, I have to attend this call.” said Isaac, as he got up from his chair and stepped out of the café. Now, that gave me time to reflect more on his journey.
I remembered Isaac telling be about the time when he had had the realization. Throughout his time in school, he had brushed-off the feelings of awe and appreciation which he used to have for his male classmates and seniors as he had also been into a girl earlier. The fact that his attraction towards guys is a thing struck him when he was in the second year of the degree college. He himself confesses today that he didn’t know much about sexualities back then. Not only Isaac, but I as well as many more people blame the improper education system which does not inform students anything about sex and sexuality, making their minds run about in a confused state when it comes to having a realization that they probably do not belong to the group of heterosexuals. I went ahead to think that the world would have been a much better place if we, since our childhood or would have had fairy-tales of males falling in love with male. I thought of why we didn’t end up reading love triangles involving a maybe a female protagonist having an attraction towards a male as well as females while we grew up. Maybe, very few people wrote such stories. Or, was it that this society didn’t let such stories have the fame they deserve, curbing their circulation? What I concluded was that these hard-to-digest facts (which many people refer to it as) would have been much simpler to believe if those would not have been the cases.
Coming to college made a huge difference to Isaac’s life. He met new people and had a friends group full of people who never judged him. Even today he tells me how understanding and ultra-fine his friends have been. The college gave him the opportunity to befriend a transgender female. This gave him a lot more insight than the society could have allowed him to have. He started developing affection for a girl and she confessed that these feelings were mutual. However, the things didn’t end on a good note making Isaac focus on his studies than on having romantic relationships.
I remembered him narrating a beautiful anecdote to me –
One day when Isaac was sitting in the college canteen, he started talking to his friend Ann about a guy who he assumed to mostly be a gay.
“Why doesn’t he come out to people about his sexuality?” he had asked her. And she had given a beautiful reply – “He doesn’t need to, Isaac. Do straight people ever feel the need to come out to people about their sexuality?”
Indeed a beautiful thing to ponder upon.
Going ahead in his story, I thought about that special year – the second year of the degree college. That year, he fell for a boy of his age who is an open and proud gay. Things grew pretty obvious and awkward when Isaac used to be around this boy. It is then that Isaac’s best friend Brent came up to him one day, frankly and fearlessly asking Isaac to open up to him despite his apprehensions. All that while, Isaac had feared about himself confessing about being a bisexual but that day, before this friend, he candidly expressed himself. That day, before his amigo and in his mind, he accepted himself the way he is. After that day, opening up to his close friends was never a problem.
I can clearly remember the joy on his face when he was merrily reciting to me the freedom experienced by him when he happily turned his hand to himself and pulled him up the cliff towards accepting himself the way he is. The mirth experienced by him came out through his words making me feel as if I was listening to a blissful poetry recitation.
The only thought which disturbs him now was about what impact this revelation would have on his parents. Being orthodox Christians, he feared that they would not accept him. He has not yet talked to his parents about it as he has many apprehensions. Both his parents suffer from medical conditions forcing him to keep this reality to himself. He is afraid that they could suffer from medical complications. He did try talking to Priests who tell him to go slow and give it all some time. I recollected of that time when had tried to subtly bring up this topic before his mother, using the Gay Pride Parade as the subject of their discussion –
“Why are you talking so much about the LGBTQI community? Are you one of them?” his mother had questioned.
“What if I am?” Isaac had cross-questioned his mother.
“Get out of my house if you are.” she replied, while laughing.
This discussion gone wrong had demotivated Isaac for a while thinking that his mother was not showing any signs of supportiveness. Later, he came up with an idea – he has decided to keep talking to his mother about his friends from this community so that the reality is normalized for her. He plans to regularize their existence in her mind so much so that she doesn’t face any difficulty to accept her son when he spills the beans.
Isaac did come out to his cousin sister who responded in the way everyone should ideally do. He then decided to talk to his elder sister, who found it a bit difficult to believe it when he first said it to her. She thought it was a prank or maybe he was trying to fool her. But later, she just accepted it. Her acceptance was an important thing for Isaac as somebody who lived in the house he lived in finally knew about his reality.
“It would be difficult when the ones who matter the most to you do not know your biggest reality.” I thought. Just then, Isaac entered. He was done with his call.
“It was Aunt Charlotte.” he said.
“Oh yes, I had forgotten about Aunt Charlotte.” I thought. While Isaac checked some messages on his WhatsApp, I recollected how he had revealed of him being a bi to his aunt –
“What if I am a bi?” he had asked her, in the course of a conversation.
“What if you are? It is as normal as being straight.” She said without a thought. And that’s simply how he came out to her.
Back to the present, I asked him, “Isaac, are you scared of leaving the college and going ahead to get exposed to the outside world?”
“To frankly say, yes I am. I do not know where I would apply for a job. However, I need to take a step towards being independent. It is only then that I could think of revealing my identity to my parents. I cannot keep them in darkness forever. That’s for sure. I have apprehensions as the college is a safe place for me to be open and free. I have friends who accepted me, who let me be. But the outside world is not the same. I have been told that the people out there are very rude and adamant. They don’t be patient with the ones who are not like them. Inclusion is difficult out there.” he said thoughtfully.
He was true. That reminded me of him telling me about falling for his male best friend, Kevin who was straight and even was dating a girl. Ann told Isaac to stop there itself because adoring a straight guy clearly showed that he would end up hurting himself. However, it was too late. The feelings started intensifying and the attraction became stronger. The things had started getting uneasy and awkward as he started hating the girls Kevin spent time with. Isaac was surrounded by insecurities and wanted Kevin to be only with him. Finally, he decided to confess to Kevin. Since then, Kevin has been very patient with him and has always ensured that the things don’t go ahead to ruin the beautiful friendship that they have had. It is true when Isaac says that the companions he got in college were extremely easygoing. Most of people in the world are not the same.
Anyways, I hadn’t called this friend of mine for a coffee to end up having discussions which would make him worry about the times to come. A fun idea cropped up in my mind to change his mood – “Okay, I have a crazy challenge for you. Imagine you giving a Ted Talk. Convey your message to those who have still not accepted themselves the way they are just because of the societal behavior and norms.” I exclaimed out of fun. It was time for behaving in a senseless way which the people sitting in the cafe would find to be hopeless and which would make them think how to react to this. “You have to stand up and speak, as if these people are your audience.” I stood up, took a fork and handed it over to Isaac. Then, I took my phone and started my phone camera’s video recorder. “Stand up and start speaking, Isaac. Inspire people!” I said, in a loud voice, fully in the mood to hear something motivating.
The people around looked at us, giving us strange looks. But I didn’t care what people thought about us. Isaac is proud of himself and so should everyone else be! If we are celebrating ourselves, how could we have cared about the opinions of the ones who we didn’t even know?
“Speak up, Isaac.” I said, as the manager of the café sent a waitress towards us.
“To the ones who are still confused about themselves, to the ones who haven’t accepted themselves…there is absolutely no hurry, my friends!” he said, loud enough for everyone in the café to hear. His confidence drove everyone to stop talking. The waitress stopped walking. “It is completely okay to be unsure; it is absolutely fine to be confused! Take your time. Eventually, there will be a time when you will be sure about yourself. And that realization will be ecstatic. If you feel you need help, don’t ever hesitate to seek it – be it from your parents, siblings, friends, teachers, counselors or whoever you trust. As long as you are comfortable, share it with them. Don’t fear what their reactions would be. People will react the way they feel they should. Maybe you are a homosexual, bisexual, asexual, transgender or just a straight person seeking emotional or psychological help. It makes you different from the majority for some time or forever. But does that mean you cease to exist as a human being? Does that mean you should stop living? It is your life. So, why not live it your way? It is your story. So, why not write it in your way!”
The moment he stopped, the silence of the people in the café ceased to exist as they collectively burst into clapping. The waitress as well as the manager was clapping along with everyone else. This speech was something which came from his heart and it stroke a chord in everyone’s hearts. His speech was universal; everyone needs to hear it. That day, he opened the eyes of at least twenty more people.
What else? The manager offered us two complementary chocolate truffle pastries!