A Telling of Tranquil Times by Sandeep Solanki : (Not So) Straight Outta Roorkee
Starting the journey of my life with an amazing childhood, one I spent with a lovely family, good friends and with absolutely no clue to the mental rollercoaster a few years ahead. It led to adolescence where my sanskari mind lost the bet that the reason why i was not envisaging myself with the prettiest girl classmate like each one of my friends was because I was just too sanskari for it. Though, I was sanskari enough to not do it with any of my friends also. Only my elder brother’s friends, almost subconsciously. It took a few more years to acknowledge the feelings of mild crushes and then a few more to give them a name. With my parents being very conservative, it was hard to imagine a future with them. Took many hopeless days and remorseful nights to finally accept the fact that I am gay and that’s the way it gotta be. Then I came to IIT Roorkee. It was not hard for me to socialize with the other students. The friends i ended up with were cool. So everything was fine, but there was always that lack of openness and that yearning to bring up the topic and talk it out. I was able to find nice people in and out of the community. I had my first coming out to a str8 friend, that I was most involved with, in 2nd year right before a Thomso, so that I can check out boys instead of having to pretend to check out girls with him. He was very cool with it and we became better friends. Then by the end of my education there I came out to my whole circle and they all were quite accepting. Even the ones I didn’t think so of. Some probably pretended to be okay at first, but I hope eventually they understood it. Most of the students around me again came from conservative families and still held on to outdated concepts for sexuality and gender. Some dinner table talks were depressing to sit by. Some I challenged while most I had to sit by. For an LGBTQ individual, the change comes form within, inevitably. But for a non-queer person it has to come from outside. A conversation, an incident, a confrontation that challenges the outdated concepts in their mind that were never challenged. And most students in an IIT college, being intellectuals and thinkers (in most cases) are on the edge of that change. A positive and constant representation, an ever present dialogue can push them off into being allies. IIT Roorkee is better than most colleges in this regard but it always can be better. The campus and the town, both are very romantic. I experienced some of that romance too that washed off on those stairs of that canal. It was also during the years in campus when I embraced and explored my feelings and sexuality. Watching and reading stuff based on it, meeting many queer folks where we walked though the campus in night talking life and sharing stories and experiences. So I spent many hours wandering down the loneliest roads in campus with people that needed someone to exchange their story with. We all homos have these little buckets of stories that we recite hundreds of times. Some will have an exciting childhood experience with classmates and roommates while some will shy away from some traumatic abusive encounter. One might have a crispy realization story that ended with “and that night i knew for sure, I was gay”. While other will unavoidably strike up a cheating boyfriend story that ended with “and I was not able to love again.”
These stories, however repetitive, bind us together. And reinforces the fact that its not just the campus but our community too that needs to be more positive and encouraging. And nothing is more important than self-love and self-approval. I now am a stronger person, planning my coming out to my family properly. The agitation is still there but mixed with certain excitement. And in worst case scenario, always pack an emergency bag before coming out and ensure your financial independence. But never give up on your parents. If it took you a few years to accept your innate feelings, then you gotta let them have their time to see these feelings from the perception of a person whose very ability to perceive was given by them. As a last note, try to make the best out of your queer years in college, it will never be this simpler. But a willful heart and a zealful brain can always find comfort and pride in most adverse circumstances that life throws at you. Thanks Qagaar for doing this and giving me this opportunity. Wish you all the best.