Before Section 377 was abolished, Indian parents had a staple and pre-planned response towards any conversation that revolved around homosexuality in India. "I don't want to talk about illegal things", "Please don't bring all these western concepts home. This happens only in movies." and my favourite one "This is all nonsense. It's not even a real thing".
However with the Supreme Court ruling, it has not only made the people from the LGBTQ community free and get their due, but it has also left Indian parents stumped, as they now have to find a socially acceptable position on how they feel about homosexuality.
While homosexuality has been decriminalized, coming out to your family, especially your over-enthusiastic, over caring, burdened by societal pressure and sanskaari parents, is still a herculean task. It has led to a lot of awkward conversations, unnecessary over the top reactions, and a whole lot of stories of love and acceptance.
The entire roller coaster of emotions that a parent goes through when their child comes out can be explained better by none other than Sushma Samudra from Pune after her son came out as gay. While initially, she consulted astrologers, quizzed psychiatrists, performed prayers, and even tasked her husband to feed a stray dog each morning with a roti generously coated with ghee upon an astrologer's advice, over time she came to be more accepting of her son's sexuality. "It took me 10 years to understand. I had never heard the word ‘gay' before. Now when people ask me, I tell them to accept their child. They need that the most. This is where I made a mistake." the 66-year-old Samudra says.
However, not all stories have such a happy end. This year, Dutee Chand, India's fastest woman and silver medallist at the Asian Games, faced her family's wrath who threatened to expel her from the family after she publicly admitted that she is in a same-sex relationship.
The fact of the matter is that your child coming out as gay is a big thing for both, the parent and the child. Just as it takes one time to figure out and come to terms with their own sexuality, parents too need time to accept it and take it in their stride. They need time to understand it, comprehend it and fully accept the reality. There are countless stories where parents, over time have come to accept their kid's sexuality. Indu Jasuja from Delhi says "I would like him to find somebody to settle down with", which is a giant leap from when she first got to know her son is gay when she cautioned him against telling anyone else.
A recent conversation with my English professor was an indicator of how far parents have come in their journey of accepting their child's homosexuality with open arms. From "I hope my child isn't gay, what will I do then?" she's come to "It is okay if they are gay. There's nothing we can do. They're my children I love them as they are, however they are."
So what can parents and kids do to bridge the gap and make the process of coming out easier – for both the kids and their parents? For starters, it helps to be more accepting. Accepting that your kid is gay and that in itself is a natural thing and in no way is a barometer to measure the quality of your parenting is a good place to start. For the kids, taking out time to patiently explain what homosexuality, in all its forms actually means can go a long way towards them accepting it because frankly they've been brought up in a time when it was taboo to talk about anything. Absolutely anything.
Coming out to your parents can seem like a life-altering decision. You may spend days, or even years contemplating over it and trying to find the right time to do it. However, the whole thing can be made easy by remembering just one single thing. They may be not accepting at first but, at the end of the day there's no parent that doesn't love their child and they'll surely come around!