Coming Out: The Story of One Twenty-Something Girl

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By Karishma Talwar

The first proclamation always seemed like it would be the hardest. Uttering those words:  “I’m…gay.”

Wait for response. Hope for minimal response. Breathe.

Except it didn’t happen that way for me, because my relationship status gave me an out. I didn’t have to utter the reality I was so keen on keeping under wraps. “I’m dating (insert girlfriend’s name)“ seemed infinitely easier to announce, as I could let her name do all the talking for me.

I knew at this point I did not have to announce this to my best friends or roommates. They knew me well. They knew. But I also knew it was something that needed to be aired.

The situation seemed cowardly, yet this was the only time I could see myself making this confession to these people who claimed so much importance in my life. What if they reacted badly? I knew they wouldn’t.

And so, in our excessive drunkenness one night, with nothing but love for our lives and each other perforated the winter air, I knew: The moment had come. And as I had expected, I was met exclusively with support, happiness, and a unanimous “we know.” At last, my secret was free. And met with such casual regard that I felt instantaneously lucky to be able to so openly announce this incredible weight, knowing that these words would finally be let loose in that cold night air. 

And there began a long-time coming waterfall of coming out’s, as the grapevine was filled with rumors, assumptions, snippets of information that seemed increasingly more difficult to control. With this lack of control came the biggest concern of all: My family. Firstly, my parents, my brother. And secondly, the extended family. The family badgering my mum and occasionally me about boyfriends, marriage.

An Indian family.

However, the more I thought about this weighty admittance, the solution became no more clear. Of course, they had to know. We had a good relationship, we were solid, we talked about things. But this wasn’t “things.” It was more like a curveball in the game of life, with the potential to throw things off track for the remainder of my existence. Although I had glimmers of hope that my ever-liberal, accepting parents would do nothing less than support, love and sympathize, my fear went beyond them and their liberal ways, and focused more on what this would mean for them. And what about my extended family? That was the overarching fear, after all. They would never have the same positive regard my parents had continuously adopted. They would be less open, less accepting. They would consider me differently, suddenly an entity they couldn’t understand. Would we remain as close? Would my parents even want to tell them? Would I tell them? Would they be embarrassed? Should I be embarrassed? Was I even sure this was what I wanted? Would it be worth it?

With these never-ending questions came doubt, and an ongoing burying of my head in the metaphorical sand of denial. I did not want my parents to bear this fear – the fear of how their own family may respond to them for something they couldn’t control. Something that wasn’t their fault. So I remained silent. This seemed like the only option, for now.

But of course, my mind didn’t. Every day was a battle, an internal argument of how, when, why, what would I tell them. Along with that came the added pressure of my current relationship. How could I lie about that? But the relationship came and went, in a whirlwind of secrets and misunderstandings. And still I was shackled to this increasingly pressuring confession, still waiting to happen.  

The first night I stayed with my new girlfriend, I knew I had to tell someone.

My brother.

I told him I needed to talk to him. We went to my room. I paced. I tidied. I paced some more. He stared at me. He didn’t look away, not once.

I said half-sentences. I said “I can’t,” over and over.

I took a huge breath.

I told myself it wouldn’t get easier, and then: “I have a…girlfriend”. I stared at him.

He stared at me. 

“I know,” he said. “I knew. I was just waiting for you tell me.”

Relief. Shock? Confusion? Mostly relief. 

“I need to tell you something too, I don’t want kids. Don’t tell mum.”

And that was it, family member number one. 

Months came and went, a family trip to New Zealand came and went. Another relationship was still somewhat under wraps. What was I doing? I felt like I was ready to burst. Anxiety, panic, confusion, fear of the unknown – a need to express my happiness.

One January weekend, getting ready to meet a friend before going to my girlfriend’s to stay for two nights, I was  worried, panicked, irritable. Why was I still lying about this? 

“It will never feel like the right time – just tell them,” my girlfriend advised.

Of course she was right. I had to make it happen now.

“Mum, I need to talk to you,” I said before bursting into tears.

Cue her suddenly concerned face. “What? Why are you crying?”

Cue tears forming in her eyes. Cue the face of fear.

“You know when you said that either of us were gay, you think you would be ok with it?” I asked.

“Yes… what? Are you?”

“Yes”.

Tears. Silence. Fear.

“I’m sorry. I mean, is that ok? I’m sorry,” I said. The need for reassurance grew greater with every second, as if my mum’s fear suddenly permeated the room. Then, six words: 

“Yes, it’s ok. I’m still here.”


Karishma is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.

{featured image via unsplash}

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