Journey to yourself

Journey to yourself

Seeing a gay friend come out and find his voice is an empowering journey to witness

Manpreet Singh

“This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” – William Shakespeare.

These wise words from Shakespeare tell us that to maintain honest relations with others, we must first be honest to ourselves. Sounds like an easy thing to do, but is it really that simple?

If we dare to delve deeper to find our authentic selves – what will we discover? For most of us this will be a very complex journey, which will take a lot of effort and brutal honesty to find answers.

The tough part

For some this journey is even more arduous because of the way our society has been conditioned. A very dear friend of mine has struggled for over three decades with his self-identity. A seemingly simple concept of self-identity, which is influenced not just by who you are, but also by who you like. Are you normal and acceptable for the society only if you like people from the opposite gender? 

Are you an outcast just because you like someone of the same gender? Being your own true, authentic self is anyway challenging enough without the added baggage of being labelled as queer. When and how was this concept created that you could function only a certain way in society? 

A young boy growing up in the southern part of India, in a society that values education, modernity and morality. An innocent little boy who always knew in his heart that he felt attracted to other boys, but who could never voice his opinions for fear of being judged and of not being accepted by his family and society in general. A boy who lived his life not knowing if it was normal to like other boys. 

He never saw any representation of same sex couples in his reality or in the media, and did not even know how to approach this subject. And as he progressed towards his teenage years, he had to mask his true feelings for fear of being an outcast. 

He hid behind a facade, carrying on with life trying to fit into the conventional outline of being a man. When did the definition of being a man become limited to someone who can only like women? And would you still be a man if you felt any differently? In a society like ours, where it’s still a challenge to be open about your sexuality – how do you create an identity for yourself, which enables you to be accepted for your true self? 

He carried on with life, thinking that one day he will like a woman and marry her and fit the role of the ideal son who will carry on his family’s legacy. 

Feeling understood

It was only when he went abroad for his higher studies  that he saw that being gay was not something out of the ordinary, and you could live a life where you were not judged for your sexuality. 

He saw a different version of life, where it was okay to be a little different, where it was okay to be open about your choices without any fear of judgement. 

When he moved back to India, he had only figured it out internally what his choices were. But it would still be a long journey to move forward and portray his real identity to the world. He continued on, still hoping that he would someday be able to marry a woman so as to not disappoint his family. He lived in the closet for years, without ever telling anyone what it meant to be him. 

He faced a few challenges – struggling with his physical, emotional and mental health. Little did he know that all the fear and guilt that he felt had caused all of this. He hadn’t accepted himself for who he really was, and this was causing him a lot of pain. The pain he felt was sometimes manageable and sometimes insurmountable. 

The fight within

Imagine living everyday of your life, questioning your own identity, your choices. It led him to a point where he developed suicidal tendencies and thought it would be the easier way out. 

All of this pain was caused just because he felt differently than other men. In hindsight, you’d think how absurd it is that someone should go through so much trauma just because of their sexual orientation. But this is the harsh reality of the society we live in, which has become more accepting over the years but is still not fully accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community.

And even though we’d been friends for a few years, he had never admitted to me or to anyone for that matter that he was gay. One day we were discussing his health issues and how his thyroid problem was not getting resolved despite being on medication for years. He was struggling with weight issues, hair loss, fatigue, body image issues and mental health issues.

I practise Energy Healing and was discussing with him the aspect of feeling unheard or of not being able to express his true feelings as the root cause of his thyroid issue. I did a healing session for him and nudged him to be more honest about his self-expression to see a change in his health patterns. 

A few days later, I received a call from this friend; he said with some urgency that he had some very important news to share. He said that since our last conversation he could not stop thinking about how his secret was causing him so much trouble. He had decided to come out of the closet, and to openly express his true self. 

I was not very surprised to hear this news as I had always had an inkling about this. I told him that he could not have been braver about this decision and to finally put an end to living a life shrouded in secrecy.

A fight worth fighting

Of course it wasn’t a cakewalk. He had a difficult time explaining himself to his family. He had to deal with a lot of misunderstanding, and a lot of shame for not being what his family expected him to be. It took a few months for his family to accept his reality, even though they tried to make him rethink his choices. But is this a choice? No it isn’t. You are born homosexual or heterosexual. It isn’t a choice, like many might believe.

After a lot of emotional upheaval and a lot of struggle with his family, he’s finally in a better place. He is now living his life with a more honest outlook. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and knows that he is supported by all his friends and family. He is not struggling with his health issues anymore, he doesn’t have to pretend to be someone else to gain acceptance by others. He is proud to live his truth. He is proud to be gay. He is one of the kindest and most compassionate humans that I have the pleasure of knowing. He is a shining example of what it means to live with courage, to embody love in all its forms. We often think what the big deal about all this is. 

Why do you need to raise awareness about these issues, and why do we need to be more kind and accepting of everyone. We can never know the kind of turmoil one may be going through. We, the so called normal ones, who have taken societal acceptance for granted may sometimes not even realise the kind of pain a person from the LGTBQIA+ community may be going through just to be able to exist as their own true self.

In a world, where gender identities are now being challenged, wouldn’t it just be an easier path for all of us to live and let live. To accept everyone for who they are without any judgement. After all who are we to even judge someone? A person should be free to love whomever they want to, free to be whoever they are. 

The many layers of self-identity should not make living a challenge to get through. It is only when one can honestly express themselves can they live a life full of love and joy. And isn’t it every person’s right to love and be loved; for what is the purpose of this life if not to embody love. To anyone who is struggling with their self-identity and expression, please just take a moment to think about life from a higher perspective. Would you rather be comfortable living a lie, or would you rather be happy living your truth?